Social media sites have taken over our lives. It’s hard to even imagine that 10 years ago there was no Facebook or Twitter! 15 years ago people were actually waiting to hear from each other because even email wasn’t that common.
How did social media actually influenced our life and the society in general? In my opinion (and I am an early adopter) it has had a positive impact. I am all for the widening of the world we live in, and easy communication around the world.
Social media has definitely made us closer to other parts of the world – as someone who used to do the worldwide business from Ukraine, I am the one who can totally appreciate it!
It doesn’t mean I don’t see the back side of the coin. I do know the cons along with the pros…
First, we have the obvious: communication. We are living in a time where the world is open to us. We can contact anyone around the world, at any time, with just a few keystrokes. It is free, unlike calling across the ocean, and live. We can also share elements of our life, from what we enjoy to photos of ourselves and those in our lives. It is like being a part of that person’s world, even though distance keeps you apart.
We also have the communication between people and businesses. Since they have paved a new way for interaction between the two, customers can now tell brands exactly what they want. Businesses can then use that information to tailor their products of more appeal. They used to have to spend a ton of cash for this kind of marketing data. Customers used to have to spend hours on phones getting more and more frustrated when they had a problem or complaint.
There are also causes and information. Social media has made it possible for like minded individuals to discuss important topics, widen their personal knowledge and discover things they never knew before. For example, young people around the world are now more involved than ever in their country’s politics. The last presidential elections in the US are proof of that. Social media has contributed to that increase in a big way.
Non-profits are seeing the benefits of using social media for their awareness campaigns. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others are a cost effective means of spreading the word and getting support. Not to mention socially shared petitions from sites like Causes.org, reaching hundreds of thousands of people.
There is no doubt that there are many reasons to love social media.
But not all consequences of this technology are good ones. Like the way it has allowed us to hide behind screens and limited our social interaction face to face. You get the feeling of being social without having to go out and socialize. In the same vein, it gives you the feeling of being a friend (or having friends) without having to put in any actual work to build the relationship. Just think of how many people you have on your Facebook friends list. How many of them do you see on a semi-regular basis? At all?
Then we have the issue of how it has taken over our lives. I hate being out in public and seeing people on their phones. Seeing them talking never bothered me as long as they weren’t being obnoxious. Nor does sending off a quick text bug me; maybe they are meeting someone and telling them where they are, or something. It is the obvious Facebooking or tweeting or whatever else that keeps people’s eyes glued to their phones.
I never check social media sites when I am out doing something. Whether it is grocery shopping, getting dinner with friends or waiting in line, it is just so impolite. It also shows a serious problem with distraction in today’s society. We can’t enjoy the world around us for an hour without retreating back into that safe little digital box.
Productivity is pretty much shot thanks to social media, as well. Admit it, you check your profiles during work, or find yourself wandering over to YouTube or your favorite blog during work hours. Here is a fun little game: every time you get distracted by a social media site, make a little strike on a piece of paper. At the end of the day, count all the strikes and feel your heart drop into your stomach as you try to estimate how much time wasted it represents.
Some of what social media has done isn’t just ‘bad’, it is flat out ‘ugly’. Like the number of relationships that have been broken up over social networks. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that Facebook is to blame for this. It is just a tool that has seemed to make it easier to cheat, or to do things that cross a boundary in your relationship. Like flirty PM’s with that high school sweetheart you haven’t seen since graduation. Or much more blatant infidelities that are sure to be caught the first time you forget to log out of the computer you share with your spouse.
Then there are the sheer number of stupid, vain people on Facebook. Yeah, it seems a little mean to point out. But I bet you are thinking of at least one person who would fit into one (or both) of these categories.
Each status message is a flat-out attention whoring sob fest, usually vague. Or way TMI about their struggling relationship with someone they should have dumped six months ago. Let’s not forget the badly spelled, grammatical nightmares that you would need a magic decoder ring that translated moron into English to read. If you want proof that this kind of thing is spreading, as is the self-centered douchebaggery that most of us try to keep out of our lives, check out Lamebook sometime.
I think that the effects of social media have been somewhat balanced, to be honest. There are many good things about it, and many bad things. In the end, if you can keep your own life centered in reality and use social networking as a small part of it, you should be just fine.
For those who can’t, it might be time to turn off the computer for a bit and go for a walk.
Image Credits: 1, 2, 3.
Social media sites have taken over our lives. We cannot imagine that 10 years ago there was no Twitter or Facebook. 15 years ago people were actually waiting to hear from each other by sending letters. Even sending an email was not that common. Social media has not just been a platform for simple online marketing but it has become the revolution of our century. Whether you like it or not, social media can no longer be ignored. But are social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube a good thing or a bad thing?
Social media gives us the opportunity to communicate with our friends and family. You can stay in touch wherever you are at. Friends who you haven??t seen since school, and who have moved away, will be able to know about your latest happenings just as quickly as your neighbours. We can contact anyone around the world, at any time, with just a few keystrokes. Unlike calling your family across the ocean, social media is free. Skyping with your grandmother in America doesn??t cost a thing, however calling her can cost up to 1,78 euro??s per minute. We can share the best elements of our life, through posting photos of ourselves and our friends. Social media makes us more interwoven in each other’s lives, we feel closer to relatives and friends overseas, even though we are still kept apart by a long, long distance.
Businesses have noticed the value of social networks in our lives, and they are using different techniques to promote their products. Many companies use social media for their awareness campaigns. They can use it to spread their ideas, knowledge and information about their products. Right now Facebook is the world’s biggest social network. It is therefore very interesting as a company to interact with Facebook-users via a Facebook page. YouTube is also very popular when it comes to advertising. How often has it happened to you that you wanted to watch a video on YouTube but you first had to watch a 2 minute commercial? It is practically impossible to go online and not see any advertisements. Without even noticing it we come across tons of advertisements every day. And through these advertisements we can find out everything about the latest products such as new books and CD??s, games and mobile phones. Nevertheless we can also found out which companies are looking for people to hire. If you click on an advertisement on a social media website it will send you to the official website where you can find a vacancy for a job. So it is also a simple way to be engaged.
Social media is a big source of information. Nowadays we can find everything, literally everything, on the internet and social media. This is because people want to share their knowledge and findings via social media. For example on Wikipedia, everything you need to know can be found on this international social media website. For students this is very convenient. They can use the information on the internet for their own schoolwork, or just for inspiration. For enterprises this source of information is also quite useful. They can gain more knowledge on how to improve their business, and compare themselves with other companies. In this way there will always be competition between companies and they will keep growing if they manage to keep improving their products.
Unfortunately, not all consequences of this technology are good ones. For example the way it allows us to hide ourselves behind a screen and limit or even avoid social interaction face to face. Because of social media we don’t have to put any work in building an actual relationship. The only thing we have to do is click on a button and you can be friends with anybody. Just think of the people on your friend list on Facebook. How many of them do you actually speak to on a regular basis?
To have considered some advantages and disadvantages of social media, I think it is a good thing for society. There are many good things about social media such as the way it allows us to communicate with everyone around the world, the way it can be used for marketing and also all the information we can find on it is a great advantage. However there are also some bad things about it such as the fact that it limits our level of human interaction. For the business world social media is definitely a good thing, but whether it is a good or bad thing for yourself, that depends completely on your own behaviour. If you can keep your real life separated from your internet life and use social networking as a small part of it everything will just be fine.