After Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg gave his testimony in front of the U.S. Congress regarding online privacy practices it has me asking myself, what have I been unknowingly influenced by on the internet? Or how have “innocent” social media posts affected me?
Just last week a friend and I were talking about different advertisements that have popped up on our social media accounts. We are aware that anything we search could eventually come back to us through advertisements on social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram, but what we were not aware of is that any information we put out is now being used to target us. Whether that be a conversation we had with a friend on facebook messenger or a video call we had with our cousin, our words can be used to later influence what we see and hear on the internet. Facebook has the ability to use and share our personal social media, internet searches, and personal conversations in a way that could influence our beliefs and decision making.
So how does this relate to drug and alcohol recovery? People are so quick to blame drug addiction on personal circumstances and family background, but what if the biggest culprit is actually the internet? Could the information we put out about ourselves and what we are allowing ourselves to view each day play a significant roll in substance abuse?
Yesterday a friend of a friend had “liked” a link to an event in my city, an event advertised as “a night filled with good music, friends, and brews”. This specific event was being put on by a local brewery who was hosting a few local bands in an effort to promote the release of their new summer IPA. I noticed a lot of friends were either “interested” or “going” to the event, which made me feel like I had to interact with the event posting in some way. If I was a person struggling with alcohol abuse this seemingly harmless Facebook event could have a negative affect on me. Yes, this event was promoting having fun with friends and enjoying good music, but the event itself is centered around the consumption of alcohol. Feeling the pressure to attend an activity where everyone around me is casually drinking via my personal social media and internet is not fair. Social media and the internet have the power to get in the way of one’s recovery from substance abuse, or even worse: make a person feel they have to hide their problem and not seek help.
I believe that there needs to be more restriction and monitoring of social media outlets and major web based corporations. Big corporations like Facebook and Google should not be allowed to influence our decisions or beliefs, negatively impact our relationships, or hinder our efforts to better ourselves or fight addiction. The internet and social media needs to go back to what it was originally intended for: a safe platform for us to learn, grow, share, and support each other.