girl with hat about being anti-social

Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram: Anti-Socialization

Socializing in a time of isolation

In recent months, we have found ourselves separated from loved ones and colleagues, as well as from the opportunity to make new friends by going out and about. More than ever, we are relying on technology to communicate. Video calling app Zoom saw its user base increase by 2,000% between January and April 2020 [1] as we went online to speak to friends and family, take part in meetings, or find new ways to participate in social events. More social media approaches are needed to address the loneliness of isolation and social distancing, using online platforms as a solution.

Let’s talk about social media

Social media was already a significant part of our daily lives. Can you remember the last time you spent the day without checking Facebook, Instagram, or whatever your preferred social media platform is? Have you checked it in the last hour? There is no doubt that we are under the spell of social media. In its infancy, only about 5% of people in the US used social media, but by 2019, that number had grown to around 70% [3].

There are a few platforms, each with its own particular user base. In 2019 the most popular platforms for adults were YouTube and Facebook. Older teens prefer Snapchat and Instagram, while TikTok has a younger audience. [3] LinkedIn and Twitter are popular amongst professional users – people representing themselves and their brands.

While older generations do use social media, it is a particularly important part of young people’s lives. Research shows that 97 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds use at least one of the seven most popular platforms. And use it they do – the average teen aged 13 to 18 spends about nine hours on social media every day, with tweens aged 8 to 12 online for up to six hours a day! [3] Perhaps adults should leave social media to the kids and find our own way to socialize online.

We are not trying to say that all that time is not well spent; social media certainly has its benefits. For example, it allows us to connect with friends and family (which is especially important during lockdown when we cannot visit them), stay on top of current trends, and find entertainment. Other pros include finding information about businesses or brands, getting career advice or learning new skills, and marketing your own business.

But can there be too much of a good thing? While these are all positive points, our social media apps can be bulky and full of misinformation. It is difficult to go online to chat with a friend without finding yourself scrolling through all the latest posts from family, businesses and celebrities. You may start out wanting to chat with your grandma but end up having an argument with a stranger about politics, or buying a diamond-encrusted jacket that your dog doesn’t really need. There is a lot of noise on social media, and sometimes we just want to silence it and focus on having a meaningful conversation.

It’s not just the clutter that negatively affects our experience of social media; there are also some well-documented disadvantages. Here are some of the key points that continually come up:

Online vs. Reality

It’s not necessarily social media that’s the problem here, but rather the way that people use it. You may only see the best side of someone’s life, an inaccurate version that could distort your sense of reality if you were to compare yourself with them. Not only that, but some of the people we call friends on social media are actually complete strangers.


This is a real thing. A study by Cornell Information Science found that 61% of Facebook users feel they must check their feed once a day as an absolute minimum. This is a clear sign of addiction. Other evidence of social media addiction includes the low mood and irritability experienced when access to it is restricted, as well as spending more time posting than actually doing things [4]. The “endless scroll” feature on most social media apps is designed to keep you online for longer as new content constantly appears. There are even detox programs and advice available online for people who think they might be addicted to their socials.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Have you ever seen a group of friends enjoying a meal together to which you weren’t invited? How about that twang of jealousy when you see your colleague posting hundreds of photos of their lovely beach holiday? Fear of Missing Out can be experienced when you see others enjoying something that you are not part of, or cannot achieve, lowering your mood and creating a feeling of disconnection.


How long have you spent staring at your phone, refreshing the page, uploading a selfie, waiting for the likes and comments to come streaming in? Many people have found themselves in desperate need of validation from people online. Measuring self-worth in likes and comments can be harmful to one’s body image and is made worse by seeing flawless pictures of models and celebrities posting only their best (and sometimes edited) photos. Statistics show that most college-aged women who use Facebook at least five times per day are more likely to link their self-worth with their appearance [3]. Again, this isn’t necessarily the fault of the social media platform, but with the way in which people use it and encourage others to behave.


This is not a new problem, but social media has taken bullying to a whole new level. For school-aged children who are bullied, ideally home would be a haven or the bullying would stop outside of a certain environment. But being connected 24/7 means bullying can continue, no matter where the victim or perpetrators are. It is also easy to hide behind a fake profile or send anonymous messages to continue the assault with no way of being identified. Some people may find fun in posting a sarcastic or negative comment on another person’s post, or just trying to start an argument. These people are referred to as trolls. While they might be having a good time, there can be serious consequences for the victims. There are few statistics, but some have been so severely affected by social media attacks that they have self-harmed or committed suicide. While this is an extreme eventuality, it just goes to show how much of an impact the words of others online can have.

