Social media: the more together, the more alone

Social Media: Helpful or Harmful?

Social media has allowed millions of people to interact easier than ever. More people who may not have ever met, have begun forming relationships. News media is now able to get their information out to more people in a faster, more efficient manner. Ideas spread so easily now that most of the population is connected via the internet. However, not everything about social media is good. There are many downsides to having this sort of connectivity in our lives. Being connected at all times allows bullying of individuals to be constant, with little to no chance for escape. Spending more time at a computer or on a smartphone can lead to difficulty communicating in a social situation. Finally, there are relationship issues. Being involved in social media means staying updated, but not all updates lead to solid relationships. Social media allows for jealousy to run rampant, and for paranoia to take control.

Table Of Contents

Our focus is to show how social media has affected society as a whole, in both positive and negative ways.

-Positive effects

  • Spread of Information
  • Diffusion of Ideas
  • Enhancing Communication

-Negative effects

  • Cyber Bullying
  • Leads to in person social problems
  • Relationship Problems

Theories

Positives:

Spread of Information (news):

  • News now is being brought to people through social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook. That can be a great thing if the news is urgent or life threatening. Now it can be told to mass amounts of people very quickly through the use of social media outlets. Most major news organizations utilize the social media platform now.
  • News affiliates such as CNN and FOX News use Twitter and Facebook as a means of communicating news stories to hundreds/thousands of people who follow them on these platforms. https://twitter.com/CNN. https://www.facebook.com/cnn.
  • The interest in a story is a major factor on whether or not certain stories will be broadcast, but with social media outlets, most stories will be heard in some form or another. The low costs for these types of outlets allows more stories to be heard by a large audience, as opposed to when a news broadcast was the only method of getting a story to the public. These social media outlets allow news stations and companies the freedom to broadcast stories without having to work them into a TV broadcast, that usually lasts only 30 minutes. This type of freedom means the consumer (anyone who follows news stories) will be subjected to a wider variety of information, not only from one source.
  • Multiple sources for the same information gives the consumers a choice as to which news affiliate they will rely on for accurate and timely information. Now that there are numerous outlets and numerous sources of information, the consumers are the ones who benefit the most. People now have the choice of deciding to get their news from ABC or NBC, but also they have the choice of how they get that information, whether it's in the form of a television broadcast, or via their Facebook news feed. These choices also allow that information to spread. People can retweet a news story, or they can share it on their Facebook page. That type of freedom gets more people aware of a particular situation than ever before.
  • Journalism itself has become a field dominated by online sources and online stories. Blogs can be started by anyone, at any time (Tumblr), and they can spread any type of information that they would like to. Journalists nowadays find themselves writing stories, not meant for print, but instead for download. Many journalist also have their own Twitter or Facebook pages to give anyone on those sites an opportunity to read their work online as opposed to in a newspaper or in the news broadcast.
  • In a recent news story, a woman was kidnapped in Germantown and there was video evidence of the crime. Thanks to social media websites like Twitter and Facebook, the kidnapper in the video was identified and the woman was found. Sharing news stories such as this one led to a woman's life being saved. People who shared and spread the video around social media sites were helping stop a crime, as well as potentially saving someone's life. http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/11/06/woman-abducted-in-germantown-back-home-with-family/

Diffusion of Ideas

  • Diffusion of ideas in areas such as technology, culture and any other facet of life is now easily accessible at any time. Whether it be a quick glance at a phone or sitting at home on a laptop, we are always connected to those around us and their ideas. Though many use social media to do nothing more than socialize, many are also gaining access to literature, articles and ideas that they were oblivious too or not exposed to. Social medias' ability to raise awareness and spread new ideas rapidly makes it a strong network for thinkers and innovators alike.

Enhancing Communication

  • The social information processing theory by Joseph Walther suggests that it is possible to develop relationships with similar qualities as face-to-face relationships. This may also lead to relationships that may not have developed from face-to-face relationships due to social factors. The main point of this has to do with the fact that social media does not require face to face communication (Walther, 1992) This would also mean that communication on social media would lack social cues that would otherwise exist in a conversation. This might suggest that communication on these media would become more impersonal, but this is not the case. The loss of social cues are not fatal to developing close relationships online.
  • Another factor in the social information processing theory is the anticipation of future interactions. It is easier to organize time to talk when both do not have to be there physically, so it is easier for both parties to think about what they will talk about in the future.
  • Critiques point out that relationships developing in this way take longer to develop, however there are those who believe that it promotes better relationships. Some factors that may influence this include selective self perception, and asynchronous channels.

Negatives:

Cyber Bullying:

  • Cyber bullying is defined as, “bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.” Before social media, bullying was always done directly to a person's face, but now it's most often done behind a computer screen. Cyber bullying can affect people of all ages but it's mostly seen in adolescence. It can lead to things such as children skipping school because they are embarrassed or afraid, or even more serious things such as suicide.
  • Cyber bullying can happen at any point in the day being technology never sleeps. It is very hard to get away from and the bullier can even remain anonymous making it hard to either punish or stop the person from their disgusting actions. One very awful thing about bullying this way is that the audience can be so vast and the message can spread so fast that its almost virtually impossible to retract whatever was said or done. Technology is not to blame for this act just like guns are not the things that kill people; people do it themselves. There are great effects of cyber bullying, some of them include depression and lack of self esteem, skipping school and increased in person bullying, poor grades, drug use and even more serious health problems.

