The clinician should be thinking about the impact, the positives and negatives, of social media on clients. Although there are positive attributes to having people connected through social media, a situation between a 23-year-old Maryland female and police highlight the potential dangers of social media. Sadly, for this 23-year-old female, to her death.
A report by the New York Times highlights how dangerous social media sites, in this case, Instagram, can be in altering a person’s behaviors. This incident serves to show how social media can persuade someone to put their lives at risk, especially during an emotionally charged situation.
The police said some of the comments people left on the posts encouraged her to defy orders to surrender peacefully, complicating the negotiations. (The police were at her home to serve her an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court for a seemingly harmless traffic violation).
Although Facebook, owner of Instagram, is moderating it’s services, there is so much a company can do if people are able to livecast situations and receive comments instantaneously. This is an example of how comments by strangers, who can remain relatively anonymous, can persuade someone who is emotionally charged to put their lives at risk and in this case also her 5-year-old child. This is not to point fingers at anyone, but to highlight the dangers of social media that we do not often think about or quickly gloss over.
The good thing is that Facebook, as well as other social media companies, are policing their sites through technology and teams of people dedicated to monitor risky or dangerous content.
A team of Facebook moderators decides what violent content can remain but will take it down if it appears to glorify violence.
This is important for the clinician to think about in conceptualizing patients, because much of our everyday lives exists online on social media sites. What difference would it make to you, the clinician, in conceptualizing a person if your client has a dependence on receiving likes, acknowledgements, and hearts on a daily basis? It is even more important at this point for the clinician to discuss and understand the impact of social media with their clients.