In this essay, I will be exploring the ways in which Social media helps to bridge the gaps between us and how it positively and negatively reflects on the people and me.
What is social media? Social media, to me, is a way of connecting people from all over the world together. It is growing so fast that we are keeping up to date with everything. Web 2.0 gave the Internet such power in which everything we want to know about is available and so easy to share it with other people on so many media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and finally, my favorite, Snap chat. Snap chat provides live broadcasts snaps, which makes it interesting to use. Many celebrities are using it to snap their lifestyles in which some of them are inspiring and fun to watch. Some may find it addicting in a way that they feel that it is a way of escaping reality and relying on what social media has to offer to them every day.
The use of social media made it easy to achieve activities like interaction, sharing, connecting, networking, building, and creating. In other words, it is shown that we are learning better through using social media as working with others makes it supporting and beneficial.
The flexibility of the social media tools made it easy and powerful to use, which allows the students to build their own websites and learning places. Students are taking part more actively and creatively in their education and studying as many media platforms gave them many opportunities in this field.
Social media provides us with new platforms for communication. It allows us to share and network and collaborate with each other.
We do not normally use all the social media services available; we choose to use only one or two main functions of each service and get away and ignore the others. Many will watch YouTube clips, but not many will actually share and upload them. Sometimes when we need to know about something, we use Wikipedia to gain some knowledge about a specific matter or subject.
Some lecturers assume that it would be easy to use the significance of media tools in the field of studying as students are comfortable using them every day for communicating with family and friends. But, a study in the US states that 87 percent of students said that face-to-face interaction with their teachers is extremely important (EDUCASE 2012).
Parents, on the other hand, worry about their children spending time online while being isolated as they might experience addiction to using social networks and gaming sites. Children are also exposed to aggressive and sexually explicit materials, which affects them mentally. Communicating with their friends is now mostly through texting through social network sites and mobile phones (Livingstone 2009).
On the other hand, digital media is seen for its wonderful potential to bring families together, yet seen as capable of interacting and disrupting children’s school and family life, so they put restrictions on their children’s access to social media or gaming until homework and housework are completed.
Despite all of that, many parents are happy to share media use with their children, and that new media is used to bring families together ( Livingstone 2011).
Long-distance communication is considered, which involves the management of relationships due to the increase in global migration. They often leave for employment, and who leaves behind her children. This leads to distant mothering. (Hondagenu and Avila 1997)
Mothers use the technology to keep in touch while they are away. At the same time, this can create conflict between parents and children. Mothers prefer to communicate with their children using voice-based communication such as Skype. Yet children prefer email as they find phone calls are distracting.
Many different types of bonds are enabled through social network sites. Significantly, their social network sites are often used to maintain contact with the family overseas, so they post photos that allow an individual to keep in contact with family through shared social events in posts like on Instagram or Snapchat.
The risks of social media use for children are on top of every parent’s list. They are anxious about the effects of excessive use of this matter on their education and well being.
Parents who seem to be inexperienced in the usage of social media often anger children. Conversely, some families take this chance to bond together to learn about this with their children.
Social media is also known for its political view as Twitter gained prominence as a powerful media outlet. People thought the world is not just listening and reading, but they are responding and participating in many social movements. News is not always at the center of a Twitter user’s attention; the user is freely participating in any particular story when they are interested. Just like the radio, you choose what you hear; if you don’t like the song, then you just skip the channel. (DHIRAJ MURTHY)
Facebook, one of many social platforms, is the most popular networking site. The easy communication with one another online and offline made it interesting to use with the members. Through posting and sharing, the distribution of information is easily spread amongst members. Furthermore, Facebook has an application that you can easily download to your mobile phone, ensuring users get easy and fast access from their devices. Like any other social networking site, you expect to see inappropriate feeds online in which we tend to see minor negativity of people’s experiences, some may wish to help, and the others just skip and ignore it if they wish.
I believe that social media has brought us together and pushed our part; without it, I do not believe we would be as close as we think. Using Skype and Snapchat really makes it easy to contact whoever and whenever you want. It comes down to balancing our lives by putting restrictions and not spending too much relying on it.
Discussing social media in terms of the divides in society, it is important to remember that apart from bringing people together, they also increase the level of loneliness and isolation in the society. For example, there is no need to conduct research to see how people’s life has changed after the Internet and social media became an important part of their daily lives. Namely, the contemporary people started to spend much more time alone brewing the web or checking their social media pages instead of going outside and live more active lives.