Leads To In-Person Social Problems

  • Social media has been a growing topic of concern not only how we are affected personally but how we are reacting to this evolving technology. While a number of us are consumed with our phones and constantly posting new information, a lot of us are missing out on the best moments of our lives, whether we are having a date with a significant other or perhaps enjoying a sunset, those are the moments that we can not always get back. Social media can make someone feel ignored because one would rather tweet versus actually put the phone down and have a conversation. As an example from the reading Social Media and Experiential Ambivalence, a participant commented on an experience that they had at a friend's wedding and she/he stated that right before that couple was declared as husband and wife, they immediately changed the relationship status from in a relationship to married. From my understanding and according to the participant, the newly married couple appeared to be very dis-tasteful and unengaged with their guests and, considering how a wedding is suppose to be intimate and very special to not only the couple but to the guests as well, that moment was ruined for them. To conclude, we can further understand how several of us depend on social media and how it can be a burden to many and how social media can affect a number of people without even knowing the damage that can/has been done.
  • Looking deeper into social media and what it has become we must also understand who we have become due to the rise of this new age. We tend to use social media for the things that we are uncomfortable doing or what may seem easier online because by doing that we are able to shy away from how we really feel; therefore, we believe that we are preventing awkward moments from transpiring and we do not have to properly communicate our feelings. When something seems difficult or perhaps we are just too lazy to put the time in we turn to social media to send messages and take a load off our backs. By doing this we actually make things worse and we are not giving the other person the opportunity to express their feelings and gain growth from the situation and in turn we are doing the same thing to ourselves and we actually ruin our communication skills because we rely so heavily on a text or a Facebook message to be the voice of reason. Essentially we hide how we really feel because we are afraid or nervous to take the time to speak to someone face-face and this can ruin the other individual's perception on who we truly are. By loosing those vital communication skills we are opening a dangerous door and this means that we are missing out on some of the best moments by not being able to simply communicate effectively. If we cannot communicate how we really feel and express what we really need and/or want from someone face-face, then what good are we without those basic skills of life?

Relationship Problems

* Before social media there were a fair share of relationship problems but since the rise and rapid growth, Social Media has taken a foot hold in the field of relationships, which created a new outlet for jealousy, suspicion and low self-esteem. Social media isn't just affecting adults but children and adolescents too.

  • So with this new outlet that can cause new rifts in a relationship it is concerning when a social media format like Facebook gives out advice on relationship problems and how to fix them. https://www.facebook.com/notes/love-relationship/relationship-problems-and-how-to-solve-them/10150984534660480 No where in this article does it mention the effect using Facebook has on a relationship. Another interesting tidbit is before social media the conversation of should I/how to break up with my significant other talk would have been with a friend or mother.

References

1) Stassen, W. (2010). Your News in 140 Characters : Exploring the Role of Social Media in Journalism. Global Media Journal. Retrieved from http://reference.sabinet.co.za/sa_epublication_article/glomed_africa_v4_n1_a7

  • Explains how social media has changed the way journalism is presented
  • Talks briefly about news media being simplified for mass consumption

2) Davis, J. L. (2012). Social Media and Experiential Ambivalence. Retrieved October 02, 2014, from http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/1524879796?pq-origsite=summon

  • Social media affects on human interactions
  • How humans are reacting to the growing changes in social media.

3) Walther, Joseph B. “Interpersonal effects in computer-mediated interaction a relational perspective.” Communication research 19.1 (1992): 52-90.

  • Information about computer mediated communication

4) US Department of Health and Human Services. (N.D.). What is Cyber Bullying.Retrieved from http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html

  • Explains what cyber bullying actually is and the difference from what bullying used to be
  • States the facts about the frequency that it occurs and the effects of it

5) Van Bastelaer, S. (2014). 5 Social Media Sins That Will Ruin Your Relationship. Her Campus. Retrieved from http://www.hercampus.com/love/relationships/5-social-media-sins-will-ruin-your-relationship

  • Explains the effects of social media on a relationship going bad.
  • States the top five mistakes to avoid when in a relationship with someone and on social media.

6) Lickerman, A. (2010, June 8). The Effect Of Technology On Relationships. Retrieved November 04, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201006/the-effect-technology-relationships

  • Our communication skills depend on social media rather than in person communication
  • Isolation amongst social media

Glossary

  • Twitter: Twitter is a social media site that allows users to create their own profile and share anything they want to within a 140 character limit. You can also “retweet” things that other people have said, and you can then discuss them in greater depth yourself. Twitter allows you to post picture, videos, and links to other sites as well. Unlike Facebook, there is a larger sense of anonymity to Twitter. Even though you can create a profile as yourself, most people decide to create a persona on twitter.
  • Facebook: Facebook is another site that allows people to create their own page. You can “like” things that you do in real life and it reflects what kinds of interests you have. Facebook allows you to connect with friends and family, as well as people you may not know (friend of a friend). Facebook, just like Twitter, allows you to post links, pictures, and videos, but Facebook goes even further with the connections you make. Contrary to Twitter, Facebook has no limit on characters, allowing anyone to post a long story without having to break it up into sections.
  • Tumblr: Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website founded by David Karp and owned by Yahoo! Inc. The service allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog

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