Social Media: Naughty or Nice?

In today’s world, you learn about many events, news, and daily happenings on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This begs the question; have we changed the way we interact with other humans? The answer is an astounding yes! We believe today’s technology has made a positive change in the way we give and receive information, the amount and strength of the relationships we have and build, and the amount of support we give and receive. Although you may have heard that social media has caused negative changes, it is actually more positive than you think.

Before the World Wide Web, you typically found out or were told about events and news face to face with another person, over the telephone, or through the television. Nowadays, with the increasingly popular online platforms mostly everything you find out is either online or you may even get a text from someone. The article “Grief in the Age of Facebook” by Elizabeth Stone, a professor of English, communication, and media studies, is about the passing of a young bright student and how the news of her passing was shared on Facebook. Before the age of Facebook this is the type of news you would have shared or heard directly from someone else, whether it be face to face, or a phone call. But, now with the use of Facebook, people who aren’t necessarily immediate family or close friends can find out about her passing and share with everyother their condolences and memories.

Today we have the opportunity to create many relationships that we might not have been able to make before, we also have a way to maintain and strengthen close relationships. The nonprofit child advocacy group Common Sense Media tells us that most teens today say social media helps with their friendships, 88% use it to keep in touch with friends they don’t see regularly, 69% use it to get to know students at their school better, and 57% connect with people who share common interests. Adults use it for many of the same reasons; like getting to know co-workers.   “One in ten Americans have used an online dating site” according to Pew Research, and if you are going to an online dating site, you are technically using a social media platform to build a relationship.

Being a part of one of these platforms gives you the chance to give and receive support. The support may be for your child’s fundraiser, giving and receiving advice, or a local nonprofit. Pew Research states, “Internet users get more support from their social ties and Facebook users get the most support.” When you share about a problem, whether it is personal, such as your kid acting up in public, or needing funds, you have more people who are going to see this. As a result, many of the people who see it may comment with advice or help spread awareness on the issue.

Some may say instead of receiving support, they are being bullied. While it is entirely true that cyberbullying is present, it is also true that relationships are flourishing and people are giving and receiving support. The internet has widely become a place of cyberbullying because it gives the bully not only a screen to hide behind, but it also gives them constant contact with its victim. Most platforms have created ways to help eliminate these cyberbullies, also known as Internet Trolls, with the use of a system to block/report bullies. Therefore, social media may be the place cyberbullying is happening, but it is not the reason cyberbullying is happening. There is a way to spread support to those being directly affected, and it also can send a message to those cyberbullies and internet trolls.

We believe the overall influence of social media has positively changed how we interact with others. We can share news and information in a fast and effective way, build more relationships, and give/receive support to those in need. Change may be hard to accept and confusing at first but if used responsibly this technology will continue to change the world for the better.