Social Media Apps: Positive and Negative Effects

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19th Mar 2019 Technology Reference this

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Ditch the Social Media Apps

Due to the rapid growth of technology in our society, there are many advanced ways of discovering new people, interacting with old friends, and reaching out to family. There are numerous outlets of social networking, so it’s rather difficult to name all of their kind, such as: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. Social media has taken complete control of our world, notifying society of every single event that occurs at any given moment. This new revelation of social networking by connecting people of similar interests, updating anyone about current news, broadcasting, branding, advertising, and all the different possibilities that come with social media seem quite brilliant in theory. Could it be that this social media breakout is actually a negative development and people are just oblivious to the destructive aspects that have entered our society? Are there issues that actually arise in our present culture from the wonder that is social networking? Although social networking sites, like Facebook and Instagram, are able to connect people in new ways, there are significant reasons that clearly showcase social media harming users in real-world fields ranging from basic socializing to their general public profile.

The creators and founders of the different social media applications pride themselves on how they are able to easily connect people, no matter the circumstances, distance, or language. Keisha Odunze of the Daily Collegian states, “Social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are essential for catching up with friends, releasing your inner thoughts and sharing great moments that you have experienced” (Odunze). This specific writer, along with constant users of social sites, believe that they are better connected to their social lives due to these innovative applications. In reality, the social networking phenomenon is making people less social than ever before and the evidence is undeniable. One of the biggest criticism that comes with social media is the fact that it is making young people less social in terms of face-to-face interactions. Walking into a room nowadays is quite a remarkable, yet sad scene. Every single person is on their individual device minding their own business with little to no human interaction. This issue has drastically escalated as a person may seem bizarre or weird to be the first one to speak out loud. People have forgotten how to talk to one another, how to form offline relationships, and how to get off their phones for just five minutes. Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, states, “We are seeing children’s brain development damaged because they don’t engage in the activity they have engaged in for millennia” (Derbyshire). Young children are playing games alone on iPads instead of playing with other children at the park. It may not seem like a big deal, but this small action leads to a halt in child development. Palmer proposes a solution, “I’m not against technology and computers. But before they start social networking, they need to learn to make real relationships with people” (Derbyshire). The benefits of easily connecting people and keeping up with our ever-changing society is simply negated with the fact that young people are struggling with basic human interaction.

Supporters of social networking sites are completely invested in the ability to stay in touch with hundreds of friends as well as meeting new people through common interests. According to the article, Is Technology Making People Less Sociable, “A recent survey of adults in the U.S. found that 71% use Facebook at least occasionally, and 45% of Facebook users check the site several times a day.” In this new day of technology in the palm of your hands, adults would rather check their social media feeds over and over again instead of interacting with others. It really seems as if people have forgotten how to interact in real life and how to engage in a face-to-face conversation. It’s quite a sad scene when you take in consideration how relatively new smart phones and social media are, and no matter how “social” these sites are, they could never replace the comfort and legitimacy of a real-world relationship. For example, even though a person can have a lot of Facebook friends or Instagram followers, they may feel lonelier than ever. Stephen Marche, a writer well-versed in this topic states, “A connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity” (Marche). The social connection that these sites offer cannot replace or replicate any real connection, and it seems as if people simply do not know how to interact in a real world setting anymore.

An important aspect of social networking applications involves the ability for people to express passions, opinions, and feelings. These apps allow users to follow favorite sports teams and musicians, share current news with friends, and randomly post daily thoughts. Based off multiple surveys, “14% of users say that connecting around a shared hobby or interest is a major reason they use social media” (Smith). Others take to the Internet to voice strong opinions about controversial topics, as social media allows people to freely voice whatever is on their mind at any given moment. In reality, this ability to freely post literally anything to any of these social media sites so easily and permanently leads to a massive issue in terms of cyberbullying. Bullying behind a computer screen is something fairly new to most people, but the effects are already destroying many young lives. In late 2016, CBS News released an article regarding a young girl who committed suicide due to the lingering effects of cyberbullying. According to the article, Brandy Vela “had been receiving abusive text messages for months from bullies using an untraceable smartphone application” and her “family says cyberbullying pushed the 18-year-old over the edge, leading her to shoot herself in the chest” (CBS News). This unfortunate situation is just one incident of cyberbullying, as the free speech and ability to post or follow anything through social sites can lead to new forms of bullying that affect millions of young people. Cyber bullying is a relatively young issue in today’s society, but the drastic effects are increasing in quantity, and there are so many platforms that this type of bullying occurs in.

The process of learning at school and understanding new concepts can be very challenging for many students. Besides the fact that many people simply struggle in certain subjects, there are also various distractions that get in the way of their studying. Social media posts, constant apps notifications, and the easy access to browse literally anything on the Internet stack countless distractions for many people as they attempt to get work done. These meaningless distractions cause students to perform poorly in school and achieve undesirable grades. Other than the learning and studying issue that comes from social media distractions, these apps essentially obstruct young peoples’ attention spans. “Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are said to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centered” (Derbyshire). Apps like YouTube allow people to find entertaining videos in the matter of seconds, which appeal to their instant gratification. In real life, the world seems too slow and those same people must revert back to using their phones and searching for anything that will entertain them. This issue ties in with the inability to make real life connections because instead of being bored and making decent conversation with another human, they get impatient and sit alone staring at a screen.

