Recently I noticed that I do get most of my news from social media. Moreover, I get to know about what is popular now, what the new trend is and what the world, in general, is facing and is concerned about through the social media platforms. How and why have social media become such an influential part of our everyday life? And what are the outcomes of this? That is what I want to discuss today.
Social media have become a big part of people’s everyday lives. Judging from my friends and my experience with these platforms – yes, we do use them on a non-stop basis. But is there a problem with social media being so addictive and controlling if everything is so much easier with it? I think yes. First of all, we can name the reasons that do not seem that terrifying, mainly the prejudgment and making an opinion about a person based on what is said on social media about him and on his own profile. It is not a secret that the internet is full of jokes about famous and not so famous people that seem light and innocent at first. However, when you see them constantly, it is highly likely that you create a certain opinion about that person without even realizing that. Therefore, the next time you see, for example, a politician giving an important speech, you won’t be able to take it in all seriousness you need, because of all related jokes and cheesy articles you found out about this person. It is important to note that this is not only the case with celebrities. Most people also get to judge other ‘ordinary’ people based on their social media image, which, in most cases, is misleading. This does not seem like a big deal, though, does it?
Well, there are some more serious issues concerning the way social media is controlling us. For this example, I will take Instagram. You know, usually, when you go on the exploration page, they show you a lot of different pictures and videos that may interest you, as Instagram thinks. What do you usually see? As far as I know, most of the time they would show the ‘new trends’ and how society should function and live. Maybe it will be a million pictures concerning the Women’s march or the elections, or how you need to get fit and healthy. On the other side, the platform will tell you how you need to stop body shaming and how important equality is. When I see all these posts, the only thought that gets into my head is – why do I even see it? If I want to get the news about the political world, I will go to a news website. If I want to know about the women’s march – I will just google it. And why someone (or better to say so many people) are trying to force their own opinion into the mass? Recently it got clear that social media is a perfect platform for promoting some specific ideas and now the social media is just overflown with the ‘propaganda’ type of posts and no one seems to see the problem here. The main issue that concerns me is that not all people actually apply critical thinking and analyze the posts they see, they just see them, believe them, and take them into account. If one does not really think about the things that are promoted, one can easily be driven to an extreme end of an initially right idea.
Another interesting example of social media being an influential part of people’s life is modern politics. They use their own social media (like Twitter) to express their opinions and announce important decisions. After that, the news is usually spread around the Internet. This way, people do not need to switch on the TV every time they want to know the latest news, they can just go to any of their social media profiles. Although this can be a really good thing because the news is freely spread around the world, anyone can read them and make their own opinion, such freedom can lead to certain consequences. First of all, not all the news posted on the Internet, and especially on social media can be trusted. You can read more about this issue in Raffaele Di Carlo’s article. And second of all, not all people will analyze news that is posted on social media and will just believe them straight away.
I think the main reason why social media is now used as a new home for news, shops, and sharing opinions is the easiness of it. It is very easy to spread anything on social media. It will either become popular because it is an interesting post, or one can just pay for it to be promoted. Any post can be seen by people from all over the world and it is so tempting that your opinion will be heard, isn’t it? Another easy thing about social media is that one can just hide behind their profile, say and promote whatever they seem to believe in and go back to their real life, while people on the Internet will be judging the post. It is easy to be brave when no-one knows who you are.
All of these examples are still based on a good thing that social media gives us – the opportunity to share one’s interests, beliefs or just anything with the world. It is indeed a great opportunity, just use this opportunity wisely.