Nowadays, social media is so popular among the young, children, and adults. Each of us uses social media to be updated, to entertain ourselves, to communicate with others, to explore new things, and to connect with the world. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, etc. are examples of social media. Social media is a part of our lives today, and consciously or unconsciously, it is becoming our habit to continuously go through it and check the notifications.
What is social media?
Social media is a platform where we can communicate with a large number of people, make connections, and interact with them. It operates on the internet.A user usually creates an account on such a platform and allows interaction with the millions of other users available on it according to their preferences and choices. Apart from the interaction, it also allows users to share information, chat with other people, share their opinions, create content, and embrace their differences.
In today’s world, social media is an important part of young people’s lives, determining and shaping their perspectives.The youth typically adopt and pursue social media trends; for example, in dressing styles, the youth adopt dresses and styles that are promoted as trends by social media.
Social media not only allows people to share their opinions, but it also shapes the opinions of its users.Social media have an impact on their users as well as society as a whole, both positive and negative.
Here we will now discuss the negative and positive impacts of social media on society.
Positive impact of social media on society
- Builds connectivity and connection: Social media facilitates better communication as well as the development of stronger connections and connectivity around the world. One can talk to a person who lives thousands of miles away from him or her. One can also make connections in his or her respective field or area to promote his or her venture, business, or idea. LinkedIn is an example of social media where you can build connections from across the world and increase your connectivity. Hence, social media is not only connecting people within a society but also connecting people from different societies and cultures, allowing them to exchange their values and beliefs.
- People are empowered by social media because it educates them, makes them aware of them, and gives them a platform to raise their voices, showcase their talents, and promote their businesses. For instance, people on Instagram not only communicate with each other but are also establishing their small businesses and creating content on various things such as dressing style, make-up, fashion hacks, and educational content. Likewise, on YouTube, people do the same thing except chat and earn money through their talent, opinions, and content. Therefore, social media helps generate employment in society and educate its members.
- People are helped both economically and emotionally by social media: Economically, by providing customers to businesses and providing jobs to the unemployed. Emotionally, by demonstrating empathy and love to the people.The person who feels alone should communicate with people online and talk to them. Sometimes, when you post something on your social media account—a sad or happy post—people react accordingly. If you post something sad, people try to cheer you up or console you, and vice versa. Social media in society provides an equal opportunity to be social and interact, especially for those who find it difficult to communicate with others in person.
- Knowledge: on social media, people post massive amounts of content on a wide range of issues and topics. YouTube is a platform where you can find information in English, Hindi, or any other language you are comfortable with. From the fundamentals to the advanced, from simple to complex topics, one can learn for free on social media. There are many teachers, motivators, and religious gurus who provide knowledge in various fields and aspects.
- Provides new skills: Through social media, you can acquire and learn new skills. You can, for example, learn to knit on YouTube or do it yourself (DIY) on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. You can acquire as many skills as you want: cooking, knitting, floral design, rangoli making, python, ethical hacking, etc. Moreover, learning new skills helps one find work and empowers oneself.
- Source to news: social media is a source of news nowadays; people watch news more on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook as compared to news channels and newspapers. People believe that news on social media is more trustworthy and presented in a more interesting format than traditional news channels.
- Sharing of ideas: social media allows the sharing of ideas beyond boundaries, nations, and states. Social media facilitates the exchange of ideas about one’s culture, religion, state, nationality, and environment.
- Raising funds: social media helps many people raise funds for noble causes. Through the help of social media, people start campaigns for donations for a particular case, and everyone can participate in these donations. For Example, Fundraising for blind orphan children
- Creates communities: Social media creates communities of people from various backgrounds who share common interests. People with the same interests connect more with each other. Examples include the science community, the arts community, and the poets’ community. The nature of a community depends on the interests of its members.
- Multiple sources of learning: social media is a hub of knowledge where you can learn anything and everything. The education is provided at no cost. There is not only educational or academic learning, but also other types of learning; you can learn how to improve your personality, improve your communication skills, be more confident, and develop your public speaking skills.
Negative impacts of social media on society
- Contributes to the digital divide: The “digital divide” refers to the gap between those who can access the internet and those who cannot because of illiteracy, poverty, and a lack of resources. Social media is contributing to this by setting trends and engaging more youth, and youth who cannot access or understand the trends, as well as adults, are falling behind.
