A Look At The Other Side Of The Coin

As this semester comes to a close, I look back on my ‘Initial Thought’ post and find that I still struggle with putting words to paper. Coming into this class, I knew the blogs were going to be a challenge for me given I prefer numbers to words. While this still holds true, I managed to survive the assigned writing assignments and in the process learned a great deal about social media and digital business. The student presentations, Twitter news feed, guest speakers, and required class readings all evoked interesting and insightful class discussions. These different channels of information resulted in a well-rounded curriculum that focused on up-to-date subjects and material.

Prior to taking this class, I never really weighed the pros and cons of social media rather I tended to only acknowledged the benefits. From staying connected and networking to receiving and watching the latest news, I never gave much thought to any of the disadvantages. I like to think its because I was never a heavy user of social media before enrolling in this class. However, as a result of this class, I now have a new outlook on social media and how it can negatively impact consumers’ self-confidence, relationships, and privacy. Below you’ll find the two topics that altered my view on social media the most.

From Bullies to Trolls

Growing up, I’d encounter at least one bully in my elementary or middle school class who found pleasure in being mean to other students. However, the mistreatment involved telling secrets, cutting lines, or excluding classmates from activities or groups. I believe the bullying was relatively minor given he/she could not hide behind a computer. With the advancements in technology and social platforms, bullying has been taken to a whole new level, while simultaneously taking on a whole new meaning, trolling.

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 8.04.51 PM.pngWhile I could have guessed that some of our classmates have been subjected to minor trolling, I was surprised to learn that the majority of them have experienced more severe forms of trolling, including emotional intimidation, verbal abuse, or social abuse. I always imaged trolls to be just that, ‘trolls’ – basement dwellers who do not contribute to society. However, it was alarming to learn that a large number of trolls are in fact doctors, lawyers, elementary school teachers (must learn it from their students), and inspirational speakers. They are actually real people that we may know and who function normally in the world. While these trolls are attempting to drown out other people’s voices, social media platforms are starting to take small steps to remove the trolls’ unwanted comments. Over the course of the semester, both Instagram and Facebook implemented updates that allow users to block “inappropriate comments” on their posts and set filters for specific words. I feel it is their obligation to ensure its members feel safe. Social media platforms have a long ways to go in order to protect its users from unwanted comments this is a step in the right direction.

Alone, Bored, Or Socially Awkward?

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve gotten distracted by my phone while writing this blog. I’ve checked my social media accounts, text messages, and email numerous times as a method of procrastination. Considering its finals week for me, I’ve been isolated in my apartment for the last 3 days studying. However, I weirdly feel connected to my friends just by checking their social media accounts and receiving SnapChats from them. I used to think it was just a way to cure my boredom; however, Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk made me realize that it is actually a way for me to not feel alone.

I find it funny though that I frequently find my friends, siblings, and even my parents with their faces glued to their phones when they are in a social setting. Why would anyone feel alone when they are surrounded by familiar faces? Today, individuals feel more comfortable contacting one another via text messages and emails rather than having a face-to-face conversation or picking up the phone. This is causing younger generations to learn social skills later and later in life; and therefore, tend to be socially awkward and find it difficult to look people in the eye when talking to them. Ultimately, this will negatively impact their present and future relationships in their everyday and work life.

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Professor Kane’s Social Media and Digital Business class provided insight into the pitfalls and consequences that come with being a user of social media platforms. I now find myself being hyper aware of comments and usage behaviors of social media that I once overlooked. I’m eager to see what changes social media platforms make to either enhance or further upset users’ safety and relationships.

 

7 comments

  1. finkbecca · ·

    Nice final post! I, too, was shocked to learn how many “trolls” are doctors, lawyers, and school teachers. It’s hard not to picture someone who lives in their parents basement and plays online all day. This class has certainly opened my eyes to some things I never expected before! I’m curious to see how social media and technology use will develop further and what it will be like for generations to come. I’ve definitely noticed that, especially with younger people, holding your phone to your face during a conversation (thinking you can multitask) has become a norm. That drives me nuts!

  2. I’m glad you seemed to enjoy Prof Fichman’s class. That was a new addition for the semester.

  3. Nice post! I agree that it’s really surprising to find out that a lot of trolls are actually normal human beings and not just people who stay in basements. It’s a shame that they use social media as some kind of outlet to be mean to other people (or to shame them, like the Justine Sacco example), but it is good that social media sites are starting to implement features to help protect people from being bullied. It’s interesting to think about how your two points sort of relate to each other. While people are being less social in person and are spending more time on their phones, some people are choosing to use that power to just be mean to others instead. What would they be doing if they didn’t have social media? Would they be mean to people in person, or would they not even have those urges to troll?

  4. Nice post! I really liked how you highlighted two particular aspects of our course- trolling and the sense of isolation. Reading your post, there seems to be a common theme through many of the other posts, including yours, in our classmates post. Most of us came into the course with one view of social media- that is a way to keep in contact with your friends, the news, etc. What we have often failed to recognize is how social media has its negatives. It really can lead to a sense of isolation and lack of ability to communicate effectively and efficiently. I think through this class, we may recognize when social media and these platforms distract us from real life and how to more proactively enjoy our life. Overall- great post!

  5. kdphilippi18 · ·

    Great final reflection! Our class discussion on trolls also shocked me during the semester. While I was aware of trolls on the internet, I hadn’t given much thought to how they harass individuals. I always thought of it happening to celebrities or companies. In my current job, we are constantly monitoring our social sites for negative, rude, and harassing comments. We normally don’t censor any of them unless they are really bad, but to think that trolls do this to people who are not in the public spot light is scary. After listening to our classmates and also people whose posts have gone viral and theirs lives ruined – it leaves me confused as to why regular people feel the need to do this to others. I’m glad to hear the recent news that Instagram is implementing new features to help reduce trolling or abusive behavior! I don’t think it will stop it all together, but it will definitely help reduce these comments and hopefully, make users feel safer.

  6. polmankevin · ·

    Nice post! I also struggled at times with the blog posts. The open-ended nature of the blogs made picking a topic more difficult for me than actually writing the post. Similarly, I can definitely relate to your point about the negative aspects of social media. Before taking this class I acknowledged that social media wasn’t all positive, but this class really opened my eyes to some of the negative effects. From trolls to procrastination and everything in between, the negative effects are plentiful. Good always comes with the bad, and social media is no different.

  7. Awesome post! I definitely have to agree with you on struggling a lot with the writing in this class as a numbers kind of person. But what I’ve found through a lot of the classes I’ve struggled in is that I always end up learning so much, and this class is no different. It’s fascinating that despite so many of us being frequent users of social media, we never pay attention to the finer details (i.e. trolling, procrastination, social prejudice, etc.) that can actually make social media a lot less attractive.

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