Maria Christina Concepcion .
WHEN Friendster was introduced in 2002 by Canadian computer programmer Jonathan Abrams, the world of friendship gained heights. What was thought of earlier as just wishful thinking became a reality. By clicking computer keys, connections to old friends were re-established and new friendships were easily formed. Friendster was the digital version of the slam books of the ’70s and ’80s where a user can share personal information, pictures, and dedications or messages. For the young and old Friendster users, changing the themes or the look of the page added more fun to the already loved social media platform.
Then Facebook came in 2004 and the world of friendship and communication changed again, more tremendously than before. The change is so remarkable that it is even safe to say that Facebook changed the communication landscape of the the world. Here are some statistics about Facebook that will explain why:
- As of June 20, 2017, Facebook has more than two billion monthly active users and over a billion daily active users.
- 83 percent of women and 75 percent of men use Facebook. People aged 18-29 are the most prevalent Facebook users (65+ is the least).
- People spend an average of 35 minutes on Facebook each day and Facebook is accessed by its users at an average of eight times per day.
- Four hundred new users sign up for Facebook every minute.
- Every 60 seconds on Facebook, there are 317,000 status updates, 147,000 photos uploaded, and 54,000 shared links.
Here’s a closer look at Facebook’s Messenger, a free messaging application and platform available to Facebook users and non-Facebook users as well:
- It has over 1.2 billion monthly active users.
- It has 74 billion mobile monthly active users.
- It has 55 billion mobile–only monthly active users.
- It has 15 billion mobile daily active users.
- Nineteen percent of time spent on mobile devices is on Facebook.
Here are the top social media sites in the world based on the number of active users, in millions:
- Facebook – 2234
- YouTube – 1500
- WhatsApp – 1500
- Facebook Messenger – 1300
- We Chat – 980
- Instagram – 813
- Tumblr – 794
Truly, social media has changed the way of life of at least two billion people on this planet.
There is, however, a growing concern regarding the effects of social media. A study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that the more a person uses Facebook, the more likely he or she is to experience “negative physical health, negative mental health, and negative life satisfaction.” This is according to Holly Shakya, assistant professor and social media researcher at the University of California, San Diego.
Another study done by Brigham Young University Idaho found that the more time people spend on social media, the more likely they are to be lonely. According to Robert R. Wright, director of the Health Psychology emphasis in the BYU–Idaho Psychology Department, the study found that as daily social media time increased for participants, so did “perceived loneliness and depressive symptoms,” including feeling alone or blue, lacking motivation, or having a hard time sleeping.”
For a brief moment let’s think about the millions of social media users and what they are doing as this very moment. Most likely, just like you and me, they are locked in their mobile device screens, either sending text messages to others or using of social media, so engrossed in what they are doing that they hardly talk anymore to whoever is with them at present. This is a common sight in restaurants, in waiting areas, even on public transport, among families and friends. People are no longer talking to each other but are glued on their screens, oblivious about what is happening around them.
Before I continue though, let me say that the problem is not with social media. Just like everything else, these developments are very helpful and beneficial if they are put to good use. Maybe, just maybe, we are not using it right, and we have abused it to the point it’s creating problems instead of solutions.
Today, I am on my 4th day (out of seven) of my social media fast. I followed the challenge given by Russel M. Nelson, president of the LDS Church, to disengage from my constant reliance on social media and to see what happens! Still on the 4th, but I love what I am “seeing” already. How about you? Would you like to try as well?
(Maria Christina I. Concepcion is a member of the RID 3870 Rotary Club of Kalayaan Cagayan de Oro.)