Final Thoughts

In preparation for this post I reread my Initial Thoughts on Social Media post. Turns out I was pretty ignorant to the widespread usage and impact of social media. Reminded me of the old intro to MTV Diary. Thank you Kelly Clarkson for the trip down memory lane back to 2002.

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I was so focused on Social Media referring to people glued to Facebook newsfeeds, animal faced snapchats, and food pictures on instagram. In my mind, I was relatively immune to the “evils” of Social Media and was under the influence that it didn’t have a big impact on my life. In other words, I was a bit of a hater…

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When I started this course I thought I would learn about how Social Media has transformed the way companies interact with consumers. While this was covered in class it’s not what I am taking away from the semester (sorry Professor Kane). Another topic I thought would be important was Social Media as a communication medium with friends. With liking, tweeting, posting, friending, poking, it’s pretty difficult to keep up. Once again, this topic isn’t really my take away from the semester. Both are relevant to the evolution and role of Social Media in society but neither gave me that feeling of revelation. So the question is, what did I take away from a semester of Social Media?

What really stood out and stuck with me was the hidden power of social media. By hidden power I mean how social media is quickly and quietly transformencarta.jpging individuals. My reflections became very centered on myself. How was social media sneaking into my life and shaping my thoughts and actions? Was social media changing who I was as a person? Luckily being on the wrong side of 30 means that I remember a life before technology. Although I don’t remember a life without technology, I do remember reading newspapers and using Microsoft Encarta for conducting research.

Learning about inconsistent Google search results, fake news, and the concept of a filter bubble make me realize that society puts too much faith in technology and is often blind to its imperfections. I was suddenly questioning my own polarized political view, affinity for CNN, and continuing favoritism towards liberal reporting. The fear that a machine was controlling my perspective on the world was quite unsettling. It made me start to force myself out of my own tech bubble. I found myself reading several news sites to get a well-rounded story. What’s difficult to combat and almost downright scary is the filter bubble. I’m not sure how to tell Facebook and Google to present me with different stories and results. Knowing might be half the battle but I’m still worried about losing the war…

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Another internal reflection revolved around the fact that nothing in my life was private anymore. I mildly worry about my apartment getting broken into while I’m posting picture on vacation but to be honest it doesn’t keep me up at night. We should all be a little more concerned about the amount of data being stored on the internet. The amount of personal data available, posted both by my friends and me, is immense. You may think that you are being careful with you posts and privacy settings but it’s difficult to control he information that other people post about you. To assume that information can still be private is naïve. It’s impressive that more identities don’t get stolen. Security questions often include birthdays, zip codes, mother’s maiden name, and other very simple data points that can be easily found with a couple clicks through Facebook.

In the end, I like to think of Social media as a wild animal. Some people may think it’s a good idea to pet the tiger, which is what happens when you put all your personal information online, trust the “news”, and ignore other sources. In reality, we all need to remember that the tiger has claws and teeth. We need to respect the strength and power of Social Media and be careful not to dismiss it as just for teens and companies. It holds a prevalent role in today’s society and it seems to keep getting larger. Now that it has grown to this size, we need to think about how to monitor and police social media so that supports instead of defines our future.

5 comments

  1. fernaneq4 · ·

    It’s funny you say “society puts too much faith in technology and is often blind to its imperfections” because while I bash technology in my blogs, I blindly trust it. My parents often freak out when I use apps like Venmo or PayPal because they think somehow someone is going to take all of my money. As much as I have seen on the news not to tag your location, on Instagram, I still tag my location! My Facebook page, while on private, still says where I am from and may even have my phone number. You’re right to say the amount of personable data out there is insane. If someone were to hack my computer, all my passwords are saved on safari’s preferences because it just makes life so convenient. At this point, now I feel like I’m telling everyone I’m a target… but we kind of all are! Great post!

  2. wfbagleyiii · ·

    Great post, and such a true sentiment. If there is one thing that I have learned it’s that we need to be sensitive to everything that we’re putting online. For the same reasons that social platforms can empower us, they can also awaken a tiger that needs not be disturbed.

    Also, I think you make a great point about whether or not social is changing people. In a lot of ways I think it’s desensitized attitudes toward pretty callous behaviors. This could also be a product of my realizing that I’ve been being trolled by our next commander in chief, but I think it’s easier for people to be mean and get away with it – there’s a level of snark that I don’t really recall being normal. At any rate, great final post and a good reminder to stay alert about what you make public!

  3. Good post! Following your metaphor of the tiger, I will say that we have no idea how to pet the tiger, we are just touching it and trusting he will not it us. This wild animal that society has created is undoubtedly a mysterious and scary for us. I did not know about the filter bubble and now i frequently ask myself if i am biased, if I really have a impartial vision of certain things.

  4. Nice post. No need to apologize for companies interacting with consumers not being a key takeaway. I actually find other stuff more interesting as well.

  5. Nice post – your pet the tiger comment had me laughing to myself. While I do think there are definitely a ton of risks involved with social media, I think there are some immense benefits (such as staying in touch with people who are far away and who I otherwise would have lost touch with) that are too hard to ignore. This class has really taught me to think harder about the ramifications of my social actions though!

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