Although I think that social media has both its negative and positive implications for us personally, it has great potential for businesses.
This is how I summed up my first blog post for this class back in September. Throughout the past few months, I’ve found that yes, social media has both positive and negative implications for us personally, and yes, it has great potential for businesses. Of course, these are some pretty general statements that can applied to basically everything, and over the course of this class I’ve learned about how it’s more complicated than that. So, I thought I would take a look at how what we talked about in class helped me realize the nuances of my initial thoughts on social media (with some Disney gifs I made back in high school sprinkled throughout to help keep things interesting).
The Negative Implications
In my initial blog post I talked about how social media can be bad for our mental health due to things like FOMO or being envious of other people’s lives. In class, we talked about how trolls are “ruining the internet” and about online harassment with Professor Fichman. There was the discussion about whose responsibility it is to prevent online harassment: is it the social media sites? The government? During the course of the class, we saw how Instagram rolled out features to help prevent bullying by filtering out certain keywords. Whether or not it is Instagram’s responsibility to prevent trolling, these features are a step in the right direction and will hopefully help prevent people from being harassed.
I’ve always known about how privacy is a concern when it comes to social media. My parents used to warn me about not putting my name online and god forbid uploading my photo to the internet. Of course, these things have happened since then and it’s seen as completely acceptable by many people. The last video I watched for class, Group C’s Future Without Secrets, covered how easy it can be to find out information about people just from a photo online. It was kind of scary – not only how little privacy we all have now, but how okay everyone is with uploading so much information online. The speaker did mention though how it can be possible for big data to work with privacy, though, such as features like being able to browse the Internet incognito or letting electronic transmissions take place in a privacy-preserving way.
So yes, social media definitely has negative implications for us personally. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to start cutting down on online harassment and it is possible to balance privacy with big data. Although we can try to do little things on our own to combat the negative aspects, it does primarily rest on the shoulders of these social media companies.
Giving a Voice to the Voiceless
This seems like it would be such a great concept. And it can be! We saw an example of how social media gave a voice to women who had been sexually harassed and hadn’t been listened to. But this giving a voice to the voiceless concept can also backfire. I’m sure most of you remember the Justine Sacco example pretty clearly, and this is a good demonstration of how sometimes people can use this power in a detrimental way. It simply got way too out of hand.
I also wrote in my initial blog post about how social media helps us stay connected to people who may live far away that we otherwise would have lost touch with. However the Ted Talk we just watched by Turkle mentions how although we are connected, we may still be alone. She talked about how our devices are so psychologically powerful that they change who we are and how we have trouble in relating to others. Although we may be connected with more people because of social media, the depth of those relationships may not be quite the same as what you might have with someone you mostly communicate with in person.
Social media has some great benefits for us, but a lot of these benefits do have drawbacks. People can abuse the voice that social media gives them to shame people and cause mental health issues. It also can impact both the way that we relate to other humans as well as the way we think and process information.
Great Potential for Businesses
Something that I had found particularly interesting was during the Ted Talk about designing for scale and how the tiny like button had taken over 280 hours to design. Even though it’s tiny, it’s seen billions of times every day and millions of people will notice it. With such a huge user base, Facebook has to be very careful with every feature, no matter how small.
The JK Wedding Dance was an interesting one. I knew about it from The Office, but I didn’t know about all of the Sony/Chris Brown related things behind it. Sony had its options when it came to what to do about this video, and had to consider the consequences for each one. The video had a lot of potential for them, as it could help Chris Brown’s image and maybe even lead to increased sales, but they had to be careful about what move to make. If they had the video taken down, it would have reflected poorly on them.
Social media does hold a lot of potential for businesses, but it very much also depends on how smartly the businesses use social media. You have to tread carefully, as social media is so public and everyone can quickly react to what you did. With great power comes great responsibility.