The Power and Pitfalls of Social Media

I have personally experienced the power of social media. Facebook has allowed me to maintain friendship with people in Ireland, England, and New Zealand. While studying abroad with limited internet and technology access I was able to share my experience with my family and friends through pictures, Skype, and messaging. Twitter allowed me to follow the events of the marathon bombing.  I have been able to attend Celtics games, concerts, and musical shows due to organization and advertising done through Facebook.  Even though I am one who is constantly behind on the social media trends, it is hard for me to imagine my life without technology and social media in my life. It is ingrained in almost every aspect of our lives.

I recognize, appreciate, and utilize the advantages of social media and the growth of technology and even believe that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of social media.  I argue that it is important for us to be aware of the downfalls and negative impacts of social media so that we can utilize it in the most powerful and productive way. As Professor Kane talked about in class today, “Social media is a competency that can be learned and taught. It is about the wisdom of the crowd.”  It made me question my idea that it is the tool of social media that is causing societal impacts, but now am convinced that what is more important to consider is how we as people use these tools. I decided to take this blog post to bring attention to some of the negative consequences of social media. Here are some consequences that I brainstormed:

  1. Unrealistic Expectations-Because we can choose what is and is not on our public profile we have skewed perceptions of our friends’ lives.
  2. Health Implications-Because we are spending hours on the internet we are not exercising. How will our eyes be affected by constantly looking at a screen?
  3. Cyber Bullying-If we aren’t competent in social media it can be used to hurt us
  4. Inaccurate Information-We saw this with Reditt!
  5. Loss of Face to Face Communication-self-explanatory
  6. Privacy Issues-Where do we draw the line?
  7. Question of Authenticity-Due to the speed of the internet, how can we identify original ideas?
  8. Inability of legal system to keep up with growth of social media

Some who see these negative impacts rebel against the mainstream ways and reject social media completely. Here is a link to a story of someone who quit using social media. She claims that the following are three reasons to quit social media:

  • It hurts your self-esteem
  • “Your blood pressure will thank you”
  • Online is no substitute for Offline

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureenhenderson/2012/12/29/3-reasons-you-should-quit-social-media-in-2013/

To me, it seems like many of these pitfalls and consequences can be avoided if we as users are educated on how to use social media correctly. We need to learn when we can trust information, what is appropriate to share, and how to filter the information that we see. It seems like younger users are more susceptible to these dangers. As a college student, my use of social media has transformed and developed over the last four years.  We need to use our collective knowledge and awareness to “check” each other and unsure that accurate information is out there. In researching for this blog I have found that we are already starting to do this. There are blog posts that provide tips and tricks to better use social media. Here are some that I found:

·        Remember that people post their greatest hits, not their blooper reel.
·        Limit online time
·        Set up the right profile
·        Find the right filters and right tools
·        Invest time to build your presence and engagement

We can continue to keep each other accountable and warn each other of the dangers of social media. Here is a link to see tips that allow you effectively use social media in the business world:

http://chiefexecutive.net/10-steps-to-succeed-in-effective-use-of-social-media

Be mindful, attentive, and aware when using social media. Social media only is what we are. What are other pitfalls of social media that you think we as users should be aware of?

Sources:

http://www.nourishing-the-soul.com/2013/04/media-literacy-three-tips-to-preserving-your-self-esteem-on-social-media/

http://blog.wcgworld.com/2013/01/using-social-media-effectively

http://chiefexecutive.net/10-steps-to-succeed-in-effective-use-of-social-media

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10 thoughts on “The Power and Pitfalls of Social Media

  1. This is an interesting blog post, and something that everyone should keep in mind. I like that you format this blog post differently, and you construct it in a way to brainstorm pros and cons, and provide a ‘how to’ to avoid the negative consequences from social media. I liked the informal format because it allowed you to connect better with your readers. I recently read an article that went along with the points about unrealistic expectations and health consequences because social media can affect our psychological well-being and make us unhappier when we see all of our friends’ activity, and it can make us feel isolated. I also think for college students, social media is a huge source of procrastination and it can affect how well people are able to concentrate and get their tasks accomplished. Overall good post and good use of pictures and links.

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  3. I really liked the imagery and layout you used in this blog. I think what you wrote about is something that is becoming more and more popular each day: How do we control social media? As you mentioned, social media allows a whole new form of connection that was not previously possible, but as we have become more accustomed to social media I think we have started to abuse this connection. Like you mentioned, cyber bullying and loss of face to face contact have come to the forefront of social media use. Like you, I am optimistic that as a society we can learn how to reduce the negative edge of the double-edged sword that is social media. Your suggestions present a good guideline as to how people can start improving the way they use social media, and how we can optimize its benefits and reduce its negative consequences. I do not see what you wrote about disappearing anytime soon; I see the debate over social media continuing and whether it will be positive or negative I do not know. Nice post!

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  5. Recently, especially this past year, I have found myself almost too involved in Social Media. I don’t know if this stems from the college lifestyle, but, after a long weekend of fun, I find myself on lazy Sundays glued to my phone. Especially on Sundays, I feel that I am glued to my phone sometimes constantly checking for updates on different social media sites to recap the weekend. This may come from a certain nostalgic side of my since, as a senior, I have very few weekends left. However, I don’t think it just me. For the most part, the 6 to 9 other people in my room on Sundays watching movies are all glued to their phone, and we are not conversing with each other. The most that is said is, “Did you guys see the pictures so and so put up?”, “No, I’m not friends with him or her, let me see.” Hopefully this will change once we graduate and have real lives to live.

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  7. I completely agree that social media has the power to be good or bad depending on how we use it. I think a lot of people forget, especially young people, that the image people present of themselves on social media is primarily only the highlights. As a result, it causes insecurities about whether you’re having enough fun or if you have enough friends. Before social media we only had a vague idea of our popularity but now it can be measured in numbers: number of friends on facebook, number of followers on twitter, number of likes on instagram,etc. It’s important to remember that social media doesn’t define us and it’s merely a tool to connect with the people and groups that we actually care about.

  8. This was a great post and I enjoyed how you built off of class material and related your own personal experiences. Social media, as you have outlined, definitely has its advantages. However, I agree that I often find myself overusing social media, contributing to a feeling a laziness and sometimes comparing myself to others. I think this is certainly something we all experience as college students and sometimes wish we could ignore. Interestingly, my brother deleted his Facebook account for Lent and I have had other friends do this as well. Although social media can certainly be used for beneficial purposes, I think we all need to be aware of when to limit our online activity.

  9. This was a really interesting post. I think that most of us ignore any possible negative parts of social media since it is such a central part of our lives and we have sort of grown up with it. It is important to recognize that there are flaws in social media that we have to be aware of. I agree with you that most of the ones we listed can be avoided or minimized if we are aware of them and control our use of social media. I think the most important pitfall is that social media is cutting into face to face communication. It seems so much easier to get in touch with someone through social media, but I think there could be serious problems if face to face communication fades away.

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