Sociology Papers

Sociology Papers

The Impact of Social Media on Society

1. Introduction

Social media is a phrase that we throw around a lot these days, often to describe what we post on sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and others. Personally, I define social media as any internet platform or application where you can chat, send virtual gifts, or be ‘friends’ with people. I know we’re all guilty of going on a ‘like’ spree where we like every single post that our friends or heroes have made in the past few days. Social media has the potential to change the term ‘friend’ and describe the distance that we have with people. Before the days of social media, we had to do things the hard way. If we wanted to say hello, we would post a letter, buy a card, or even telephone whoever it is we wanted to speak to. However, nowadays, we can reach out to anybody in the world by simply updating certain social media apps or using the chat feature to spark an emotional connection or even end an argument. This puts social media at the forefront of new generations because it’s such an integrated part of modern-day society. However, with the potential for so much power to end disputes, why do people still feel the need to argue on social media? Well, because we have never had the technology or the power to argue with so many people before and win. The possibility of changes because of something that we post involves a lot emotionally and nowadays, we feel proud if somebody tried to argue against our far superior views. This adrenaline or the feel of empowerment is the reason why social media has been used in different ways and forms by people and we’ve seen that ‘trolling’ and ‘cyberbullying’ have become somewhat regular practices among some users. Before we contemplate installing a brand spanking new internet filter, it’s worth remembering that in some cases, especially for those who commute a long way to work or people who are too ill. The power of a platform to interact with people you want, including people you respect and people who make you happy, is a real benefit of using such social media.

2. The Influence of Social Media on Relationships

When people are looking for information about someone or about a place or the world, social media is the best solution. In that, Twitter shows the trending materials. Instagram allows people to find out about the most popular locations. YouTube shows the finest videos. As a result, social media provides a light for people to know the world well. On account of people being interested in many different things at different levels, it is necessary to use social media for these different people. Some people are trying to find out information about somebody they are interested in or something that happened to somebody around them. Someone would use Facebook to reach it, to find out about the relationship of their friends, of course, the story between their friends and the person they are interested in. My friend uses Facebook as a tool to find out the information of the people who live in the camp with him. By getting access to Facebook, he found out some information about people he does not know and finally has a better understanding of the behaviors of the people in the camp. Not only that, Facebook also shows the real face of a person. In my friend’s case, Facebook provides a real situation of the person in the camp. The people who he does not know and the person, they leave very messy and uncooked stuff in the kitchen. However, on Facebook, this person’s wall is always filled with all the stuff about God and prayer. So, social media provides everyone with a convenient, efficient way to find the things they want to find out, so people do not know where to avert their enlightenment when they are using social media. This phenomenon is more closely connected to the phenomenon of people feeling that it is necessary for them to keep updated on what is happening in the world because of the usage of social media.

3. The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

It is important to note that there may be potential risks for people who engage with social media in more indirect ways. This could involve observing and taking note of what others are posting and interacting with, or simply spending a great deal of time mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds. A large body of literature has shown that people who have a greater tendency to engage in social comparison have a greater likelihood of developing depressive symptoms. Social media platforms not only provide a space where such comparisons can be easily facilitated, but it also offers the tools for people to make these comparisons in a resourceful and natural way. For example, when considering the content that people create on social media platforms, it tends to be an idealized version of themselves that aims to convey certain positive impressions. As a result, those who are already inclined to find ways to compare themselves to others may use the methods that social media affords to them to engage in more and more comparative behaviors. The abundance of social media platforms, alongside the fact that engaging with these platforms can be done through various types of technological devices such as phones and tablets, has led to a constantly accessible and pervasive culture of comparison. This means that individuals can potentially engage with and be subject to social comparison at any time of the day, such as during leisurely moments or even last thing at night. Given the advisable use of screen time and the fact that modern telecommunication devices make it possible for people to frequently visit social media platforms, the potential risk of developing depressive symptoms as a result of problematic social comparison on social media may further be exacerbated by the very much ‘always on’ nature of these platforms on a global scale. It is worth noting that passive social media activities have been linked with an increased risk of depressive symptoms. For instance, a research study undertaken by Primack et al found that, when the participants’ social media use was broken down into several distinct activities such as activities involving direct social interaction with others (e.g. commenting on others’ posts and connecting with friends), and indirect activities (e.g. scrolling and passive video watching), the latter showed a significant association with an increase in depressive symptoms. It is thought that such a risk partly arises from a phenomenon called the ‘social media paradox’, attributed to the finding that social media use provides several perceived mental health benefits. However, research examining depressive symptoms using the social comparison theory suggests that the passive consumption of social media content may fuel greater opportunity for a mental illness to develop. In other words, there might be a mismatch between people’s expectations inspired by the perceived mental health benefits of social media, and the actual consequences of their engagement with these platforms. Specifically in the context of a passive approach to social media use, it is plausible that observed depressed feelings manifest as a surprise to the user. This would mean that the perceived mental health benefits may continue to further encourage the same mode of passive use, inadvertently exacerbating the risk of developing true depressive symptoms over time.

