For our final blog entry, I would like to share some random thoughts I had about social media. I will briefly run through the pros and elaborate more on the cons which I feel are more interesting/controversial. Do feel free to disagree!
- Easier to make friends
Making friends is essentially a result of making contact with people. The beauty of social media is that it allows us to broadcast our likes and dislikes and find others with preferences that agree with ours.
Because we are making contact with exponentially more people than before, most people also make more friends than before.
- Easier to stay in contact with friends
Social media allows us to update all our friends simultaneously and the process is easier than before (phone calls/messages vs typing a status)
It eliminates the “who should I tell first” conundrum and most importantly, creates a environment where it is the convention, not the exception, to broadcast updates.
- Easier to share thoughts and happenings with friends
In the past, if you found a interesting joke or comic, the best you could do was tell everyone you met about it and hope they remember it by the time they are able to search for it.
With social media, you can create a persistent link to what you want to share and allow all your friends to access it with a single click whenever they want.
- And many more!
- Everyone is connected together but far apart
While more people are connected to more people through social media. The truth is most of these people are separated by huge distances and represented by static text to other people.
This physical and emotional distance can be harmful to relationships.
Psychological studies have shown that the less humans see and/or the further they are from the consequences of their actions, the less morality plays a part in their choices. The sad truth: many more people become jerks when they dont see or think they will ever meet the people they are dealing with.
Mutual respect and consideration are vital to healthy social interactions. By reducing the motivation for both, social media might be making us more antisocial instead.
- Inflated self esteem and confidence from trolling
For those unfamiliar with the term ‘trolling’, it refers to a broad variety of negative behavior ranging from making nonsensical comments to insulting other people for sport.
The physical and emotional distance and sometimes anonymity of the Internet reduces the detrimental consequences of negative behavior. As a result, it has led to a rise to people who ‘troll’ others to appear cool and feel good.
In essence, they try to make others feel lousy to not feel lousy. This virtual and inflated self esteem and confidence rarely carries forward into the troll’s real world interactions, causing them to develop an increasingly stronger preference for virtual interactions instead.
As a result, a vicious cycle is created since behaving poorly online encourages even more poor behavior online. In this case, social media have indirectly caused character degrading.
- Privacy and the lack of it
Public used to refer to the perspective of everyone. With the ease of sharing information on social media, the definition of public is slowly changing to ‘seen by someone who uploads video’
Social media has empowered normal people through civilian journalism, but that power can be destructive instead of protective as well.
- Herd mentality
Since it has become easier to speak out, easier to be heard and easier for information to travel, communication has become much more convenient. Essentially, our human ‘herd’ has gotten much bigger.
On the flip side, communication is not always beneficial. On rare occasions, effective communication can lead to great harm.
Given 2 groups in conflict, effective communication will generally provide greater advantage to the majority than the minority. The scales tip even more towards the majority’s favor when communication is easier and more reliable.
Consider this: Hitler managed to achieve dictatorship and stirred his soldiers into waging World War 2 and carrying the Holocaust with merely propaganda through the radio. Imagine what a demagogue like him with social media.
Already we can see how cyber bullying is becoming a severe problem for our young. How many tragic suicide stories resulting from cyber bullying have we heard already? If we are not careful, all these tragedies will merely be a prelude of atrocities that may come.
Interaction on social media, like almost all things, comes with pros and cons. I believe that the choice is ours, so are the consequences. The onus is on us to make sure the pros far outweigh the cons.