Social media has taken over the world by storm. These media channels have outdone print, radio and television media quite a while ago. By social media we mean a platform where any individual or group can share content to a wider audience. YouTube videos, blogs and articles, Wikipedia pages, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all means to get content out there to the masses. All these channels of media are a part of our daily life now and have undeniably had an impact on human behavior in particular and our society in general.
As with any new change, there are both pros and cons of how social media has impacted human behavior and society. As a Social Media Management Company in Kolkata we want to highlight both these aspects. To start off let us focus on the positive effects social media has had.
- It has literally brought the world to your computer/mobile screen. Gone are the days of limited content. We are now swimming in an ocean of ideas, thoughts, proposals and innovation. From thought provoking e-books on spirituality to Pinterest pins on ‘how to decorate your home on a budget’, we have access to such varied information on every topic imaginable. This is a definite boost to the self image and self confidence of many people across the world.
- There are now several ways to hear extraordinary ideas of normal everyday people living halfway across the world. One no longer has to be famous to be heard. Novelty factor and great presentation can catapult anybody into a place where they have hundreds and thousands of followers. Social media influencers can come from the humblest of backgrounds. In this world talent and hard work are reigning supreme
- There is the space and platform in the world of social media to give voice to minorities, oppressed classes and those in real need. Earlier media was controlled by a handful of people. With the advent of social media it has given freedom to many who did not get a say. Social causes, relief work, charity, interventions are all getting mobilized using social media. The #MeToo movement is an example of how the world was taken up in a frenzy of social media sharing and empathy for women who had faced some form of abuse or the other in their life.
- Social Media is not just promoting creative thinking it is uniting people for good. There is social pressure created on wrongdoers and justice is demanded from governments and authorities for what is deemed unfair by the people. The voice of the masses can be heard in unison via social media platforms and it is a tool to bring about social and ethical change
- Learning has taken on a whole new dimension thanks to social media. One no longer has to depend on traditional textbook method to cram for examinations. There are videos, presentations, e-books, articles and various other means of teaching the same subject. For example: apps like Duolingo are teaching people a new language in a fun non-traditional way
- The positive societal impact of all this has been astounding. Overall, the self-confidence and sheer ability of people to put their views out there (in whichever form) has increased. Exchanging views, becoming part of a forum, answering queries left on platforms like Quora and Google help boost morale. The world of social media makes each member of society feels that they have something or the other to contribute and that by helping someone with their special knowledge or skill-set they can feel good. Connectivity and social networking aside, social media has created a wide array of jobs and employment opportunities. For example: Social Media Management companies in Kolkata were unheard of earlier but are steadily gaining ground in the City of Joy
- Unfortunately, social media has had some negative impacts on human behavior and society as well
- Just like social media can be used for good, it also has the potential to be used for harmful and malicious purposes. Thanks to social media sources one can find information that can be used for destructive ends online. For example: The Blue Whale app that shook India was targeting teenagers and making them self-harm
- Addiction to social media has been known to impede normal lives of many people. It is an incessant high to put up posts, pictures, videos and tweets and get validation from strangers and friends alike. It often overshadows real life relationships and the human connect
- Cyber bullying and trolling are some of the very obvious negative impacts of social media. Both celebrities and normal people have been known to fall prey to these vicious attacks. A person, their representation on social media (photos/videos/tweets/website) or their opinions can come under tremendous criticism openly from other users on the same platform. Trolling occurs when a person is targeted and slandered. This can cause intense shame and embarrassment to the person facing such an onslaught. Especially because what goes onto the internet via social media platforms cannot be taken down without intervention from the platform owner (like Facebook can remove malicious content) or the users themselves
- Harassment and even blackmail has been known to be practiced via social media. Unless privacy settings are properly used, malicious users may get access to any content that one posts online and use it for threatening or extortion. The trauma that one faces from something like this can have a severe impact on mental health
- Just like watching others perform or showcase their talent on social media can be a source of entertainment, it can turn into a painful self-punishing exercise too. Not everyone who puts up content on social media becomes an influencer or garners views, likes and re-tweets by the thousands. This can be viewed as soul-crushing failure and result in anger, jealous and maladaptive behaviors
- Not everything that is available on social media should be followed blindly. Fashion trends, makeup tips, diet fads, Netflix binges may not all be for you specifically. Kids and teenagers especially have been known to trouble parents and caregivers for one product after another based on social media related peer pressure. Unless the channels of social media are used with caution and awareness they can seriously impact one’s mental and physical health
The adverse societal impact of social media is undeniable. There are millions of users of social media all over the world who can negatively influence one single individual to think or act in a way that might be detrimental to self or society.
Increasing dependence on social media is resulting in shorter attention spans, poorer memories and reduced reflexes and motor skills. We are a generation who is stuck to their computer/mobile screens.
In summary, social media is both a bane and a boon. Depending on how you use it, it can be extremely beneficial or highly detrimental. Think of it as fire: we would be lost without the positive uses of fire but it does also have the capacity to burn if not controlled. Children, teenagers and vulnerable individuals should ideally be supervised when given access to social media. Adults too should be aware of issues like social media addiction and mood impacts from social media related resources. If used wisely social media can be an immensely satisfying and informative tool.