THE DOWNSIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media platforms

photo from: empowernetwork.com

Social media, as you may know is no longer a new concept as many of us probably belong to an online community, sharing and absorbing information. These various social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, RenRen, all provide an opportunity to network with people across broad distances, at any given time. These platforms also provide an opportunity to build new relationships or simply kindle the flames of existing ones.

A host of reasons can be attributed to the use of social media; these may be the ease of information sharing, the ability to reach a wider audience, or simply the speed at which information is shared across various platforms. Whatever the case, most people focus only on the positive aspects, neglecting the disadvantages of these media. Nonetheless, it is worthy of mention that there are also downsides to the use of these social media platforms. Hence the saying “everything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage.”

Privacy concerns

This is perhaps the biggest challenge on social media. Because most people update their profiles across various platforms with real information of their names, photos, age, date of birth etc., strangers can easily get access to such vital information. This information, especially private photos, can be used to blackmail or demean the personality of such individuals.

Spam

I like to refer to spam as “Stop Sending Annoying Messages.” These messages, mostly generic, may contain viruses by hackers. These spam messages are multi-casted to various social networking accounts. A typical example of this is the Twitter account of Justin Bieber which was hacked and his tweets erased.

Social media has weakened interaction

Photo from: neatorama.com

Weakened relationships

Social networks have generally weakened face-to-face interactions. Many people now get information not from sources directly, but from social networking sites. This has greatly affected how individuals interact with one another, resulting in fake or fictitious relationships.

Distraction

We may all have experienced that awkward moment during dinner (or any social gathering), where one person breaks the communication flow because they are on their mobile devices checking a Facebook update or tweet. Social media generally distracts individuals who may become engrossed in real-time updates of posts on these platforms.

Predators

The ease of individuals to belong on any social networking site has also given rise to “predators”. These are people who use fake identities on such platforms to stalk others. Because these individuals have the accessibility to other people’s personal information, and interests, they can easily build false connections. This may pose a great threat especially to vulnerable individuals who build offline connections from such social media sites.

Validity of information

Social media has created an avenue for everyone to become a publisher of information. Although this freedom of information sharing has given rise to conversational liberation, the validity of information shared across various platforms remains questionable. People may share information based on personal opinion, prejudice, or bias; this may be misleading and fictitious.

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7 thoughts on “THE DOWNSIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Nice post, Timi! Personally, I don’t think there will be a downside of social media (at least for Chinese people). Undoubtedly, there are some concern about the privacy or spam or the weakened relationship, etc. However it depends on how we think about it. Trace back to the beginning of the widespread of Email, we started facing the spam problem. Although we are still suffering from it, no one refuse to use email… As for the privacy, it depends on the user him/herself. If you like to post your name, address, bank account and the password, no one can stop you. Admittedly, there is a heated discussion about social media weaken the relationship between people. However think from another way, it also shorten the distance between people, and makes it easier to make new friends to some extent. Social media is a brand new tool in China and for many Chinese. We are having this bittersweet experience now…

  2. Nice insights. I agree that social media bridges the gap between people across broad distances and have provided us with opportunities to communicate a lot faster. However I still believe it has its weaknesses. I sometimes wonder how we can truly determine the character or personality of say a “Facebook friend” as against connections we build face to face. Social media makes communication a lot easier, but don’t you think we are indeed starting to depend so much on this?

  3. Although I love social media a lot coz I’m using them everyday, I still feel upset about the privacy problem. Especially when I found Instagram started to share what I liked to everyone else on Facebook. It is not like I will share or like some bad information and pictures. I just feel like exposed to the whole world. Another bad thing is people started to judge and evaluate one person before even meet with him or her. People think they can see who you are just from these social media platforms. Some HR people are even doing this. Sometimes, crazy people on social media will make you feel like just delete accounts.

    • I totally agree with your views on this. I was skeptical about Instagram from the onset and refused to join the network. When it had concerns on changing its terms of agreement late last year, I was glad I didn’t join. I don’t understand why some HR people judge individuals by their Facebook or other social networking platforms, as though unprofessional information that can be shared by friends cannot be seen on their walls. I fear the privacy issues on social media and this limits my activeness across various platforms.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this post on social media platforms. Social Media is definitely a great way to get in contact with old friends, relatives, your grandmother in Florida and other family members that you may not necessarily want seeing your page. This form of communication is extremely effective and useful for many reasons. It helps people stay in contact with other persons who may be in different countries, it allows families to communicate with sons or daughters that are stationed elsewhere for the armed services, etc..

    BUT! With along with the great strides that social media has made, as well as the many benefits it brings to users, there are many downsides as well. That is why I really enjoyed this post. Social media is a great tool, but it has taken away our generations ability to have conversations with people at a face-to-face value. There are many, many, many people that I am “friends” with on Facebook, that won’t even approach me when I see them in public. So what I like to do, is make it reaaaalll awkward for them by just walking up to them and saying hi. They usually stutter and turn red, but that’s how I was raised. If you know someone, you act polite and say hello. And although I am an avid social media user, I still love talking to people directly (face to face). I do like using social media and I totally agree with it being a super-duper effective communication-medium, but it definitely has taken away peoples courage to just walk up to a complete stranger and say hello. All because it is so much easier to click that “add friend” or “follow” button. Screw the button, get personal.

    • Luke I agree that the benefits of social media can never be overstated. From businesses connecting with their niche audiences, to individual ease of communication, social media has indeed increased real-time connectivity. On the flip side, like you rightly mentioned, it has weakened face-to-face communications and interactions. The term “Facebook friend” for instance has become a popular way of referring to people who you may have never met before, but have as your friends on Facebook. The question remains – Can you really call these people friends if you know so little about them personally? But what can I say…everything that has a positive side has also, a negative.

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