Social media is like that necessary evil that you might like or dislike, but there is no escaping it.
The entire world is on social media today. With the boom in internet, social media is almost like one of the basic factors of survival.
What started out as a means to reconnect with old friends and family living in other countries is a marketing platform, a means to gain customers and what not!
And this is just the beginning of what’s yet to come. But amidst all this hullabaloo, we come to the most important debate of this century- is social media good or bad?
This is a never-ending debate, with countless inputs and insights from every stratum of society. This exactly is what we are going to discuss in this article.
Is Social Media Bad?
With all the benefits that social media has brought to us, we still cannot ignore the negative sides of it.
In fact, if you start a discussion on the negative side of social media, you will be surprised to see how much worse it is for mankind.
Let us see what all points we have to counter, the good effects of social media.
The idea of ‘friends’ has completely changed:
Back in the time when there were no social media, things were obviously simpler. So was the concept of having friends.
If you liked someone and hung out with them regularly, if you were beside them at their good times and bad times, you were considered to be true friends.
Well, the good thing is we still have such real people around us. But we have too many people in our lives we have never met but are connected to us on social media.
The thing that worries elders is that even these people are still considered as our friends.
Today you might not have any real friends but have hundreds and thousands of followers or friends on social networking sites.
For a lot of people, that is considered pretty cool. But are they really your friends?
Will a friend from Facebook turn up for you when you are actually in trouble?
The thing with social media is that it has blurred out the line between friends and acquaintances.
It has made people self-centered and attention seeking:
One of the most important factors that make social media work is the fact that people out there like to talk about themselves or the things that they find interesting.
The ones who are introvert and do not like expressing their narcissistic self on social media, generally shy away from Facebook or Twitter. Or even if they have their accounts on these platforms, they are pretty inactive.
But the ones who are active on social media will like to show off and document every single thing that is going on in their lives, irrespective of the fact whether people find it interesting or not.
We all have such people in our friend lists who update every single detail about their life, right?
What they had for breakfast, where they went for a holiday, where they are having dinner, what movie they’re watching etc.
This somehow makes them believe that they are important and they place themselves above everyone else. This also makes them lose a sense of empathy towards others.
The ones who are most affected by the tendency of narcissism are teenagers and youngsters.
Social media has led to a lack of focus and short attention spans:
And this is not just the case with teenagers and young adults. If you notice yourself, you will notice the difference too.
Our minds now move between things in a split second. At one moment we are thinking about something specific, and before you know, you are thinking about something else.
The reason behind this is that there is so much information around us that we do not get into the depth of anything to consume it.
The main reason behind this is social networking sites, especially Twitter.
Twitter has introduced this tendency in us where we have to bring everything down to 280 characters. When we see longer texts, our mind just does not want to read them. We skip chinks of the article and read in bits and pieces.
You need a whole lot of motivation to actually go through every line when reading long paragraphs. That’s how much we have been affected since the advent of social media and the internet.
Social media is the greatest distraction, bringing down productivity:
Whether you work full time sitting at your desk or you work as a freelancer from home, you know the struggle of staying focused at work.
Especially if you are working on the laptop and need the internet for your work, you are at the place where you are surrounded by websites that force you to visit them and waste time.
Social media platforms are the biggest culprits when it comes to distraction. You are always tempted to check your newsfeed and go through your profile or upload pictures or whatever. You might even want to stalk people on social media even when you are working.
Also, there are so many games available on these social media platforms like Angry Birds etc., that you start playing them by telling yourself that this is going to be a 5-minute affair, but you end up playing them for hours.
That distracts you at work and decreases your productivity. You might think it is harmless, but can you afford to do this when you have strict deadlines to follow?
Relationships break up because of social media:
Do you have any idea about the number of relationships and marriages that have broken apart because of social media?
Social media is a great way to reconnect with old friends from school or college or even old colleagues.
