Opinion: Why You Should Delete Your Social Media Account

Have you ever seen an ad on Instagram that seemed too specific to be random or ever gone down a slew of political tweets? Or, have you ever felt especially uneasy when you’re away from your phone? These are some of the negative effects of social media.

Since COVID-19 hit the world, we’re using the internet and social media more than ever, with a whopping 576% increase in Tiktok users in 2020 alone. Not only that, but more than 90% of West High students that were surveyed said they use some form of social media. And, with our increasing use of social media, whether it be for interacting with friends, buy our clothes, and even making political stances, we need to be sure we know what we’re doing, what these companies are doing, and how to keep ourselves safe.

According to a psychology professor at the University of Iowa, Ryan LaLumiere, social media plays directly into how our brains are wired. Similar to a casino, social media can give you enormous boosts of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is important as a “learning mechanism”. It creates habits and even addictions by rewarding you after doing something that requires effort. For example, you can receive dopamine after going into the world and interacting with others. It’s comparable to having a job: you do work, you get paid. Social media works in the same way going into the world does, or, as LaLumiere described, going to a casino. In a casino, you’re getting joy out of curiosity about what your risk might result in. You spend hundreds of dollars just to roll some dice. However, with social media, instead of gambling, you’re scrolling endlessly through a Twitter feed, or you’re watching clickbait-y YouTube videos. Your brain gives you a reward when you put in a little effort out of curiosity. However, unlike a casino, you don’t have a way to physically leave the internet – it’s always in your pocket. According to Yale Law School, social media companies are engaging in what is called “social media mining,” a way to track and collect data to analyze certain groups of people among social media users. These platforms are addicting, and it’s not the worst thing to worry about.

One 2017 study analyzed what was occurring with the business side of Twitter, by finding tags and digging through the information of twenty businesses. The study showed that in the six months of the study, over a million tweets were taken down by Twitter throughout the twenty businesses. Another 2017 study found how to maximize ad susceptibility by tracking as much information as they possibly could. This study was conducted by analyzing millions of tweets over the course of a year in the London Underground as much as they could, like what day the tweet was posted, what time it was posted, whether tweets were posted on holidays and even the topics of these tweets. The study was able to collect enough data to conclude that 40% of tweets were posted between 6 PM and midnight. Social media companies are analyzing everything about us, whether we like it or not, and what are they doing with that data? They’re shaping our political views.

According to Yale, two major social media companies, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, targeted specific ads toward specific people based upon the data these companies collected. These ads weren’t just for products like clothes or fast food, but, in fact, were ads shaping the way people thought of important political topics. Facebook and Cambridge Analytica influenced the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States, and Brexit in the United Kingdom, by tracking the most specific aspects of our social media usage, catering to how we operate on these sites and manipulating us into agreeing with the people who have given them money. This manipulation must stop, but how?

One of the best ways to stop this manipulation of our minds is to refrain from using social media or to delete our social media apps altogether. Keeping yourself from social media enables you to make your own choices, whether it be for your own health or in your political ideology. Social media addiction can be prevented, disinformation can be spread less easily, and we may keep our privacy. So, for your own good, delete your social media.

Works Cited

McCourt, Abby. “Social Media Mining: The Effects of Big Data In the Age of Social Media.” law.yale.edu, Yale Law School, 3 Apr. 2018, law.yale.edu/mfia/case-disclosed/social-media-mining-effects-big-data-age-social-media. Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.

Miller, Jacob A. “Social Media Addiction: How Social Media Companies Function…” University Wire, 2021 Feb 10. SIRS Issues Researcher, explore.proquest.com/sirsissuesresearcher/document/2501956369?accountid=213.

Molla, Rani. “Posting less, posting more, and tired of it all: How the pandemic has changed social media.” Vox, 1 Mar. 2021, www.vox.com/recode/22295131/social-media-use-pandemic-covid-19-instagram-tiktok. Accessed 3 May 2021.

Ramirez, Renata. “Social Media Data Mining: Understanding What It Is and How Businesses Can Use It.” sandiego.edu, University of San Diego, 3 Apr. 2020, www.sandiego.edu/blogs/business/detail.php?_focus=76022#:~:text=In%20social%20media%20data%20mining,to%20identify%20patterns%20and%20trends.&text=Third%2Dparty%20data%2Dmining%20companies,Twitter%2C%20Instagram%2C%20etc.). Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.

Ricci, Jeanne. “The Growing Case for Social Media Addiction.” calstate.edu, California State University, 28 June 2018, www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/news/Pages/Social-Media-Addiction.aspx. Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.