The definition of social media is any form of a website that makes it possible for people to connect and interact socially. Social media is however rapidly and significantly expanding all over the world. In the present day world, many teenagers, as well as adults, are now connecting to various social sites like Facebook, Twitter, My Space among others. They do this to stay connected with their families, friends and even people who they are connecting with for the first time in their lives. The advent of social media has gradually brought diversities around the world in various ways. It impacts every individual differently. In the current world, social media can be used as an essential tool in transforming the lives of individuals. However, it can also be a destructive tool in bringing negative influences on a person’s life. In as much as social media has brought about some negativity with it, it has brought about positivity in the communication systems all over the world, making the world an enjoyable place to live.
It is justified to argue that in today’s world, individuals are over-dependent on the use of social media for the better part of their daily activities. This means that they rely on social media sites for various pieces of information like job details, keeping up with the latest tweets and trends on Tweeter among other online social activities. A vast number of individuals and even organizations find it challenging to carry out their day to day operations without necessarily having to depend on social media to give them guidelines on their diaries and timetables. The questions remain to be; is the people’s over-dependence on social media healthy when it comes to social interaction, or can it be said that over-dependence on social sites and media platforms damages individuals’ interaction patterns in a given society?
The Impacts of Social Media
Lots of arguments have been brought forth about the use of social media with a majority of the people arguing that it brings about social isolation and in worst case scenarios loneliness. Many parents and guardians, teachers, and even friends find it difficult to keep in touch and bond just because the other parties are very much involved in social media to give them the necessary attention they need. You come to a setting whereby you find members of a family not engaging in family talks anymore like they used to because they are glued to their phones. However, Rodriguez, Annalisa an author of an article on social media argues that many individuals find it fun to mock and criticize contemporary because of their dependence and use of social media. Many individuals who lived in past older societies tend to compare the present day society to theirs and end up giving negative sentiments about the current society (Rodriguez par 4). A majority of the people want to make the past romantic and praising it for demonizing the present and further end up saying that individuals would instead blame social media and technology for the adversities in society other than finding valid solutions to real situational problems.
Rodriguez further argues that social media makes people’s social experiences more productive and more diverse by linking them up with other people in new and exciting ways. Social media enables individuals to expand their social interactions beyond their regular scope. Rodriguez adds that internet users find it appropriate to confide in someone of a different race. He adds that users who share their details on online social platforms are more likely to argue out political subjects with other individuals from different parties without confronting one another (Rodriguez par 5). People are now finding it more appropriate to trust their feelings, strengths, and fears to the ones they meet online with as strangers without necessarily having a fear of receiving judgment, mockery or even gossips.
Social media does not lead to a society that has been isolated but rather, it encourages oneness in not only in contemporary society but in the world at large according to (Anstead and O’Loughlin 213. The authors argue that people are now able to stay connected and linked to other people in various parts of the world through online social sites. Family members can communicate with their relatives who are far away through social media sites such as Google video call, Skype, and even recent advancements in Whatsapp video calls, etc. without having the extra stress of incurring costs. They further add that, through social media, the world is now linked with individuals using platforms such as Twitter as well as Facebook making the befriending process very easy (Anstead and O’Loughlin 217). This has by so far brought about cultural diversity, and many individuals can learn about many things and people directly from them through the use of social media. Social media generally has been beneficial. The authors present their arguments further by saying that in most cases, individuals find it uncomfortable and peculiar to talk to strangers they meet in a public means of transport or even in other social gatherings like in a park. It is typical for many people to enjoy walking or even driving back home without having to feel obliged to talk to people they do not know on their way (Anstead and O’Loughlin 219). Due to this reason, social media has become very helpful since it acts as a way of keeping individuals busy and thus having to go silent instead of talking to a stranger would not feel as awkward.
Rodriguez in his article affirms that the advent of social media is very helpful and essential in society since it makes unifies and connects people who have generally never met. Unlike the past years where individuals used to disappear after school and fail to see each other ever again, people in today’s world can communicate and connect with their long-time colleagues and friends (Rodriguez par 6). People are no longer unfamiliar, and everyone has a chance to keep close communication with old friends. Social media therefore according to Rodriguez, does not result in a society that has been isolated but rather it acts as a unifying factor that only brings people closer and more bonded.
Strachan Yukio, a different author, is however of the conflicting and different opinion. Emerging technologies, mobile handsets and social media are constructed to ease people’s means of communication appropriately, but in multiple ways, they drift people apart. For beginners, people can add other individuals to gain access to their sites but at the same time distancing them emotionally. Strachan argues that befriending individuals on sites like Facebook distances them emotionally (Strachan par 1). This argument is in no small extent correct because the documentation of people’s social lives on social sites still puts a barrier for them. Social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Twitter, and Facebook permits people to upload and record every single moment of their life affairs on online social pages belonging to them. They may include photos or images showing their current locations, what they are engaging in, and the company that they are with at the moment. People can also use sites like Instagram to give them an allowance to relate their photos as well as posts to another picture, post or even website (Strachan par 1). Even though these social sites give an allowance for individuals to be able to reflect on the lives of others and engage in similar things as they are, they still keep them far apart and thus, depriving them physical interaction opportunities and gatherings to participate in these activities.