You might say, that is a great thing that social media does. But there are times when you reconnect with someone that you had a crush on or with your exes on social media.
Initially, it is hard to not give in to the temptation of talking to them, discuss stories of the years you have been apart. The conversations slowly rekindle the feelings and you have this extreme desire to explore this new found bliss that you are experiencing with this person.
If you are already married or in a relationship, this would mean the death of it.
But not just these social media platforms, people now actually use the internet and few social networking sites to hook up with attractive strangers.
Do you think all the people you meet on Tinder are single? Welcome to the world of the internet!
Social media ultimately leads to loss of privacy:
One of the biggest negative effects that social media has brought on into our lives is the loss of privacy.
The very basic concept of privacy is slowly going away. Most people have forgotten that life also exists offline. People share every kind of information online.
In fact, Facebook asks for a person’s birthday, his family members, his interest, his likes and dislikes while the person is creating the account.
You might not understand but you have actually given Facebook the right to invade your privacy with all this information you have filled up.
Is Social Media Good?
As we told you, social media is a necessary evil. After having discussed all the evils and negative impact of social media on mankind and on society as a whole, it is time we look ahead to the good things about it.
Social media makes you more interactive:
The most obvious benefit of social media is that it gives you a platform to talk and interact with so many people.
You can reconnect with old friends from school who you had lost touch with. This single-handedly contributed to the entire growth of social media.
But it also helps you find people within your professional network and expand your network. You never know how and where it might benefit your workspace too.
Social media helps you stay updated with whatever is going around you:
Nowadays who has the time to actually read a newspaper or even sit through the news channels?
Most of us do not even have the time to go through the different news apps or the e-papers either.
But are we behind when it comes to staying updated with world news? No, right?
That is because we get our daily news from the social media platforms itself.
When you are scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter news feed, you will find everything presented to you on your newsfeed itself.
The reason behind this is since social media marketing has become such an important tool for the growth of any organization that every news channel now has a social media presence.
If you follow these news pages, you are bound to get the daily news irrespective of whether or not you watch the news or read newspapers in the morning.
The way social media helps a business to flourish is unimaginable:
Nowadays whatever might be your business, it is very important to have a social media presence. Whether your product or services is online or offline, your brand has to have an online presence.
The days of newspaper advertising are gone. Today the best way to reach out to hundreds and thousands of potential customers is to have a strong social media presence.
You and your brand have to be present on every platform so that not only you can advertise your brand and build credibility, but you can also use these platforms to interact with your customers to understand the issues better.
From the societal point of view, you as a customer can lodge your complaint directly to the brand, without having to write letters and post them and wait for a reply for days.
How much more could you have asked for?
Social media can even help you achieve your fitness goals:
Whether or not you are a fitness freak, you do understand the importance of being fit with the kind of sedentary lifestyle that we all have.
Which is why we all have set certain fitness goals for ourselves. Be it running 10000 steps a day, or losing 5 kilos in a month, we all have these goals.
The great thing about social media and the internet is that today there are apps that will help you achieve these targets that you have set for yourself.
All you have to do is upload your diet chart and your activities of the day on this app and they will monitor your steps and how much physical activity you are going through in a day.
They also show you how much calories you have consumed and how much calories are burnt in a day. This helps you to stay focused and achieve your fitness goal within the given period of time.
It helps you immensely to navigate through traffic:
The biggest benefit of social media for drivers is that they get to know which road traffic and which roads have are to be avoided in order to reach the destination faster.
With the help of GPS, navigation is now a cakewalk and you can go around the city even if you do not know your way out. But of course, you should not be using mobile phones while driving. That is why so many drivers attach their phones to a stand in the dashboard to be able to drive safely without any hazards.
This debate about whether social media is good or bad is actually never-ending. There are countless benefits and disadvantages of social media.
You cannot live without it, but when you live with it, you have to face the adversities it brings along.
So, the best way to be able to stay connected on social media is to know your limits and draw a line between the online and offline world.