Originally I wrote this as a homework assignment, but I really got into it. It intrigues me when i hear the negative things people have said about Social Media and how it’s been affecting us as a society and humankind in general, so this is my response to the social media haters out there as well as just something social media lovers can read and keep in the back of their heads in case you ever have a run in with a social media hater who poses an argument. Bottom line I just hope it helps clear things up in some way or another.
It has been argued from the earliest of developments whether or not social media is good or bad. Many have taken a stance against it saying that it is harming the youth of today pushing them into a state of anti-sociality and others argue it’s a good thing that allows us to connect with those who we might normally have difficulty connecting with. My personal stance that I will be fighting for is that: yes, social media is a good thing.
I want to start this post off addressing the negatives of social media, or at least the negatives that people claim based off of social media. First of all is the social media side-effect of cyber-bullying a new way for people to prey on others through the internet. Many have pointed out the cases of people being bullied online leading to depression and even suicide by the victims, one thing that’s important to remember though is that bullying happens in real life as well as online. It is practically impossible to refrain people from picking on others whether it be through social media or in reality. In any case though bullying is going to happen, it’s sad to say I know, but the truth is still there. Whether online or offline social media cannot be blamed for the side-effect of cyber-bullying which is just that: a side-effect. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yik Yak, etc are not to blame for the arguments, wars, accusations, fights, and general drama that goes on they did not create it they simply created a place where it can happen. The concept to remember, though, was that cyber-bullying was obviously not the purpose of the creation of social media. Anything can be perverted from its original purpose and the same is the case with social media.
Another issue many have with social media is their privacy. Many think that social media is constantly taking the information that we share online and shares it with companies and organizations. This is true social media does in fact pass this information around, but one also has to remember that they were the ones who posted that information in the first place. Any random person on Twitter can see a post you made so how is that any different than a company happening to stumble upon it as well? You as the consumer of the social media site are putting yourself out there, and all those companies that get your information pay good money to do so which pays for sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up online and so you can keep playing Candy Crush and posting selfies. Social media sites have terms and conditions that one agrees to in order to create an account and on top of that they can only use the information that one gives them.
So far we have seen that all the complaints made about social media and what it supposedly does to us all revolve around the individuals. We see that individuals are responsible for bullying others online, we see that it is the individual who is responsible for what they post publicly online, and now we will discuss how it’s the individual’s responsibility to be responsible when they partake in the fruit that is social media. In many of today’s workplaces whether it be schools or businesses we see an increased use of technology: tablets, computers, laptops, and even phones all capable of accessing social media. With this in mind there is the argument that social media is distracting us from our jobs and the work we should be doing. It is known that many employees have been found slacking off during work because they are chatting with someone on Facebook, or young adults and kids caught sneaking a look at their Twitter feed during class time, and it has thus been claimed that it is social medias fault. Why, though, is social media blamed like it is a person waving its hands about in front of us diverting our attention from our work when in all reality social media is an inanimate object unable to grab us and drag us away from what we should be doing? Again, I venture to say that it is we who are allowing ourselves to become distracted by social media, we can make choices we are free-minded beings not robots whose minds are being controlled by the creators of our online societies. Also, we could be just as easily distracted by a book or television as we could with Facebook or Twitter.
Studies show that Social Media is a close second place just behind newspapers for how people receive their news, with 28.8% of people receiving their information from newspapers and 27.8% from social media. Social media is so instantaneous that it outdoes any other news source in existence. People who were at the scene of an event have the ability to immediately share what they’ve seen on social media as it’s happening, this may sometimes detract from the accuracy of the news due to people having the tendency to lie and exaggerate, as well as the fact that you’re seeing it from one person’s view as opposed to the story as a whole but bottom-line these issues result in any medium of getting our news anyways.
We discussed a little about social media and school earlier, but there’s another aspect we haven’t even delved into about how social media can positively affect school and students and that is the fact that a lot of schools use social media as a way to get information around as well as turning in assignments. During my own senior year at high school we began using Google docs as a way of turning in assignments, and schools all over the US and even the world are doing this. Here at Buena Vista University we use Angel and Canvas to get notes, times, dates, homework, etc for classes. We can use Facebook to connect with other students while doing a group project. Social media allows us to keep from using as much paper which in turn helps the environment (never thought that was possible through the internet).
Social media has allowed us to connect. I can talk to someone all the way around the world in seconds from my phone. Many, though, have argued that it makes us antisocial but I beg to differ. I again will return to the argument I made before in that one’s choice to lack in interactions due to their over usage of social media. Yes social media can be addicting, but that only means it’s up to the user to decide when too much is too much.
One aspect I think is great for social media that has been under a lot of debate is: an employer using it to look into their employees or potential employees profiles. I’ve heard it said that this is unethical but I beg to ask the question: why? Why is it so wrong for an employer to see what an employee is publicly posting online? Other people are seeing it, so why is it so bad for me, a boss of a company or branch, who wants a hard-working employee who is going to be a positive piece of my workforce, who I will be paying with my companies money, and looking into what their like. If that person is a partying, racist who demoralizes women over Facebook posts, he’s not going to tell me that in his interview. As I’m going to say later on, social media is a tool and if it’s available to me as an employer I have the right to use it.
As far as economic growth goes social media has helped create jobs as well as helps businesses both big and small. Even aside from free advertisement it allows businesses to easily post information as well as deals for their customers. It helps small businesses to grow and become recognized, and allows customers to easily gain access to their products. As discussed in the book Spreadable Media social media is “spreadable (it’s in the title). This is what allows us to see something we like and share it around with others. This aspect works wonders for companies, businesses, and the like because it publicizes their product or service, what people do and don’t like, and shows them where they can improve.
In conclusion I would like to reiterate that I stand for social media. We as human beings have choices we are capable of making and those choices have outcomes both positive and negative. What we do with social media is our choice, remember: social media is a tool and we decide how we use it. In the words of Estaban Contreras the author of Social State: Thoughts, Stats and Stories about the State of Social Media in 2013:
“We create and collaborate on virtual collages with Pinterest, we upload real-time videos on Socialcam, we learn together on Udemy, we shop for our friends on Amazon, we turn links into memes on Reddit, we share presentations on SlideShare, and we stream out friends’ favorite songs on Spotify. The web, or at least most of it, has become social, and this is because it is a reflection of what we care most deeply about.”
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Jenkins, Henry, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a
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