There are certainly ugly sides to social media no matter what platform you are using. Everyone could benefit from spending less time on these sites, but in times like this, should we really be switching off? VideoSocialize may be the solution we are all searching for: a friendly place to meet people online and discuss shared interests or the latest trends without hiding behind a mask (surgical or otherwise!) and without all the noise and clutter of traditional social media sites and apps.

What’s your poison?

Let’s take a closer look at each of the popular social media platforms and how people use them.


Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world.

Facebook invests a lot of time and money into keeping us using the website and contributing to its sales by clicking on ad posts to make purchases or buy into its many subsidiaries. Have you ever spoken to a friend about a product you like, only to see it show in your feed ads? Businesses buy information about Facebook usage and target their content to improve sales of their product or service. Facebook has been in the press recently due to its lack of ethics when it comes to users’ data and how it is used, with some people thinking their data is sold to companies without their permission being sought. Likewise, the privacy settings used to be notoriously complicated for the average user to navigate, making users more susceptible to publishing sensitive or personal information on the internet without realizing it. Facebook has now modified the way we can amend privacy settings, but the general rule appears to be that once something is online, we lose all control over it.

As mentioned above, we might have ‘friends’ on Facebook that we don’t know at all. Users add people they might have only met once or twice, or only know online, perhaps even accepting friend requests from total strangers. Once you accept a friend, you open up your profile to them and they can see almost anything (settings dependent). There are hundreds of thousands of fake profiles on Facebook – maybe even more. Some of them have malicious intentions. Above, we mentioned bullies and trolls who just want to make fun and cause trouble, but there are also stalkers or criminals searching for sensitive information, or marketers who just want to get you to buy into something that may or may not be genuine.

Facebook has rooted itself in many of the apps and websites we use regularly. For example, it also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, and is integrated on a lot of other websites, which is convenient, but is also just another way for Facebook to collect information about you. This clutters up your feed with more targeted ads and suggestions. With its infinite scroll feature, Facebook has you hooked, sinking hours into the platform, addicted to the relentless stream of new content. It does have some useful features, such as Messenger and Rooms, which allow users to chat directly with others and create groups to hang out in. These are great for connectivity, but if you are trying to cut down on time spent on Facebook, maybe it is time to find an alternative. VideoSocialize doesn’t have all the clutter or advertisements of Facebook; it is a simple and moderated way to chat safely online without all the fuss and complications of social media.

The Audience Problem

Another key issue with Facebook is what is known as “The Audience Problem.”

Former Facebook developer Patrick Shuy, known as The TechLead, gives an insight into two aspects of the “audience problem”. One problem is how the platform can stunt personal growth. It begins when you build your profile, clicking “like” on movies, TV shows, games, books, and music you prefer (at the time). You add a few friends – close family members, your best friends, maybe even some childhood pals with whom you have lost contact. These choices represent the identity you have when you sign up, which is most likely a true version of yourself at the time. However, Shuy suggests that Facebook “can trap you within your own identity” when you make these initial choices. He purports that every time you log on to Facebook you become trapped in an echo chamber of the person you first identified as. He uses the example of someone who likes rock music. That person’s time on Facebook serves as a constant reminder of that, with posts from bands, shares in groups, and suggestions for events. As the Facebook user gets older, they might move on to another genre of music or stop listening to music altogether. However, each time they open the platform, they are confronted with content from the “old” them. Shuy worries that platforms like Facebook stunt personal development, keeping you locked down into a certain personality rather than a more natural, evolving one. [6]

Shuy also explains the privacy issues related to the “audience problem”. As an example, whenever you share posts and pictures, you likely keep in mind which of your friend and family connections these would be suitable for. However, over time, as you accept additional friend requests, your audience grows. These new friends can see previous posts and pictures, which at the time, you would not have imagined you would be sharing them with. That may not be an issue, but it could equally be a significant one. Consider a scenario where several years ago you uploaded pictures of yourself doing misguided things in your youth. Or perhaps, many years ago you shared controversial political opinions, which might even have changed since. Later you accept friend requests from co-workers or your boss, who stumble upon these pictures and posts from earlier. There have been cases where employers have made character judgements based on this, or even terminated employment over such situations [8].

