Social Media: Good or Evil?

By Shay Sweet

Social Media is perceived as one the greatest technological advances of today’s generation.  Social Media provides individuals with a sense of community as well as giving people a platform to integrate opinions into the world.  With every great idea, there is a contrasting view, making many people question how safe social media sites really are, and how they are affecting our relationships with those around us.

Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Skype, Pinterest, etc., have changed the way people interact with one another,  due to constant updates about what is going on around the world, in your hometown or even in your own house.  Social media allows people to connect with others at the touch of keyboard, making it easier to form relationships and enter ourselves in numerous networks.  Online, you have the opportunity to meet people from all different walks of life that you wouldn’t necessarily have had the chance to without it.  You can find individuals who share similar passions, hobbies and dreams, giving you the chance to fit in.  Social media is also great for businesses to set themselves apart and establish a brand, as well as reaching out to its consumers in a discussion based environment.

What bad could possibly come from a place where humans come together to just be themselves? The positive effects from these sites seem overpowering at first glance, but recent studies have shown that the illusions produced from these environments are what inevitably drive their popularity.  With more leeway to put your information online come more privacy issues, which can diminish your own reputation and unknowingly allow others to harm you.  If an individual authors negative comments or information, it could damage how people perceive them online.

It is too easy to produce a false image on the internet.  People can edit what they write about themselves, choose which pictures others see and join groups that can “fit” your desired facade.  Becoming engrossed with being admired online can weaken your interpersonal skills with the lack of face to face interaction.  Another reason people flock to online websites would be an absence of affection in their personal lives.  Whether it is from your parents, friends or a significant other, if you are not getting the attention deserved, the altering of your image can cause others to “like” you online.

One of the largest issues facing the internet and social media today is that of cyber bullying.  Cyberbullying.us reports that 33% of today’s youth is subjected to online bulling in some way or another and can be found commonly in chat rooms, on your Facebook page or sometimes even in your email.  The National Crime Prevention Council states that more than half of teens today are exposed to cyber bullying, whether they are the ones being bullied or the ones doing the harassing.  Those being attacked often attain low self-esteem, depression, skip school often, get poor grades and in the worst cases can even lead to suicide.

Another effect of social media sites is the Emotional Contagion Effect, which is when the feelings of one user are transmitted to whoever they are communicating with.  Studies show that you are 53% more likely to absorb the feelings of someone in your network when they are promoting feelings such as anger or hostility.

Social Media has also been known to be a large downfall in many relationships.  Humans rely on technology to find out who someone is,what their interests are, and if they would be a perfect fit for them, rather than getting to know the person outside the web. They communicate through chats and emails rather than talking on the telephone or meeting for a meal. When a person is  in a relationship, social media can lead to suspicion, jealousy and often times cheating.

These sites can be used to stay in touch with old friends, meet new business contacts or post pictures from an excursion to a foreign place.  People can write blogs relating to their interests and share thoughts with others just like you.  Belonging to a Social media outlet is by no means a bad thing to be a part of.  People should remain educated and take small steps to keep this amazing creation from being tainted.

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