I would like to start out this post by taking a look at this picture above. When I Googled “social media images,” the resulting pages spit out millions of pictures of the common social media platforms in today’s day and age, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. But amongst these images, I came across the above picture. Reflecting back on my initial thoughts about social media prior to taking this course, I would have looked at this picture in a negative light. From that perspective, I would see seven people standing in front of that wall, staring into their devices. Even though a few of them are showing others what they are looking at or doing, I still would see a great deal of isolation in this picture. “Connecting” with people definitely has a new meaning than the tradition forms of communication.
But after taking this course, I definitely see social media in a new light. So many more doors are opened, and so much more knowledge can be learned and shared through these various mediums. Of course certain kinds of traditional communication has lessened, but even more opportunities can be reached through social media. Now looking at the above picture, I see the enthusiasm and interest amongst the people about an endless amount of interest points. I now focus on the words and symbols displayed on the walls behind these people, emphasizing how so many more relationships, networks, and ideas can be created and spread throughout all parts of the world through social media platforms. Of course all of these benefits have been seen throughout my times personally using social media, but they have been highlighted and exemplified so many times in this class, giving me an even clearer perception of what is to come in this technologically-advanced world.
My biggest take away as a common theme throughout this class’s journey is the importance of virality. We have seen that the most recognized and talked-about companies and brands were the ones that had something go “viral.” Now this can obviously be seen in positive and negative lights. Some fantastic viral campaigns ranged from #BellLetsTalk to the IPO of Snapchat, along with the creation of their Spectacles. As we have seen throughout the entire semester, this virality was only possible with the use of social media. It would have been extremely difficult to spread awareness about mental health or a new product or promotion without the now-common platforms of Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. Being able to reach such a large community of people throughout the world is truly an amazing thing.
However, the virality of a tweet, picture, or post could make the reputation of a company spiral out of control, displaying the more negative lights of this concept. We clearly saw this with the extreme United customer service issue, as well as the heat that Uber has been taking on the culture of its company. Many people would not have known anything about these bad situations if it weren’t for social media, possibly saving the name of these companies. I’m sure United and Uber wished these millions of horrible comments and postings about them weren’t capable of happening. On the other hand, it does expose the malpractices that these companies are engaging with, allowing for a conversation to happen about reviving and revamping the poor actions of these brands.
The rapid circulation of opinions, pictures, videos, and overall information has allowed our very large world to become interconnected and feel small. Personally, I have learned a great deal through the news and articles posted on Twitter, and now I actually use Twitter as a main news source due to this class. I love being able to scroll down my feed to pick and choose what articles to read about, based on what catches my attention. But can this rapid and everlasting amount of news become too overwhelming? It does indeed bring a huge amount of problems to the surface, allowing for reconstruction and improvements to ethics and practices to be made. However, do we really need to know every little detail about things that happen all throughout the world? At some point I think a line needs to be drawn about what is posted in the news because the events discussed have become much more negative than positive. Some people actually choose not to watch the news anymore due to all of the negativity discussed. If we can include more of the happier stories, along with the relevance of the worldly occurrences, we can get the most of the the news shared throughout social media.
This semester has really opened up my eyes to the world of social media, showing me how much I can actually get out of it, and which important things to pay attention to. I loved how relevant our conversations have been, touching upon a lot of everyone’s favorite brands and companies that leverage social media in very interesting ways. Social media has definitely become a crucial part of the world today, and I’m very excited to see the paths that it will go.