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Social Media – An Actual Addiction

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“Around seven out of ten Americans (69%) use social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, as of 2018, up from 26% in 2008”. In today’s society, social media has as many critics as it does supporters. Some people portray social media as a negative tool and distraction, while others look at it as a useful tool for communication. Regardless, it is undeniable that social media does play a crucial role in today’s society. Social media makes human communication more convenient and allows introverts to express themselves. The earliest dated forms of communication with people were delivered by hand. As civilization began to form, when a person wanted to send a message, they had to write letters that were delivered by hand. In the late nineteenth century we saw what was the beginning of modern communication, with messages that were sent through the telegraph. Slowly, society shifted to telephones and radios, while scientists and engineers began to develop ways to create networks for people to converse. A few decades later, the first social networking site was called Six Degrees, and allowed individuals to upload a profile and become friends with each other. As of 2017, Facebook was listed as the most popular social media platform. People can set up a profile, upload images, and potentially connect with anyone in the world on the site. Facebook established a community and allows individuals to communicate by liking and commenting on each other’s posts, joining groups together, and personally messaging one another. Not only can you reconnect with old friends, but many people often make new friends through the site. Often, many users connect with old college buddies, teachers and family. Businesses have started to use Facebook as a way to promote and advertise. They do this “through a new feature called dynamic language optimization, brands can configure single campaign that features text in multiple languages, and Facebook will automatically show the version that corresponds to each audience member’s preferred language as set in their Facebook profile”. However, keep in mind that Facebook is just one of hundreds of websites that allow these features in this day and age.

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Created for career development, LinkedIn is the “Facebook” for professionals. People who are hiring or looking for a job may join and provide their resumes and experience. Along with posting resumes, people can contact previous employers and see what kind of skills are needed for employment. LinkedIn is a good network tool that can increase your chance of getting a job. Businesses have reported that they base their recruitment off of this site. Events such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Princess Diana’s death would have played out in a different matter had social networking be the same as it is now. If people had access to the similar technology resources we have now, maybe the aftermath would have been better. “Families wouldn’t have waited nearly as long to be reunited after 9/11; not to mention, those who couldn’t turn to real-life support could have relied on digital communities”.

Nowadays, social media is our go-to outlet when important events happen. Often, it is how we hear of these big events, and is a way where we share our inner thoughts and try to “relate to the people most affected”. Critics against the rise of social media often look to the effects that popularity and self-image have on people, especially the youth. Insecurities have increased with individuals with this increase of social reception, such as the amount of likes a person could receive on a picture of themselves. This has particularly been an issue for young women and their self-esteem. A study conducted at Penn State University proposed that “viewing other people’s selfies lowered self-esteem, because users compare themselves to photos of people looking their happiest”. Women tend to compare themselves negatively to other women’s self-portraits. Users might feel less accomplished and successful in comparison to their friends, but researchers at Cornell University debate this and infer that viewing your own profile might actually boost your ego. They placed a variety of students in a room and gave some access to Facebook, while others a mirror. Facebook had a positive impact on self-esteem whereas looking at a mirror make us overthink “social standards”.

Today, scientists started to argue whether social media is an actual addiction. Studies show that some people find it harder to resist using the internet that smoking and drinking. Research shows that excessive usage of the internet is “linked to relationship problems, worse academic achievement and less participation in offline communities”. Social media is changing and becoming more addictive. People love to pass time online which cause them to divert their attention from a specific task. Children can also be easily affected by the internet. Harmful posts can hurt them physically and emotionally. Despite all these negative reactions that the population can have in response to social media, one could still argue it’s had a more positive effect on the world. Information is traveled more easily, people are given a bigger platform than ever for their voices to be heard, and reconnecting with friends has never been easier. Maybe people need to stop being so obsessed with comparing their profiles to others, and looking at the popularity of their pages, but overall the world would be a much different, arguably worse, place than it is now.

13 January 2020

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