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Group of young people sitting on a bench and all using their phones

Were you alive before social media? Someone recently asked, “Do you believe the world was better before social media?” The responses were mixed, but here are the top-voted answers.

Yes, Pre-Smartphones

Someone said, “Pre-smartphone, yes. But social media has less to do with it; we had AOL Instant Messenger and small social media sites before smartphones. If you think about it differently, it’s as if you could only smoke cigarettes at one table in your own house. It would be a lot harder to get addicted to them. Before smartphones, you didn’t take social media with you everywhere. It’s mainly smartphones.”

No, It’s Helped More Than Hurt

“Social media have helped many people communicate, make friends, and know what they want. Social media platforms are not terrible; some people misuse them, but they have more good than bad,” another suggested.

Woman looking at Reddit on her phone
Image Credit: Prathankarnpap via Shutterstock.

Yes, It’s Damaging Our Kids

“As a mom of two daughters, some of the main things that I have noticed are a shorter attention span. Videos are quick, TikTok and Snapchat, so they do not have any patience. I also think it’s made younger kids hyper-critical of themselves. When I was in school, I would compare myself to my classmates, and that’s about it.”

“Now they have the internet to compare themselves with everyone. I noticed my daughters taking many pictures of themselves and picking apart everything. When I took a photo of myself, I had to wait until the role was finished then, send it out for processing, and then when I got it back, there might’ve been one or two that weren’t blurry and that I thought I looked decent in so I was happy,” one said.

No, We Know More Because of Social Media

“No,” claimed one. “We’re all far more aware of how messed up the world is thanks to social media, which is super stressful knowledge to carry but hasn’t made things worse, to my mind. We know about child slavery, unchecked brutal capitalism, and human rights abuses.”

“We see selfishness on display daily. But read some books from the 1800s or early 1900s. Take a little dig through history. The world was never better. It was just cloaked a bit better and easier to ignore.”

Yes, Short-Form Videos Need To Go

“Short-form videos need to disappear because of their dopamine addiction problems (TikTok and YT shorts). Twitter is a dumpster fire of echo chambers interrupted by short turf wars. Facebook is a breeding ground for conspiracy theories and political propaganda,” one shared.

“Instagram fosters lonely performative interaction and disconnection from people. This is an extension of the monetized attention cable news propaganda of the 90s. Unfortunately, it all started there and has gotten worse. The monetization of attention is destroying societal bonds and friendships.”

Man sitting on a chair listening to an audiobook on headphones
Image Credit: Prostock-studio via Shutterstock.

No, it’s Sparked Reform

“No,” another said. “So many profound things have been created, done, and shared via social media. Real-time updates on world events, sharing of corruption in offices, armies, police, etc. The gathering of people to protest and get reforms passed.”

“Of course, with these tools comes the capability to create much evil. It is up to the world to regulate and eliminate. And contain these horrible things, ideas, and people. After we can do that, we will indeed be able to get the most out of social media.”

Mixed Reviews

“We are in a constant tug-of-war between utopia and dystopia with technology. Social media makes people hate each other and argue more than ever. But, at the same time, it unites the world and lets people freely discuss and share issues that are going on that we wouldn’t otherwise know,” shared one.

“For example, without social media, we would have no idea about the protests in the Middle East right now (at least not to the extent of it). At the same time, we’re divided more than ever and full of misinformation. It’s a daily battle between whether social media is great or horrible.”


“Maybe? I couldn’t imagine myself without the joy and friendships I’ve built from talking to people on social media. Obviously, social media has detrimental effects on the youth, but to say the world was overall better? I’m honestly divided,” another confessed.

This article was inspired by this thread and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Cents + Purpose.

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