Social media can be a great conduit for reconnecting old friends and keeping new ones in contact. But it can also be a cesspool of gossip, cruelty and depravity.
Facebook admits as much. It is settling for $52 million a lawsuit brought by current and former contract workers who claimed they were mentally damaged by having to screen some of the more objectionable material posted to that social network.
The lead plaintiff, for example, developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after just nine months on the job, in which she had to watch photos and images of rape, murder, and suicide to decide what content to remove from the website.
Although such damage to a person’s psyche is obvious, more insidious is what social media can do to people’s sense of self-worth.
It can make them feel that they don’t measure up to others, or that most of their relationships are unsatisfactory and superficial.
When reviewing content on a website leads to a multi-million-dollar settlement for a condition typically found in a war zone, only two words need to be said: User, beware.