As technology rapidly develops, and the internet along with it, there is a lot of debate as to whether or not social media are good or bad for society. With more than 1 billion people on social media apps every day, there’s no doubt our means of communication are changing. This is a never-ending discussion but here I’ll discuss four of what I think are the top points for both sides of the argument.
PRO #1: Connectivity
Human beings are instinctively social people. Social media are NOT a substitute for human interaction, but people can connect, no matter the geographical distance between them. This is wonderful for many reasons: keeping in touch with old friends you don’t see anymore, meeting people in a community you just moved to, promoting and joining groups of like-minded people and many more. The ability to connect and communicate with people online, whom you wouldn’t otherwise have met, brings opportunities for new friendships and adventures, fueling our need for belonging.
CON #1: Lack of privacy/ Longevity
One thing parents are fighting for their children to understand is that things on the internet never completely go away. Once something is posted to the internet you can’t take it back, not even if you delete it. Employers, lawyers and anyone else can use what you’ve said in the past against you years after you’ve posted it and years after you thought you deleted it for good. As a result, whatever you post to social media contributes to a massive lack of privacy.
“We don’t share any photos of our children publicly because we feel that being public is a personal choice,” –Ashton Kutcher & Mila Kunis
Some people argue that posting a lot about your child and your life can tip criminals off as to you or your child’s whereabouts. Stalking and identity theft are two common ways people can use your information against you.
PRO #2: Wealth of Knowledge
We have access to an unimaginable amount of information that was unavailable before the digital age. Not only are social media sites the top news source for 46 percent of Americans, we can access information immediately and remotely. Online influencers use the internet to create personal sites as resources for others seeking the information they provide. For secondary and higher education students, the internet is the wealthiest source of various information. There are also many opportunities to learn things online that you may not have the opportunity to in person; through online classes or simple ‘how-to’ videos.
CON #2: Plagiarism/ Misinformation
Even though many people use social media to consume news, many users say they have encountered content they later discovered was false, a few of whom said they had posted or shared news stories they found out to be false. Because there is so much out there, and because users can upload their own information, the internet is home to vast amounts of misinformation.
The vast amounts of information out there makes it hard to pinpoint one source and identify truth from fiction. As students use the internet more and more for school projects and research, not only can they find false or misleading information, there’s always the potential for plagiarism or cheating; both of which have severe consequences.
“Today we live in a world where it is easy to confuse truth and popularity,” said Ex-Facebook Executive Chamath Palihapitiya, in a CNBC interview
PRO #3: Business & Collaboration
Social media platforms bring growth opportunities for businesses big and small. Not only do 96 percent of job recruiters use social media, almost nine out of 10 companies in the United States use social media for marketing strategies, as well as for internal communication. Many organizations use crowd-sourcing or crowdfunding to collectively accomplish goals with the help of their audience. Many consumers find new brands via social media platforms that they wouldn’t have heard of if they hadn’t been on social media. Part of brands’ social media strategies is to target people who have interacted with similar brands online already, enabling them to reach a bigger audience with ease.
CON #3: Reduced Productivity
Spending just 30 minutes a day on personal social media sites during work hours could cost you somewhere around 1,300 hours of work each year. Social media sites are addicting and when you log on to check them, you undoubtedly spend more time on them than you had planned. This hurts work and personal productivity immediately and in the long run. Studies have also shown that students who use social media during studying score 20 percent lower than students who don’t.
PRO #4: Voices
Along with an unprecedented access to information, social media has brought every user a unique opportunity to have their voices heard. Many use social media to empower each other and bring about social change. Most recently, the #MeToo campaign was revived by a celebrity, encouraging women to participate which, in turn, made it go viral. This is an incredible example of people empowering each other to speak out, be unashamed and stand up for change. This same power can stem from negativity, too.
CON #4: Cyberbullying
Technology lacks emotion, making it easier for a social media user to employ their words to attack or destroy an entity or an entity’s reputation. Studies show 52 percent of students have reported being the victim of cyberbullying with 84.2 percent naming Facebook as the site through which they have been bullied. Studies also show that middle schoolers who experience cyberbullying are twice as likely to attempt suicide. Before social media, people’s problems were sorted out face-to-face, people now have the chance to argue from behind a screen. Where there used to be the possibility of reaching an understanding and de-escalation, there is now an opportunity for people to become numb to the fact that they’re talking to another human being.
What do you think? Leave me a comment or a message!
(For a more detailed and researched list of the Pros & Cons of social media, click here).