Attending social events is a great way to get recommendations for new music, movies, or hobbies without being subject to Facebook’s security and privacy issues. However, during a global pandemic, that is almost impossible. An alternative to this is VideoSocialize, where you can meet people online and discuss shared interests from the comfort and safety of your home.


Instagram is a great way to show off your photography or creative skills. It has also been quite lucrative for some users, known as “influencers”, who are sponsored or paid to feature a product in their posts to their thousands of followers. Not only do they receive the product or use the service for free, but they also get paid for it. However, this does mean that some posts that seem genuine are actually a subtle advertisement. In reality, the influencer may not actually like the product, but their photo may convince you otherwise.

The photo editing features of Instagram make it an attractive app for those with artistic flair but can also have drawbacks. Photos can be manipulated to make products look better than they may be in real life, leaving buyers disappointed. Moreover, a natural-looking photo of someone looking their absolute best with amazing hair and makeup, and looking slim, fit and tanned with perfectly fitting clothes, may actually be the results of a photoshoot with professional touch-ups and edits to make that person look quite different from real life. These unrealistic images alter perceptions of reality and contribute to the idea that social media can harm someone’s body image and expectations. Unfortunately, thanks to Instagram algorithms, posts like this, which promote a product, are given precedence and are more likely to show in your timeline.


This popular platform is used by people worldwide to watch and share videos. Users can comment on videos and create playlists. It is less of a social media platform than it is entertainment, although some channels have a following that can feel like a community. YouTube has been popular during the lockdown for watching fun videos to pass the time, or for accessing informative and educational content to learn something new, or just to see someone friendly on the web. However, it can be a time sink and it lacks that true connection of other platforms.

A more social media

At the height of the Coronavirus lockdown, our internet usage shifted massively. More time spent indoors meant more time spent online socializing, working, and chilling out.

With events cancelled and people unable to visit friends and family, Americans sought out alternative ways to connect with people. Traditional social media such as Facebook increased in popularity during the early days of the pandemic. Still, it was obvious that posting cat videos and photos of freshly baked banana bread just wasn’t cutting it. Video chat became increasingly popular too. New York Times analysis shows how much:

Between January 15th and March 24th, Google Duo usage increased by 12%, website visits increased by 73.3%, and attendees of the Houseparty app increased by 79.4%.

(The percentage change was calculated from average daily traffic on January 21 to average daily traffic on March 24 [2])

This increase shows that messaging and text just weren’t enough to connect people during lockdown – we wanted to see our loved ones, as close to face-to-face as we could get. While Google Duo allows users to chat and video call, apps like Houseparty allow groups of people to join a room and play games with each other on their phones. allows users to experience the feeling of community by connecting with neighbours from the safety of their homes.

Another extremely popular video calling platform used during lockdown is Zoom. Users can create a free account and set up groups with their friends and family to schedule a video call. It is a simple, clutter-free way of connecting with people face-to-face (virtually) from around the world. Using Zoom, VideoSocialize takes all the best parts of meeting new people and chatting online with likeminded folks without all the advertisements and fabricated social media realities.


We are all looking for ways to stay connected during the pandemic, especially when we have to isolate and cannot meet friends and family. There are already plenty of social media platforms that allow us to connect and explore our interests. Still, they have their cons – constant advertising, endless scrolling, and a warped idea of reality. To avoid all of this while still making connections and exploring your interests, you can join an online mixer on Zoom with VideoSocialize. From the comfort and safety of your own home, you can link up with likeminded people face-to-(virtual)-face; you might learn something, discover a new hobby, or make a lifelong friend.



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E. Koeze and N. Popper, “The Virus Changed the Way We Internet,” The New York Times, 7 April 2020. [Online]. Available:


F. Dalomba, “Social Media: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” Lifespan, 2019. [Online]. Available:


Time to Log Off, “Social Media Addiction,” [Online]. Available:


P. Shuy, “The problem with Facebook: “The Audience Problem” (and what they don’t want you to know),” [Online]. Available:




J. Vijayan, “Facebook Patches Critical WhatsApp Security Flaw,” DARKReading, 3 October 2019. [Online]. Available:—threats/facebook-patches-critical-whatsapp-security-flaw/d/d-id/1335993.


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Article Info

Articles on the blog are commissioned by VideoSocialize from talented writers with a variety of backgrounds. All articles copyright VideoSocialize. Would you be interested in sharing your thoughts on this article in a 4 person Zoom discussion which would be uploaded to YouTube? If so, please contact us.


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