Morning. Soft light is poking through my window. Before my alarm has a chance to shatter the fragile peace of early hours, Instagram, daily news, and Viber (European analog of Whatsapp) has already entered my day. Checking in with mom on Viber, seeing what is happening in the world, and scrolling through a creatively beautified feed of my Insta-friends- all of it did not exist a mere decade ago. Since the emergence and viral popularity spread of social media platforms, public opinion seems to be split into highly polarized camps. People love it, hate it, hate to love it, love to hate it, you get the gist. When I tried to do my little investigation to see which social media notion prevails, I did not have to dig deep.
Out of 10 options suggested by google, only 2 indicate something positive regarding social media influence. Google presents roughly 762 million results, explaining why your life and society are at risk of negative impact due to such interactions. Take Jaron Lanier’s fervent argument, for example, outlined in his book Ten Reasons For Deleting Your Social Media. Go ahead, peak at the table of contents. According to the author, these popular platforms make you into an “unhappy a**hole incapable of empathy and unable to exercise free will.” The last chapter of the book puts a cherry on top- “Social Media Hates Your Soul.” Whoa, I am going to quit that scroll through my Instagram in the morning.
But is it THAT bad? Being a relatively new phenomenon, Social Media continues to penetrate our business and private world inconspicuously and has profoundly changed the way we go about our lives. As with many revolutionary inventions of the past, resistance to adopt the innovation may cause significant friction in the masses. However, I want to present a challenge of negative perceptions “makeover” and remedy this destructive social media image.
So, what is inherently positive about social media presence?
- Search for information and news alert distribution
From peer reviews and opinions to raised awareness on global issues- we indeed rely on the ubiquitous connectivity Social Media offers. Many news outlets and organizations leverage the social channel to post items immediately and keep the public informed. Does it always go smoothly? Of course not. But in retrospect, the social platforms does more good than harm.
This point touches on a sensitive topic for me. Being born and raised in relative proximity to the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, I lived through the tragic events of 1986 and the explosion’s horrific aftermath. Although the news eventually erupted, the Soviet government exerted its power to conceal the deadly accident from public knowledge. As a result, residents of the area and neighboring countries (the cloud of radiation spread thousands of miles around the epicenter) inhaled radiation poisoned air and consumed contaminated products for months (!!!) without knowing anything about the danger. Having witnessed the Chernobyl catastrophe’s ramifications, I want to argue that such an event would never fly under the radar; it would never go unnoticed, unpublished, or unexposed in today’s world. Reacting quickly to pivots of global affairs, reaching people faster than ever before is what makes social media indispensable in the field of information management.
I tend to view the increasing connectivity as a positive development. Perhaps my opinion is once again dictated by living far away from my family. Back in 2002, communicating with loved ones and friends without the accessibility and ease of social media like Viber, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, etc. that are commonplace today, made assimilating to life in my new country much more difficult. When Skype first emerged with its video-call feature, I cannot quite express how delighted I was! Now, when social media enables interaction in real-time, I no longer feel disconnected from my folks and childhood friends. Chats, video calls, instant photo exchange, social media updates, comments make the closeness almost tangible and give me peace of mind.
Pew research indicates that social platforms users attribute deeper connections, friendships with others to social media, and overall feel optimistic about its impact on their lives.
As social channels evolve, we are going to continue experiencing their profound influence. Not all of it will be well received, accepted, or beneficial. However, I believe that social media is merely a tool. And as with any device, it’s what we choose to do with it that counts.
Agrawal, A. (2016, March 18). It’s Not All Bad: The Social Good Of Social Media. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/03/18/its-not-all-bad-the-social-good-of-social-media/
Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2019, December 31). 1. Teens and their experiences on social media. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/11/28/teens-and-their-experiences-on-social-media
The Impact of Social Media: Is it Irreplaceable? Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/impact-of-social-media/
Lanier, J. (2019). Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.amazon.com/Arguments-Deleting-Social-Media-Accounts/dp/125019668X