Love it, or hate it. Social media has a significant influence on our lives. But are your values being compromised?
What are values?
In my article, what you need to know about personal values, I described values as being a roadmap for your actions. They are your personal manifesto which represents your beliefs, opinions, and your attitude towards aspects of life. They show you what drives and motivates you and help answer that age-old question 'Who am I?' I'm in my 50s, and at times I still don't have a clue.
Ultimately your values provide your moral code. They dig deep into what really matters to you.
I don't believe in a long list of values – that to me sounds like a wish list of ways we would like to behave. I prefer the hard work of discovering the three core values you would live and die by. If you want to learn how to find your personal values, my article on How To Find Your Unique Personal Values will really help.
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Influence of social media – Is it compromising our values?
The increasing use of social media has left me wondering about the impact it's reach has on our values.
I'm aware social media has many good points.
- A great way to stay in touch with distant family
- Freedom of expression of different viewpoints
- A reference point for news and current events
But I worry about the negative influences it has.
- Expansion of 'fake news' and 'fake' lifestyles
- Exploitation of vulnerable people
- Corruption of our moral code
I wonder whether my disdain is because it reminds me of those cliques at school. Where people were influenced by someone, deemed to be more popular than others, either because they were prettier, funnier, or naughtier. Never because they were brighter or smarter, I'm all for inclusion, but social media seems to be promoting 'cloning'. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places, but all the girls seem to look the same.
- Blond hair
- Fake tan
- False eyelashes
I appreciate how like-minded people generally group together. Still, it does become an issue if acceptance relies on compromising our values.
When did being fake get promoted to the hall of fame?!
You can find out more on 'faking it' and the impact it has on your confidence by reading Can You Fake Confidence: Here's The Truth
Social media promotes an ideal. It provides the opportunity for people to share the good things. We see a snapshot of people's lives, a letterbox view of:
- enviable lifestyles
- 'perfect' relationships
- Beautiful bodies
The bombardment of 'happy' people. But is it true?
Is it instead an opportunity to flaunt materialistic gains? The 'look at me. I'm wonderful'. Look at what I've got.
It reeks of "keeping up with the Joneses"
We are a society obsessed with materialism. It's not surprising many luxury brands are saving money on their marketing budget by engaging with social media influencers to promote their brand. But, this raises the question of who's exploiting who?
The Growth Of Nastiness Due To Compromising Our Values
The internet has provided opportunities for good, but there is a dark side. Ditchthelabel.org, an international anti-bullying charity, estimates that around 5.43 million young people in the UK have been the victims of cyberbullying.
The statistics are staggering, and my heart goes out to those young victims.
But it's not just the young who are affected.
Where is the moral code? Is it because abusers think that they can anonymously post hurtful things behind the safety of a screen?
Are the social media companies doing enough to prevent this from happening? Reports suggest that they are slow to introduce penalties and restraints.
Sameer Hinduja at the Cyberbulling Research Center has written a great article on How Social Media Companies Should Combat Online Abuse setting forth a number of calls to action points for Social Media Companies to adopt.
Yes, I believe they should be doing more, but ultimately the responsibility lies with all of us. To what extent are we compromising our values by letting this happen?
Are we happy to stand by and let this perpetuate? Which of our values are we compromising by not doing something.
Hope For The Future
The pervasive nature of social media is full steam ahead. But I retain a sense of hope for the defence against compromising our values.
A study undertaken by The Common Cause Foundation titled Perceptions Matter: The Common Cause UK Values Survey in 2016 discovered that 74% of people value compassionate over selfish values.
Compassionate values include
- protecting the environment
- social justice
Selfish values include:
- social recognition
- social status
- preserving public image
We, as consumers have a choice. We can turn our backs, switch off our electronic devices and enjoy the peace of reconnecting with the values we hold dear to us. We can refuse to allow the compromising of our values.
Don't get sucked into the media frenzy of the 'next big thing'.
Choose values over sensationalism.
You'll be happier as a result.