It goes without saying that the initial intention behind the social media platforms was to facilitate communication and bring together people from different parts of the world by means of live chatting, content sharing, and instant messaging. Being too busy building our social media profiles and maintaining connections, we tend to get distracted from reality and the people who are close. Thus, spending hours in chats contacting one another via the computers, we grow lonelier due to the lack of actual face-to-face communication.
Besides speaking of the creation and maintenance of social media profiles, it is important to discuss how self-representation on the Internet impacts people. Researchers notice that spending a lot of time on social media such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook causes people to have mental health problems such as depression, paranoia, apathy, and stress (Hunter 2015). In reality, this effect is created because the users of social networks tend to post only the positive news, flattering pictures, and interesting events of their lives.
That way, the users create a false impression of really exciting and happy lives, which is not always true. At the same time, the people who browse these profiles tend to compare their own daily lives to the perfected and artificially created profiles of the others. As a result, the users begin to feel bad about their everyday lives being not as exciting and eventful. Accordingly, the feeling of their own unsuccessfulness and loneliness increases because they begin to think that their lives are dull, unimpressive, and boring.
This phenomenon is similar to the pressure on women created by the false beauty standards promoted in commercials and magazines where the faces and bodies of the models are photoshopped heavily to look perfect, which makes the real women inadequate and bad looking. In other words, social media create social pressure for everyone to either lead extremely successful and full of events lives or fake success on social networks in order to fit in with the masses.
Another issue closely related to social media is the problem of privacy. It is true that social media allowed better and faster communication between people all around the globe. At the same time, as people became easier to access, so did the information. In other words, the things that are private and secret may easily leak to the Internet and then quickly become viral because everyone can see them and share them with others. Fast Internet connection makes images and news fly around the world in seconds, no matter who they belong to. I think it is possible to state that in the contemporary world, privacy is very limited and instead is replaced by publicity. For example, the subjects that used to be considered as very personal (diseases, deaths, accidents, divorces, and couple breakups) are widely spoken about on the Internet.
The problem of privacy affects the well-known people the most. While in some European countries, the celebrities still have the right to prevent their accidental pictures from being published by not giving such permission, in the United States, everything is made public, and nobody cares to ask the celebrities whether or not they would like certain pictures of themselves being available to everyone (Jones 2010).
Besides, it is important to mention that the problems of privacy do not only concern famous and rich people. The average users of social media face this risk as well. First of all, unflattering or personal photos of people can be published by others. Also, personal data in the profiles online can be hacked, stolen, and used for various purposes. Modern society is obsessed with revealing secrets and mysteries of people, hidden facts, and shocking truths. As a result, none of the social media users are absolutely safe from violations of privacy.
People online are often bullied and threatened. In fact, cyberbullying is a very serious issue for both children and adults. It is complicated by a number of factors. First of all, cyberbullies can hide easily and never be punished for what they do. Secondly, cyberbullies can access anyone because profiles are available to everyone. Thirdly, threats and bullying online are not easily punished because, in many cases, they are not taken seriously – in other words, they are not treated as actual crimes but just angry words on a webpage that can be viewed as someone’s free speech.
In addition, communication on social media is available to everyone; it is not as fast and effective as it is perceived. The online chat takes a much longer time than a conversation on the phone or a real life conversation. Also, it lacks the emotional aspect and thus may lead to miscommunication or misinterpretation. Chats on social networks cannot replace talks with close people such as family members, partners, and friends. They are able to provide a temporary replacement, but the individuals are still left with the feeling of emptiness and isolation (Hunter 2015)
In other words, it is possible to conclude that social media serve as the bridge in society and minimize multiple divides by means of bringing people together, helping them find one another, connect, communicate, maintain friendships and relationships. At the same time, enhancing the positive and useful sides of social interaction, the media also bring out all the negative and disturbing aspects of it. That way, because communication has become more active and available, it started to reveal many social issues that have been in place for many years or new ones that only appeared with the emergence of social media. In other words, social media create more opportunities but also establish more boundaries and limitations.
In other words, the modern individuals who are known for the heavy use of the Internet and social networks need to be aware of the advantages and threats presented by the latter in order to make the correct choices and coexist safely with the other users without exposing themselves to the dangers of social networks but enjoying their benefits and positive sides.
Hunter, M 2015, Why Social Makes Us Even More Lonely. Web.
Jones, SD 2010, The Price of Fame: Celebrities and the Right to Privacy. Web.