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What is Social Media? How does it Effect us?

Updated on April 13, 2012

Social media is one’s primary source of news, entertainment, and communication for most people in today’s culture. There are many advantages to this widespread development as well as disadvantages. Information has become easily obtained through social media and is almost instant. It is important to understand all advantages and disadvantages before using social media.

One advantage to easily obtainable information is convenience. It is convenient for people to go to one place and get the latest news, listen to the new number one song on the billboard charts, watch the music video to that song, all while chatting with multiple friends at once. It is easier than reading a large newspaper, listening to the radio, watching TV, and talking on the phone at the same time to accomplish the same thing. It allows one to multi task and complete those tasks in a shorter period of time accommodating society’s impatient nature. A disadvantage to easily obtainable information is when vital or sensitive information becomes available when it should not be. It is unfortunate when someone is using social media and discovers a family member died in a car accident before the authorities can properly notify the family. Not all news should travel fast and be easily attainable.

Social media provides a way to communicate with distant relatives. One can chat online through social media websites in real time without accruing the cost of long distance phone rates. Sharing photos is easier than ever. One can take a picture on a camera phone, instantly upload it, and share it with friends and family members. Businesses are using social networking sites to build a community of customers and fans. This helps businesses show their clients they are human beings also. Having the ability to respond to customer messages and comments is beneficial in communicating with their target audience. It is a form of free advertisement that can increase sales and profit without expensive advertising. Social media can also have disadvantages when people misuse it. Cyber bullying is a modern method of bullying. Cyber bullying is not only limited to children. Adults suffer from cyber bullying through social media sites as much as children in today’s society. Words can be hurtful enough when being bullied, but social media allows one to be bullied publicly adding to the humiliation. Hurtful words have transcended into pictures and videos. Social media is only as good as the person using it.

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of social media can alter the way person uses it in several ways. Understanding how a community of followers can boost sales of a business with free advertisement may encourage one to use it as a tool than personal amusement. The disadvantage of negativity and bullying can make a person use social media in a more private forum. Most social networking sites allow people to choose what information and photos are viewable by the public. This is a helpful feature in customizing in how one uses social media.

There are many credibility issues that can arise from information found on the internet. Before the internet people would rely on news broadcasting or newspapers. Typically when a reporter publishes a story it needs valid sources and those sources need to be confirmed and reliable. The internet sprung a different type of media. It gives the average person the platform to talk about anything they want without reliable sources. One’s opinion suddenly became the focus of a news story than one’s research and hard work to prepare facts. This makes a majority of the internet not credible.

Understanding how social media works can be a useful tool for a business interested in free advertising. It can also be a beneficial networking method between friends and family who live far apart. However, there are many disadvantages that one needs to understand along with advantages, which is key in using social media successfully.

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