Social media is drawing people away from one another by permitting them to view other people’s photos and read their posts every day. This action makes people no longer feel the need to personally interacting with one another. Strachan puts it that social media gives individuals fantasies about companionship without necessarily having friendship demands (Strachan par 2). This vice results in seclusion and eventually falling into a depression of people since they are denied social correlations and friendship warmth. Loneliness and depression can, in turn, lead to dangerous acts like suicide and insanity. People opt to use social media just because they have the urge to link with others through some barriers prevent this from happening (Bain par 2). The gatherings at coffee houses aimed at hanging out as well as catching up on daily activities have become almost impossible because of the need to work long hours, perform many more duties, and to generate more income. The extended phone calls with family, friends, and colleagues are no longer there due to the idea that posting on someone’s wall or even texting them up affectionate is what people spend most of their time doing. Another author Huff Ethan argues that social networks are more or fewer isolation tools that drift people away from meaningful, essential and active interactions with one another (Huff par 2). This, in the long run, makes them behave more like machines than human.
The most apparent disadvantage of social media sites is that they make social interactions difficult and almost impossible. They instead create virtual substitutes that only promote emotional and physical distance in a society (Anstead and O’Loughlin 220). According to author Joel Bain, social media platforms only offer a mirage of having company and that some forms of interactions people encounter cannot replace quality correlations and interactions. They get connected to social sites since they fancy staying linked with each other, but there exist lots of obstructions preventing it from happening (Bain par 2). People can be in the same room, but they would still find it appropriate to channel their attention to online social platforms instead of having meaningful and sensible conversations that enhance physical interaction with each other.
The most consequential adverse effect of social media is that it becomes addictive to individuals without them even realizing it. Too much being online is more likely to alleviate feelings such as loneliness, agitation, depression and even anger (Strachan par 1). Many individuals tend to feel sidelined when they view other people’s photos uploaded online and seeing them having fun and a good time while they are not. This brings about a sense of intimidation and inadequacy thus creating emotions of inferiority and sorrow. When individuals start experiencing such feelings, they would choose to stay by themselves rather than meeting up with the people who are having fun basing on the kinds of photos they put online for fear of mockery and intimidation. Strachan offers suggestions that social networks exhibit contradictions that link users together but on the other hand increasing their probability of becoming dormant observers as compared to the ones looking for real friendship and companionship. An increased Facebook accessibility is likely to alleviate depression cases among people.
Huff addresses other negative social media issues namely cyberbullying and cyber crimes. It has become a norm for many individuals to feel the urge to share some of their pictures on social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. In many cases, this has turned out badly and consequential. A lot of people on social media are insensitive and cruel and will tend to throw negative comments and insults on those particular uploaded photos (Huff par 2). The result is the picture owners end up feeling rejected, humiliated and start thinking that they are not good enough and may develop self-esteem issues. There are multiple cases where cyberbullying has resulted in many fatalities across the globe. Individuals who have been cyberbullied in the past have become less aggressive even in their overall interactions in society. Huff further argues that individuals should learn to switch off their computers and phones and try as much as possible to engage in one on one interaction as it makes the bonding process useful. (Huff par 3).
To conclude, it is evident that social media has numerous advantages beneficial to society as well as individuals. However, the negative impacts that come with it are detrimental and require serious attention. An isolated society is gradually forming as a result of overdependence and misuse of online social platforms. Citing examples from incidences of reduced self-esteem and overall self-image to cyber bullying to isolation and depression it is justified to conclude that the negative impacts of social media are way more than its positive effects. These negative social media elements make it legitimate to come to yet another conclusion that social media has brought about an isolated society by destroying social interactions. It is therefore essential that people become more sensitive to the issue of social media and try to create a balance that will promote social interactions other than distancing people from even coming together. People should spare the use of social media to allow them time to bond with their loved ones. If properly used, social media can benefiting the ones using it without experiencing adversities.
Anstead, Nick, and Ben O’Loughlin. “Social Media Analysis And Public Opinion: The 2010 UK General Election”. Journal Of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol 20, no. 2, 2014, pp. 204-220.
Bain, Joel. “Social Media: Driving Us to Isolation & Loneliness Through Superficial Human Connection” (2013). Published on Sour Grapes Winery. Retrieved from http://www.sourgrapeswinery.com/society/2013/11/22/social media driving us to isolation loneliness through supe.html
Huff, Ethan. “Social Networking Leads to Isolation, Not More Connections, Say Academics.” (2013). Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/031128 social networking mental health.html
Rodriguez, Annalisa. ‘Social media doesn’t mean social isolation.’ USA Today: College. 16 Oct 2012. Retrieved from http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/campuslife/social media doesn’t mean social isolation
Strachan, Yukio. “Does social media cause a more isolated society?” Published on Digital Journal (2012). Retrieved from http://digitaljournal.com/article/322982.