What are the impacts of Social Media?
The impacts of social media can be seen in just about everything that humans do. There are traces of social media in many aspects of everyday life including the way we socialize, communicate, our forms of entertainment, the way in which we gather information and the way in which we work. People are using technology now more than ever and if previous trends are any indication, this number will only continue to grow as more technological advances are made.
Negative and Positive impacts:
The biggest impact of social media by far has been the global community that now exists which would have not been possible by any other medium before it. As a result people have been able to communicate without the limitations of space and time with people all over the world that may not have otherwise been connected. Socially, people are now able to communicate with friends and family making it easier to stay in touch. Politically, candidates and elected officials have an opportunity to connect directly with their constituents. News and media can now be transmitted in ways where users can subscribe directly to feeds and even participate in the creation of stories. People have the opportunity to create content, organize groups and facilitate others with the tools that exist by reaching massive audiences that were not previously available. Companies can now recruit, advertise and create customer incentives using these tools to help their businesses grow.
On the positive side, genuine social change has taken place. Organizations like Change.org allow people to start petitions for areas they would like to see different on a global level. People are able, if they are interested to review political platforms and documents that may not have been as easily accessible. The connections that are experienced socially allow people to nurture relationships that may have otherwise been neglected. People are able to network with companies and recruiters giving them opportunities that may not have otherwise been possible. Today, people are able to get their news information at speeds not previously possible and as a benefit they are able to receive warnings about small things like traffic updates to large things like terrorist threats which can benefit massive amounts of people with little effort. In education, people are now able to participate in classrooms online and pursue degrees that may not have been an option before.
On the negative side, the consequences of receiving so much information at such a fast speed leaves very little room for error. When a political, media or social faux pas takes place, social media can create viral misinformation. Just as social media can be used to create positive social change, it also has the capability to allow for groups that may cause harm to communicate just as quickly and efficiently. The social negativity occurs when the dependence on social media allows people to neglect personal relationships in the real world. From a work perspective, company blunders that may not have previously been public can become public quickly. Employers and employees are facing challenges as far as where the lines between social media privacy and public facing profiles are drawn. As a result, people are now responsible for vigilance in protecting their online presence and personal privacy. The two largest negative impact of social media concern privacy and the rights of technology companies with personal information and the anonymity that can come with the personas that each person is creating online. There can be identity crisis as a result of a person using multiple facades to participate in many different communities on the web.
In the following video, Andrew Keen author of Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us discusses his thoughts on the impacts of social media (Keen).