The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
Social media is not so new anymore, and most Americans use some form of it in their day-to-day lives. In fact, in just 2021 alone, over 4 billion people worldwide used social media. That’s most of the humans on Earth!
So why is it that it seems like people lose their moral compass and start to turn “ugly” online? Why do people cyberbully? Is there some reason why morality doesn’t seem to exist in the online space? Let’s take a look at the stats and see why social media affects morality and how you can stop it.
How Does Social Media Affect Morality?
According to many studies, social media has a profound effect on the opinions and emotions of those who use it. It’s basically a social clique on a worldwide level. Everyone wants to be part of the “in” crowd. However, the “in” crowd is hundreds of thousands of people, and it’s so much larger than in real life.
When you’re fighting to keep up and make yourself seen among a crowd of 4 billion people who use social media daily, you’re fighting some very low odds. For many people, the desire to “go viral” or be seen can become somewhat of an addiction, and even not getting enough likes on a photo can cause someone to spiral.
These deep feelings, mixed with the reality of the possibilities online, can create a digital “VIP club,” and these people will do almost anything to keep their status or gain more status and money. When you add money into the picture, people can stray even farther away from their morals.
In real life, someone may believe strongly in being honest and modest, and open-minded. Online, they may become an entirely different persona. It’s easy to be mean, cruel, and judgmental online, so people do it often. If there is no backlash, why not?
This phenomenon has been discussed by psychologists for a while now. Why do people act like another person entirely when they’re behind a screen? It likely has to do with social pressure, the desire to fit in, and the false sense of freedom and liberation that can be had online.
If you want to learn more about social media and its effects on morals and mental health, you can also check out BetterHelp’s online advice column here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/morality/.
How To Report Cyberbullying
If you notice severe cyberbullying online, this is still a crime. In fact, there are many types of cybercrime that can occur, even if people think that the internet is private. Almost any online activity can be tracked and viewed by the FBI and other authorities in the US.
You can even report cybercrime on the FBI’s website. If you are experiencing bullying from someone at your university or school, make sure to report this to your school’s authorities first. There are usually immediate actions that can be taken in real life if someone is threatening you.
How To Keep Your Morals Online
So, how do you keep your morals online when it seems like half the world is not? Here are a couple of ways you can stay true to yourself on the internet.
Watch What You Post
Always watch what you post and who can see it. If you want to post something that only family members can see, you can block certain people from seeing some of your posts through the privacy settings on most social media apps.
If you’re going to post something controversial or against your morals or the morals of someone you love, know that it may cause an argument. If you wish to stay in the background on social media, refrain from posting about politics, emotions, breakups, love, drama, and career happenings.
Don’t Interact With Things That Cause an Emotional Reaction
Don’t comment on videos, images, or posts that you do not agree with. Instead of interacting with them, simply block the poster or ignore the post. You can get into arguments with strangers or end up saying things you don’t mean if you become too emotionally charged. Knowing what posts make you upset and angry can help you know when to log off or when to ignore something.
Block Those With Ill Intentions
Remember, most social media platforms have a block button. If someone is hurting, cyberbullying, or threatening you, simply block them. Do not try to engage with someone that tries to push you past your breaking point in any way. People will say a lot of things online, but they likely wouldn’t say them to your face. It’s best to move on and ignore anything that is harmful to your mental health.
Use Non-Social Social Media
Finally, you are able to use social media that isn’t focused on interacting with other people. For example, on TikTok, you can scroll and watch videos without ever talking to anyone or commenting. People don’t even have to find your profile if you don’t want them to. You can make it completely private.
You can also use other forms of social media that are less focused on socializing, such as Tumblr, which allows you to run a blog of things you enjoy. Or you can try Pinterest, which allows you to create and pin boards of inspiring crafts, art, or clothing. It’s all up to you. Social media doesn’t have to be a toxic force in your life if you don’t wish to use it in that way.