An underrated quality that social networking sites share is the process of finding jobs or advertising for exposure of businesses. There are actually sites dedicated specifically for job hunting and branding, such as LinkedIn. The book, Help! I’m a Facebookaholic: Inside the Crazy World of Social Networking by Tanya Cooke, states, “While many companies remain nervous of social networking, regarding it as at best a distraction and at worst a vehicle for expressing employee dissatisfaction, some forward-thinking companies are actively embracing it” (Cooke 236). Supporters of finding work through social media believe this is a wonderful new tool that will revolutionize the way people find exposure, build up companies, and search for jobs. While this idea sounds like a “no-brainer”, something so minimal, like a Facebook post or an inappropriate Instagram photo can hinder your job hunt. Although you as a job-seeker just landed yourself an interview with a top company, an impropriate tweet you had a few years ago or a quick peek through your Instagram profile can immediately derail your chances of landing the job. The book also states, “Your Facebook profile or page could tip the balance in your favor or let you down big-time” (Cooke 236). A single photo, post, or like on your profile might make employers very nervous to hire you and due to your social networking activity, the ability to find a job could be very difficult.

Through the use of social media, people have the freedom to post whatever they want, whenever they want, and however they want. Nowadays, when a person feels like expressing themselves in any way they wish, they can effortlessly go online and post their thoughts. That ability may lead to problems in the future, as things that enter the Internet are never truly deleted. For example, even if someone deleted a post from two years ago, that same “deleted” post can be traced and rediscovered. In a situation where a person was extremely frustrated or emotional, they may have shared hurtful comments regarding another person, group, or thing. Even if they posted these comments in the heat of the moment, that online post can lead to future consequences, and we are exposed to this type of Internet digging almost every day now. For example, professional athletes will get traded to a new team and users on the internet can find controversial tweets regarding that player resurfacing an old issue. Most recently, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, has had countless old tweets and posts resurface allowing old problems to come into the spotlight again. Perhaps these issues would not have resurfaced if he simply stayed off Twitter. Even so, Donald Trump is not the only person in the political world taking advantage of social media in terms of releasing information and news to the public. The problem, however, arises when discussing polarizing politics, in which people only follow things on social media that solidify their own political beliefs. This issue leads to close-minded individuals strictly leaning with people or networks that cater to their specific political ideology, rather than hearing facts or the other side of an argument. Unlike the real world, social media sites allow users to think before they say something and edit their post before making it public for the world to see. Users of social networking sites should take advantage of the opportunity to think before making something permanent, especially ones that would lead to repercussions.

Although there are multiple social networking sites that are able to connect people in a variety of ways, the harmful outcomes outweigh the benefits. Nowadays, people are inadequately forming real life relationship, students are easily distracted leading them to poor study habits, and every post, good or bad, remains on the Internet permanently. Social media sites were not created to cause so many issues, as they still provide revolutionary ways of communicating, expressing oneself, and branding for job-related affairs. However, just like any other aspect in life, social media should come in moderation. Unfortunately, with the constant advancement in technology, it seems very difficult to keep people away from looking down at their screens. In order to tackle the social media phenomenon, people need to embrace life without their cellphones, engage in interpersonal conversations, and develop long-lasting relationship without the assistance of an app or website. People are becoming addicted to their hardware and their “Facebook Friends” instead of trying to create real life connections and relationships that will last past their news feed. I believe that people need to look up from their phones, interact with actual human beings, and live their owns lives rather than scroll through meaningless posts and photos.

Works Cited

CBS/AP. “Cyberbullying Pushed Texas Teen to Commit Suicide, Family Says.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 2 Dec. 2016

Cooke, Tanya. Help! I’m a Facebookaholic: Inside the Crazy World of Social Networking. London: John Blake Publishing Ltd, 2011. Print. 

Derbyshire, David. “Social Websites Harm Children’s Brains: Chilling Warning to Parents from Top Neuroscientist.” Daily Mail, February 23, 2009, www.dailymail.com.uk/.

Journal, Wall Street. “Is Technology Making People Less Sociable?” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 11 May 2015

Klass, Perri. “Seeing Social Media More as Portal Than as Pitfall.” New York Times, January 9, 2012, www.newyorktimes.com.

Marche, Stephen. “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” The Atlantic, May 2012,www.theatlantic.com.

Obeidallah, Dean. “Are Social Media Creating the Laziest Generation?” CNN, July 18, 2011, www.cnn.com.

Odunze, Keisha. “Social Media Keeps Us Connected.” Daily Collegian. N.P., 26 Mar. 2013. Web.

Partridge, Kenneth. “Social Networking – Reference Shelf.” The H.W. Wilson Company. N.p., Feb. 2011. Web.

Smith, Aaron. “Why Americans Use Social Media.” Pew Internet & American Life Project, November 15, 2011, www.pewinternet.org.

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