4. Social Media and Political Activism

Such facilities for the spread of protest and movement are undeniably powerful tools against injustice, and they’re given to ordinary individuals by the possibilities of social media.

In the realm of political activism, social media gives the individual a powerful new tool to stop injustice. It’s true that in many developed countries it’s now fashionable to belittle social-media-led movements and to emphasize the importance of ‘in-the-real-world’ action. However, the ‘big name’ public protests of yesterday, led by massive nationwide organizations, belong to an era before social media. Consider Black Lives Matter in the US, which has enjoyed huge success in mobilizing people across the vast nation. The movement originated with a social media post shared by the activist Molefe Asante – a post that then catalyzed the formation of a group on Facebook, which exploded in popularity. The Facebook group enabled people to connect, work together, and ultimately create a physical force that could be reckoned with by the US political establishment. Social media had a key role in all these stages of the movement’s development – and it was essential in enabling Black Lives Matter to grow from a minor regional concern into a nationwide force for action and justice.

One of the most powerful aspects of social media is its ability to democratize information and support the free exchange of ideas. People from anywhere in the world can express their opinions and share news or knowledge; with social media, these pieces of information can spread like wildfire. This is a marked change from the pre-digital world, and it has given rise to a type of journalism and commentary that is unaffiliated with any news organization and represents all sorts of people, not just professionals with a big platform. This is inherently a good thing for many people: it diversifies the range of opinions that are considered and it broadens our own individual worldview. It means that we’re no longer at the mercy of a few powerful mainstream voices that might seek to control the narrative to suit a particular agenda.

5. Conclusion

As examined in the first chapter, where the advantages and drawbacks of social media were discussed, the biggest negative impact was found to be a misguided overconfidence in one’s capacity to acknowledge misinformation based on a cognitive psychological approach. This method therefore outlines that people tend to believe that they have the ability to break down and avoid incorrect information when sifting through such messages when using social media. It is suggested that the future of social media includes the utilization of artificial intelligence to filter out absurdity and inaccuracy in order to transform the current toxic information ecosystem into a healthy and informative one. It was highlighted that the accurate information rate from machines interpreting data and finding misinformation was at a high 85.2%, meaning that this process could be highly effective if put in place in the future. Furthermore, even if the somewhat radical step of completely removing social media was taken, the psychological impacts of the extensive use of such platforms would not all diminish over time, as discussed in the last chapter of the book. Although the methodologies and types of analysis were different moving from chapter to chapter, the conclusion combined all the implications of the studies and demonstrates a general ideological line that an academic would consider to be suitable. The studies outline both that we have the capability of changing the impact that social media has on our lives and that we need to be aware of it. It was suggested that future research moves to focus more on the behavioral change that would accompany the action of leaving social media the impact that its removal and the subsequent impaired cognitive control would have. If even a small part of your study habits centers around social media that could easily be classed as excessive use of such platforms, psychologists must push for studies that determine the potential severity of the effect and whether short or long term cognitive functionality is at risk. This essentially summarizes, with additional details, the sort of future implications that the discovery of social media’s effect on cognitive and mental health would have.

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