In the beginning, when I first joined this communication class, I admitted how much I didn’t care for social media. In fact, my first blog explained how much I disliked social media and blogging. I don’t think that I ever really understood people’s obsessions with social media. Sure, I have a Facebook account, (of which I rarely use) and I also have had a MySpace page in the past, but I’ve never spent more than a few minutes on either (on any given day).Originally, I created both my Facebook and Myspace pages because friends suggested that I should and I wanted to be able to keep in touch with friends in an “asynchronous” manner (rather than calling, texting, or physically meeting up). I’ve always had a great (and somewhat vast) group of friends, which is a bit ironic that I disliking social media, since I am far from being a social pariah. I consider myself to be a very socially active person. I like meeting people and hanging out with friends, so it is a little weird that I have withdrawn myself from the realm of social media. Although, I guess one could argue that I just like to take the traditional approach when it comes to being social. Meaning that I would much rather have face to face social interaction (along with calling or texting), instead of spending hours sifting through the numerous comments and post that exist on my friends Facebook pages or Twitter walls.
To be honest, I have never really had a devastating experience with social media. In addition, I’ve never took part in causing someone harm through social media and I don’t think that I have ever witnessed any social bullying firsthand. However, I have heard the horror stories about such occurrences and I can’t help but feel like those stories justify my dislike for social media. Reading the story, that was attached to this blog assignment (taken from an article that was in Vanity Fair magazine), about a girl that was bullied in eighth grade by a boy that decide to post a video on Facebook; with him insulting the young girl for more than 10 minutes, while showing her picture. Supposedly, the bullying started over something miniscule, between her and another girl (that was her friend), which led to the guy friend of the girl posting the threatening Facebook video, hoping that it could cause the victim to commit suicide. Eventually, the victim of the bullying told her dad and her dad spoke to the principle. The end result was that the video was taken down, but a substantial amount of damage had already been done. The victim had lost a lot of friends (including on Facebook), she was suspended for a few days, and she had therapy. Not to mention, the boy that created the video did not receive any punishment because the principal of the school was friends with the boy’s mother. Reading this story reminded me that most social media bullies usually don’t suffer any consequences for their actions, which is another reason why dislike social media. The story mentioned above is a special case (because the principal knew the bully’s mom), yet I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen cruel and unruly comments posted on social media or other sites (that have a comment section). I can’t speak of the affect that those comments had on the person that they were intended for, but I can imagine that the person on the receiving end of those comments can’t help but feel a little hurt, as I can’t help but feel a bit uneasy while I am reading them. This concept of people not suffering any consequences from being rude online was brought up in our communications class. Our Professor pointed out that most people wouldn’t even come close to being this rude in person, yet given the ability to be anonymous, people tend to go to the extreme and say the most heinous things.
So far, it seems that I have only pointed out the negative aspect of social media and the reality is that social media does have some beneficial qualities as well. Like most other technologies, social media helps bring people together. It allows us to communicate with people that are hundreds of miles away. It also allows us to connect to people that we wouldn’t be able to connect with otherwise, like celebrities and other famous people. The likely chance of us being able to communicate with famous people that we admire, without the use of social media, used to be slim to none. In today’s world though, you can check up on your favorite musician or actor, by simply visiting their social media accounts and there is a chance that they may reply to something that you’ve said. Aside from connecting with people, social media has made news seem almost instantaneous, giving us the ability to always be in the loop. In my communications class, some of my classmates suggested that they sort of use social media as a news source, because many stories are first brought to the attention of news outlets through someone’s social media account (as they were a bystander to an incident, then recorded and posted). Another positive aspect of social media can be found within blogs. Blogs help people share information and opinions on a subject. It really gives insight into other people’s perspectives and instead of hearing information from one traditional source, which could be skewed (although blogs are often skewed as well).
In the end, I can’t say that this class has totally changed my opinion about social media. A part of me still believes that social media is a gigantic time sink and I feel like I would be wasting time if I were more invested. Some people would probably challenge my previous statement with the concept of the displacement theory; suggesting that the time I would spend on social media would only take away from other leisure activities, meaning that I wouldn’t be losing out on anything significant. However, I feel like I really enjoy the time with my current leisure activities and I would prefer to not have them replaced. Needless to say, having to write this blog, I have a newfound appreciation for social media and I can see the importance of it. Initially, I thought that social media was just so people could thoughtlessly send pointless things between each other as a source of entertainment. I have come to find that social media can be a source for more than entertainment. Social media can be a place to get information and news. It can be a place to share things with friends and family members or connect with other people around the world. It can also be a place where opinions and ideas can be heard and debated about. In short, social media can be used for plenty of meaningful things. After having this class, I think that I can finally understand the usefulness of social media and somehow find ways to incorporate it into my life. Just like I mentioned in one of my previous blog post (“Century 21”), I hope to never be a late adopter that stubbornly rejects technologies, such as social media, until it is a necessity of everyday life. As our professor mentioned in class, using the famous words of Bob Dylan, “Times they are a-changin’”, and I have to learn to change and grow with them.