What Is the Impact of Social Media - Pros & Cons
It's no secret that social media has transformed our culture. The way we interact with each other is different, the way we consume information is different, and the way we think about ourselves is different.
But what are the effects of this phenomenon?
And what are its pros and cons?
What does it mean for society? And how do you use social media responsibly without sacrificing your mental health or destroying relationships?
Let's explore these questions together..
Andrew Weinreich launched the original 6 Degrees site in May 1996. The program, which was founded by Andrew Weinreich in 1996 and debuted in 1997, combined well-known functions such as profiles, buddy lists, and institution affiliations into one service.
They have transformed the way we communicate with each other; how we manage relationships, both personal and professional; how we consume information, and even how we think about each other.
Opinions are divided on this topic - what are the effects of social media? And which are the good things and bad things that come along with it?
The pros of social media
Despite its negative side-effects (more on these later), there are also some really interesting pros to social media.
Here's a look at six reasons why it has been an overall positive influence in our lives:
1. It helps unite communities
After many years of people feeling like they didn't belong anywhere or that they had no community, social media has helped many people feel a sense of belonging.
For example, if you live in a small town with an incredibly small Orthodox Jewish population and you need a minyan to say the Kaddish prayer - Facebook really is your best friend! You can quickly create a WhatsApp group chat to get together at any time for prayers or events (like the annual Simchat Torah celebration).
2. It helps make new friends
More than ever before, people are travelling abroad for longer periods of time because of work, school, or volunteer programs. For students who study abroad, it's becoming more common to not know anyone there when you arrive at your destination.
Whether you're 12 years old and moving across the country or a 25-year old moving across the world - social media is making it easier to make friends wherever you go.
3. You can share your passions with like-minded people
Social media sites allow people to connect over shared interests, no matter how niche they may be. Of course if you're spending time looking at cat videos (or whatever) all day long - chances are you're not going to meet somebody very special who shares your love of cats.
Whether it's for something practical or just for fun - there are countless communities online where you can chat about things that interest YOU.
4. It makes the world feel smaller
While this may seem counterintuitive as we have access to so much more information nowadays, being connected online has "shrunken" our planet even further.
We're much more aware of what's going on in and around the world, and it's easier to feel like we're actually a part of some bigger community (even if we don't know most of the people involved.)
5. It helps you stay in touch with friends and family
If you have older relatives who might not be using social media themselves - or you simply want to make sure they never miss your birthday - there are plenty of ways to keep them informed about your life even if they're on the other side of the country.
And let's face it: Who hasn't been moved almost to tears when somebody takes the time to remember their special day?
6. It's fun!
There's no denying the fact that social media is often used simply for entertainment purposes but how can you blame us?
There are just too many ways to connect with others online; whether you play games, watch videos, share memes or just shoot the breeze over text message.
7. Social Media Helps Educators
Social media allows for a more direct connection between students, parents, and teachers by allowing them to check in on each other and ask or respond to inquiries.
Social media also provides greater e-learning possibilities.
As remote job opportunities and online classes become more popular, teaching pupils how to work from a distance is an essential part of the curriculum, and social media can assist with this.
The cons of social media
Of course, there are also some negatives associated with social media.
Here's a look at eight reasons why it has been an overall negative influence in our lives:
1. It causes people to lose their concentration
When you're scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, time seems to go by quickly, but when you stop and think about it - how much information have you actually retained from your feed?
There are also plenty of distractions when you sit down with your laptop in the morning. Can we really get anything done online? And if we can't focus because we're overwhelmed with notifications and pop-up chat boxes, does that mean that life itself is becoming too overwhelming?
2. It's not always good for personal relationships
While social media has made it easier than ever to catch up with old friends - it has also hurt a lot of relationships.
In the past, you might have been able to spend some alone time together, maybe even go out to dinner without your significant other checking their phone every three minutes. Nowadays, one person is bound to feel left out if they're not glued to an electronic device while somebody else is.
3. It can lead to negative feelings
Even if social media doesn't cause problems in your real life, chances are it's going stir up some bad feelings from the past.
All those years ago, you may have been teased for being overweight and now that picture of yourself on Facebook looking really happy makes you wonder why you had such a rude group of people in your life.
Or maybe somebody unfriended you on Facebook and it seems like everybody is watching you carefully. These are just some of the ways being so connected can lead to negative feelings.
4. It makes you feel inadequate
You might not be able to get rid of your phone, but there are still ways that social media can cause feelings of insecurity.
Even if you're really talented at something, everybody has their "competition" on social media who seems to do the same thing you do but better.
Even if it seems like it's just teenage girls putting each other down, it can be unsettling.
5. It interferes with sleep
You might only be checking up on your social media accounts for a few minutes before bedtime - that blue light emitted by certain devices can keep you awake for hours... or even stop you from sleeping at all..!
6. It encourages us to spend more time online
The days of actually going outside after dinner are long gone. According to one study, most people say they don't go on social media until after 6 PM, but when they finally stop scrolling through their feeds, it's already 8 PM or later - right around the time most people start getting ready for bed.
Our lives have become so intertwined with social media that many people admit they'd rather skip a meal than miss an important post.
7. It encourages unhealthy habits.
Social media doesn't affect everyone in the same way, but there are some people who have developed problematic habits in reaction to the constant posts and updates they see online.
Studies have shown that women are more likely than men to read gossip sites, visit social media on a daily basis, and check up on somebody they're dating. And it's not just adults, either - kids who spend too much time on their electronic devices are also at risk for some of these behaviors.
8. Fear of Missing Out
FOMO is a common fear, especially on social media where users constantly share images about the fun times they're having.
It's true that there are plenty of depressing posts, but it seems like most involve somebody smiling against a lovely background with their family and friends.
As a result, many people start to feel left out and get sad when they see all of these great moments from other people's lives.
9. Self-image issues
It's no secret that a lot of people use social media to take flattering pictures of themselves, but what happens when you see everybody else looking so good?
If you're not careful it can really start to mess with your self-esteem...
Losing our self-esteem is only one of the self-image problems social media can cause. We've all seen those videos where people try to take a selfie with wild animals and, even though we know they're fake, it's still somewhat disturbing to watch.
10. Peer pressure
There are some studies that show teens who spend less time on social media and more time in the real world have better grades and fewer peer problems.
Maybe spending less time on the socials isn't such a bad thing after all?
Social media has had both positive and negative effects on our lives over the last few years, but despite some studies indicating that it may be hurting us rather than helping - there still seems to be no easy way around it.
If you really want some time away from the internet, make sure you don't use your phone as an alarm clock or order lunch online just because it's easy.
In the end, it's nice to be able to stay in touch with people from all over the globe, but if you're going to use social media, make sure that you're not the one who gets hurt by all those connections .