The effects of social media on society cut across social, political, economic and cultural spheres. Transformation in information technology has changed how people communicate and interact. Today, people use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snaptchat, Instagram, and LinkedIn to socialize and market their products. Moreover, politicians use the same platforms to sell their ideologies. Indeed, social media dominates the lives of most people. One would not be wrong to argue that it is ingrained in people’s proverbial DNA. Most people cannot spend a day without visiting social networks. Despite social media being associated with numerous positive impacts on society, the technology has several adverse effects. This article will discuss both positive and negative implications of social media on society.
Globalization has made it possible for people to travel and operate businesses internationally. Indeed, “people are living in a time where the world is open to them” (Rapp et al. 551). Individuals can communicate with friends in any part of the world without challenges. Social media has made it easy for people to share their life experiences with friends at minimal costs. For instance, one can send photos to relatives abroad enabling them to understand how he/she is fairing. Social media has made it possible for people to share in their friends’ life regardless of the distance. It has gone a long way towards helping individuals to retain and make new friends. Social media has come at a time when many people own mobile phones. Additionally, most people have access to the internet. Social media has allowed people to interact at all times as they move around with their mobile phones.
Social media has enhanced communication in the business world. Business people use social networks to market their products and get consumer feedback. Many companies use Pinterest, Instagram, and Snaptchat to relay information about their brands. The platforms enable “businesses to share appealing images and memes of their brands, thus drawing the attention of target clients” (Rapp et al. 559). It helps entrepreneurs to establish customer loyalty. Business owners use social media to gather valuable information, which enables them to tweak their products and services to suit the needs of the target market. Social media is gradually phasing out the era of television and print advertising. It has reporting tools that are vital in assisting businesses to evaluate the success of their strategies. Previously, consumers had to visit retail stores to purchase goods. Social media has changed the way society does shopping. It comprises features that allow customers to evaluate products and place their orders online. For instance, the famous shopping platform dubbed Shopify can be accessed via Pinterest, making it easy for customers to place orders.
Socialization and Politics
Social media has changed the way people interact and share ideas. It has enabled society to stay updated on the current local and international developments. Moreover, it has allowed people to partake in awareness campaigns meant to sensitize the public on issues that affect people’s life. Halpern and Gibbs maintain, “Social media enable like-minded folks to discuss critical issues, broaden their experiences, and come up with novel skills” (1161). For instance, it has enabled young people to discuss social and political challenges that affect their countries and world at large. Social media played a significant role in the last presidential elections in the United States. The presidential candidates used social media platforms to communicate with their supporters.
Moreover, the public used the platform to discuss the different candidates and make informed decisions. Today, people use social media to champion human rights and fight oppressive regimes. Social media played a critical role in the recent Arab Spring witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen. People used social media platforms to rally others in the call for regime change. Social media has impacted the culture in general. Apart from politics, it also influences sports and entertainment industry. Social networking sites like YouTube have revolutionized the entertainment industry. People can share and sell their music online. On the other hand, the public uses social media to keep celebrities and sports personalities on the check. They cannot make offhand comments without facing public wrath. One may argue that social media has reduced the size of the world and made it more intimate.
In spite of social media being attributed to numerous positive social, political, cultural, and economic impacts, it is also associated with few adverse effects. Treem and Leonardi aver, “The majority of the introverts and socially reclusive users place too much emphasis on virtual interactions, and ignore the real world” (152). The negative impacts of social media include cyberbullying, reduced productivity, social exclusion, Poor health, and lack of privacy.
Whittaker and Kowalski define cyberbullying as, “The use of cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone” (14). Social media has made it possible for people to hide behind the screens and threaten or extort others. Before the rise of social media, people hardly stalked others because they were afraid of being detected. Social networks have made it easy for individuals to stalk others without being detected. School children, women, and young girls are the primary victims of cyberbullying. In most cases, victims of cyberbullying do not report the incidences to relevant authorities. They suffer silently to the extent of some committing suicide due to depression.
Low Productivity and Poor Health
Most organizations have internet-use policies to regulate the use of social media in workplaces. Failure to monitor the internet use amid employees affects their productivity. The workers spend a lot of time on social media and neglect their duties. Research conducted in Britain found that companies lose billions of dollars due to low productivity. Employees are addicted to social media; hence they shirk their responsibilities, leading to low productivity. Excessive use of social media has resulted in people suffering from diseases like obesity and diabetes. Today, the youths, as well as, adults do not have time to engage in physical activities. They spend a lot of time indoors chatting with friends. In the process, they become obese and develop conditions like diabetes.
Social media has contributed to social exclusion. Many people prefer to interact with friends via social networks. They do not go out to meet their friends. Interaction via social network makes people develop a sense of being social without having to go out and have face-to-face contact. Treem and Leonardi allege, “Social media gives people a feeling of having friends without having to put in any actual effort to build a relationship” (159). Despite having many friends on Facebook, one does not make an effort to meet them. The majority of individuals who spend a lot of time on social networks claim that they hate being in public. On the other hand, family members do not have time for one another. They no longer eat together or have time to converse as they are busy chatting with friends on social networks.
Impacts on Privacy
People are encouraged to be responsible when sharing information on social media as it might affect them in the future. Some people make the mistake of sharing personal information on social media. Thus, they fall victims of stalking and identity theft. Today, criminals gather information about their victims from social media. Some use the information to intimidate their victims. Others use it to masquerade and commit crimes.
Social media has both positive and negative impacts on society. It has revolutionized how people communicate, making it easy for individuals to stay in contact with friends despite the distance. It also enables businesses to advertise products, gather customer feedback, and assess their strategies. Today, social media is a significant campaign tool. Politicians use social media to sell their agendas to the public. It also enables political activists to keep a regime in check and rally masses behind a common goal. Social networks subject children, young girls, and women to cyberbullying. Moreover, it affects employees’ productivity in workplaces as they spend a lot of time on the internet. Individuals who spend the most time on social media are at a risk of suffering from diabetes and obesity. Moreover, sharing personal information on social networks makes one susceptible to identity theft.
Halpern, Daniel, and Jennifer Gibbs. “Deliberation? Exploring the Affordances of Facebook and YouTube for Political Expression.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 29 no. 3, 2013, pp. 1159-1168.
Rapp, Adam, et al. “Understanding Social Media Effects Across Seller, Retailer, and Consumer Interactions.” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 41, no. 5, 2013, pp. 547-566.
Treem, Jeffrey, and Paul Leonardi. “Social Media Use in Organizations: Exploring the Affordances of Visibility, Editability, Persistence, and Association.” Annals of the International Communication Association, vol. 36, no. 1, 2013, pp. 143-189.
Whittaker, Elizabeth, and Robin Kowalski. “Cyberbullying via Social Media.” Journal of School Violence, vol. 14, no. 1, 2015, pp. 11-29.