- Increasing cybercrimes and cyberfrauds: An increase in the use of social media is leading to an increase in cybercrimes and frauds. Cyberbullying, harassment, and stalking are on the rise nowadays, and mostly teenage women are becoming victims of them. Cyber fraud is also on the rise because most people lack digital literacy and are unaware of things like when fraudsters create an account to impersonate someone you know and demand money from you for various reasons.The nature of the frauds varied and could cause confusion and restlessness in your minds.
- Negative information, news, and rumours spread quickly: As the elders say, negativity spreads faster than positivity; similarly, false news or negative news, rumours, and information spread quickly and cause chaos and instability in the social order.Because of the rapid transfer of information, false news or information spreads in no time, which furthers the happenings in society. For example, if you come across WhatsApp messages that claim prejudice or hatred against a particular community, they will spread with more intensity and rage. This false claim creates a false image among people regarding the thing, and the false information is spread. Sometimes, it leads to violent situations in society.
- Social media affects the mental health of individuals: The stalking, cybercrimes, frauds, and hate comments adversely affect people; problems of depression, anxiety, severe tension, and fear are emerging. Sometimes, the conditions get worse, leading to suicide as well. As Durkheim mentioned, suicide is a social fact; either more or less social involvement leads to suicide in an individual, and social media manifests and roots both. For instance, if a user posts her critical view on a sensitive topic, chances are high that she will feel instant backlash from those who are against her views. Another example is that victims of cyberfraud fear using social media. Because of social media, people get traumatised and spend years of their lives living in that trauma and fear.
- People are becoming more addicted to their phones as a result of being disconnected from social reality. People frequently ignore and neglect those around them; they are unaware of what is going on in society because they are constantly immersed in their virtual world, engaging with entertainment and people in their virtual world. People who lack social and communication skills use social media to escape and ignore people in the real world. For instance, we all know a person who has no friends in the real world but has a following of hundreds of thousands on their social media account.
- Effects on health: Social media has an impact not only on mental health, but also on physical health. The constant use of screens such as phones, laptops, and tablets directly impacts the eyes by weakening the eyesight. It also negatively impacts our creativity; it basically lessens our level of creativity. The constant use of social media also makes us lazy and less active, as we are constantly using our devices. People also suffer from insomnia, irritation, and the fear of missing out. As Parsons stated, when an individual is sick, it becomes a non-functional member of society, and sickness is socially sanctioned deviance. In our opinion, social media is also making functional members of society non-functional.
- Unverified information: While social media is undeniably a knowledge hub, not all knowledge and information on it is correct or verified. Due to the large amount of data present on social media, most of it is unverified, and the chances of receiving false information are high. For example, on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll frequently see a post with the words “more you cry, the stronger you become,” and above or below it, “psychological facts”. People consume this false information as fact. There are enormous posts like this. But, in reality, this is far from factual knowledge or information.
- Undermine people: social media do not support people; they often lack support, empathy, and rational behavior. The moment people post something sad or controversial, they start getting backlash, hate comments, and threats, because of which people suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression. People who are unable to follow trends feel isolated. People who are not on social media also feel alienated. People on social media also spread hatred and prejudices against others instead of supporting and appreciating them. People compare themselves to others on social media, which lowers their self-esteem and confidence.
- Make conscious decisions about yourself: People post pictures according to socially constructed beauty standards, in which they seem slim, have radiant skin, and have clear lips (by using filters). Other people who are overweight or slimmer, have acne or pimples on their skin, lack makeup skills, and become self-conscious about their bodies. Teens start to diet, go to the gym, and try to maintain the trending body. Adults also suffer from this. People become self-conscious, which leads to feelings of inadequacy about their bodies and appearance.
- Increased use of poor language: on social media, people use language that has poor grammar, speech, and spelling. LOL, WYD, etc. words are used while chatting with people on social media. The quality of language is deteriorating, and people are losing their culture.
From the above discussion, we can conclude that despite the various uses of social media, there are many misuses and negative impacts of it on society as a whole as well as on individuals.
Also read: Why do people share everything online?