What if the world banned Social Media?

If social media was simply switched off, what would be the damage?

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Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

As I was walking home yesterday a thought crossed my mind. What if we banned social media, what if the world simply turned the switch off and let the marmite entity fade into the history books?

It was a pleasant thought whilst it lasted, as the practicalities of such action quickly swam over me. It would offer humans a fresh start, a means to cleanse the soul, but then that would be unfair to platforms in which people engage in decent discussion and not bullying.

Banning social media would never work but it is fun to imagine what the outcomes could be.

Would it be of benefit to do so?

From the perspective of freedom, I would suggest that it would be a benefit. Social media can fuel paranoia and bring out the worst in us. All you need to do is scroll through some of the messages that followed the 2020 Presidential Election.

Within these tweets, you can see the worst of humanity and you imagine that most of these individuals would not act the same way in real life. Most of us would not walk across the road and shout at a stranger. It simply is not done but social media provides a level of anonymity that we do not have in real life.

Losing social media from our lives would make us more accountable and hopefully, more thoughtful.

What would we lose?

As much as I am showcasing an evergreen vision of removing social media from our lives, we would lose access to more than we gain. Yes, there are those out there who spread hate but the majority of users fall into the more rational realm.

  • There are hundreds of thousands of groups on social media which connect people together
  • Social media gives those without a voice, a platform to be heard
  • Social media has kept people connected during the pandemic

There are other points which could be added but the gist is clear, social media connects those who may have been previously forgotten about. It is a powerful tool to unite those who would have their voices ignored. Mis-use of the platforms is rife but for those that use it in the manner intended, the benefits are clear.

Connecting everyone across the globe to explore before forgotten about concerns and bringing them to light is something which social media does well. George Floyd and the horrible treatment that was levelled against him was brought to life through the power of social.

Could the world even turn it off?

Yes. We could shut down the servers of all the platforms across the world. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, could all be shut off, not easily but we could, with a co-ordinated effort flick the switch and end it all.

It would naturally not be as easy as all of this and all the corporations above could not be silenced easily. There would be calls for the protection of freedom of speech and with all their influence it would not be as easy as switching the light off.

Withdrawl would be a side effect not easily lost through the termination of social media. In the short term, this would create a short, sharp shock that may wake some up to the fact that they are lonely. How many of those 500 friends on Facebook do you regularly speak to?

A virtual underground

In a similar fashion to torrents, social media would inevitably continue in some way, shape or form. As quickly as injunctions are approved to shut down torrent sites, another ten appear. It is a never-ending battle and with tech skills across the world in vast supply, you would not need to look far to discover a substitute.

Cloned sites and proxy services would pop up to the annoyance of those pulling the plug, but there would be nothing they could do. There are more websites than the total number of lifeforms on the planet earth.

The internet is a large jungle and you could easily hide sites, thus ensuring the future of social media. It is something, just like the internet that has become so entrenched in our lives that we cannot simply flick a switch and delete it.

How much money is social media worth?

That is something that is incredibly difficult to quantify.

Looking online for a moment, you can get a very arbitrary overview, which conveys how much money the average social media website is worth it.

‘Not taking into account the large market value of Facebook and YouTube, the average social networking company is valued at $18 billion, but this value is likely high due to lack of valuation data on the majority of social media companies. The estimated average revenue of a social media company is $2.4 billion.’
How much is the average social media company worth? Askwonder.com

With hundreds, if not thousands of social media sites across the world, you begin to see how this goliath is an industry that will not be disappearing anytime soon.

A final thought

The world could not ban social media, at least not in my lifetime. It is an entity that has replicated many times within the confines of the internet to ensure that it cannot be easily removed. It gives voices to the voiceless members of society from across the world to ensure they are heard.

Being inclusive is the core promise of social media and one that we hold dear, but like many inventions, it has been perverted over the last decade. All you need to do is look at the average political or celebrity news feed and it is filled with equal amounts of hate, as it is love. Social media has become a polarising beacon, changed from its original purpose.

I personally believe that there is a place for social media, but I feel as though it has become a parady of itself. It was about inclusivity and belonging, yet now it is used to spread lies and disinformation. The fact that it has reached this level is a sad reflection on mankind and one in which needs to be updated.

Social media is as inclusive as it is exclusive. It is an exercise in frustration and one that I observe more than engage with.

Written by

A writer of many things, all of which make him think or smile.

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