Social media has had a profound effect on society in the last few years, with entities like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all becoming ingrained in our day-to-day lives. Whether or not their impact has been a positive thing remains to be debated. While there are no doubting the positives, there are certainly some negatives too. In this article, we look at both sides of the argument.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have been around since the mid-2000s. As technology has become more ubiquitous, more and more people have accessed various social media sites. As the years have gone by, it has got to the stage where social media dominates the lives of many. As mentioned in the introduction, how positive the impact of social media has been remains to be debated.
Arguments FOR Social Media Being Positive:
- Keeping in Contact: At its best, social media provides a platform for people to keep in contact. Whether this means keeping in contact with long-distant friends or just talking with a friend, social media is great for keeping people in touch.
- Communication: Social media has also made communication easier. No longer is there an over-reliance on e-mail and fax machines. Now, you can communicate with people instantaneously.
- Education: Social media brings together people from every walk of life. This means that when you grow up with social media, an individual can see different ideas from different people and cultures. This helps to educate people, and help them learn to see things from different perspectives.
- Meet New Friends: For people who want to meet new friends, social media is great. No longer do you have to rely on getting along with people in your neighbourhood or town – now you can make friends with people all over the world.
- Gives a Voice to all: Social media gives a voice to every person. Previously marginalised groups, such as LBTQ+ have a chance to be heard. Politicians too from outside the major political parties can secure support.
- Stay Informed: Social media is used by the vast, vast majority of news outlets in the world. News stories are published online. This means users not only get a balanced view from a multitude of sources, but that they can stay informed with the news of the world.
- Crisis Support: In the case of natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes, social media sites have been used to secure donations to help the recovery aid. Huge donations have been received as a result, helping those affected.
- Business Growth: Many businesses have been able to harness the potential of social media to create their own service. An example would be the various applications on Facebook like Farmville. It is a cost-effective way for many companies to distribute materials. This entire area provides many more jobs, and is good therefore for the economy.
- Protection: Social media has been used in recent times by people who want to raise the alarm about someone missing. There have been cases where an announcement on social media has led to missing people being identified.
- Combatting Terrorist Incidents: In some cases, terrorist attacks have been announced on social media – meaning that many lives could have been saved. It can also be used to communicate with people in immediate danger, and help them escape alive.
Arguments AGAINST Social Media Being Positive
- Antisocial?: Going against what it was intended to do so, there is a wide body of evidence to suggest that social media actually makes people less social. In the pre-social media age people would commonly see others face-to-face, the ease of communications could make people lazier, and unlikely to see others face-to-face, instead favouring digital communication.
- Increasing Divisions: Perhaps social media pushes us further away from one another – into sub-groups and communities. This can lead to poor relations between different social groups.
- Distraction: Social media is also a common distraction. It has been proven to affect productivity both at work and at school. One study concluded that British companies lose over $2bn each year due to a loss in productivity linked to social media!
- Platform for Hate: Social media’s nature means everyone is given a platform. But unfortunately, this means those with a hate-filled agenda can also receive a platform to speak on. A large amount of people can be reached by their words too. Trolling is a common internet problem.
- Body Issues: Social media appears to champion models who all seem to have a similar body shape. When many people appear with the ‘perfect’ body, it can cause problems in terms of what people believe to be realistic. This can cause body confidence issues, and wider self-esteem problems.
- Cyberbullying: Bullying has always been a problem, but the advent of social media has opened up a whole new avenue of bullying. Those being bullied can be tormented by others outside of school. There have been several high profile cases where people being cyber-bullied have unfortunately taken their lives.
- Distressing Content: Sometimes distressing content can be shared on social media, which can lead to this material being seen by vulnerable people. This in turn can cause shock, and in some cases can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Fake Accounts: Another issue in social media is fake accounts. Younger people are often groomed, supposedly speaking to someone they think is a friend, only to have harmful intentions. This can put children and others in danger.
- Addiction: Social media has been likened to a drug – in that people get addicted to social media. It has arguably taken over our lives, and is surely over-used. Many people spend far too long on social media.
- Election Meddling: There have been some cases in recent history where social media has been used in a mendacious manner – with some elections possibly being affected by meddling.
READ MORE DEBATES:
- The Abortion Debate
- The Death Penalty Debate
- American Gun Laws Debate
- Overseas Drone Strikes: Arguments For and Against
- The Euthanasia Debate
- Ed Snowden: Hero or Traitor?
- Is Social Media a Good Thing?
- ‘Drug Smuggler’ Lindsay Sandiford: What Does She Deserve?
- Animal Testing: Arguments For and Against
- Capitalism vs. Communism
- Formula One: Time to Change?
- Wikipedia: Reliable Source?
There is no doubting the positive impact social media has had on some aspects of our lives. However, this effect has been so profound that it has affected us in many negative ways too. When social media is used in the correct way, it can be a great addition to our lives. Unfortunately, there are many, many negatives too.