Does anyone still remember a world without social media?
It is hard to believe that only a little over a decade ago, our way of life was really different from the way it is now.
Although, they were some social media sites long before that, most of the population did not really see the need or use for it. Most did not even have the access to them. It wasn’t until Facebook, Twitter and smart phones came along when things really started to change.
Needless to say that in 2017, social media has forever changed the way society works, whether it’s the sharing of an idea, the communication of news, or the availability of a product or service. Social media is now used in almost every part of our lives.
I am not a huge fan of social media myself, partly because I prefer to live life in the real world, and partly because am naturally a private individual. And yet here I am, using social media to let you hear my opinion on social media.
The benefits of social media are very hard to ignore.
What are some ways social media has changed the way we do things?
Businesses across the globe can now amplify their brand message to a wider audience than they could ever dream of doing before achieving success that they could only wish for. In the old days, mass media ruled. A company had to pony up thousands or even millions of dollars to be heard in most cases. Very large companies with deep pockets ruled the roost. Only those businesses could afford to have wider reach.
Well, even an individual with a very brilliant idea coupled with excellent marketing abilities can achieve great financial success on social media.
Small companies are curving out a market for themselves amongst the 2. 4 billion people estimated to be connected on social media quite easily. Compared to television advertisements and other expensive forms of marketing, social media presence is a cheap and effective means to enhance brand image and popularity.
Social media has moved from a “nice to have” to a “must have” component or department of a company’s business strategy.
Social media has also changed how business recruit individuals into their companies. Looking back to 10 years ago, recruiters were limited in the ways they could reach out and engage with potential candidates and clients, but thanks to the rise of the internet and mobile devices paired with the growth of social media, it would seem modern day recruiters are now spoilt for choice in the ways they can make contact with potential candidates and clients.
In terms of social circles, social media has broken down barriers when it comes to communicating and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to ways of getting in contact with someone.
Social media has also made it easier for us to express ourselves. They are numerous ways we can express ourselves, not only to our friends but to the outside world. Whether that is through Facebook, Instagram pictures, YouTube videos, Medium articles. Normal people now have the capacity to make their opinion known on a massive scale. Before social media, you could have an opinion but you could only tell a few people close to you, and now, the story is different. Within a few minutes, thousands could know about your opinion.
Social media has also made it easier for us to track people down. I know what some of my former high school peers are up to even when I have not even been in touch with some of them for years. It’s that easy. There are seemingly endless sources we can search to access the information we need to find the people we have to find.
Social networks offer the opportunity for people to re-connect with their old friends and acquaintances, make new friends, trade ideas, share content and pictures, and many other activities.
But just like most things, they are drawbacks and downsides to the excessive use and reliance of social media…
First of all, the idea of ‘friends‘ was once very simple. If you knew someone, hung out with them regularly, and liked their company then they were a friend. While the people who still fit that description are still your friends, so are the people you have connected with on social networking sites apparently. Whether you talk to them, care about what they’re up to, or have any interest in them whatsoever, they’re still listed as friends.
Quite too often you see people with double identities. A self-centred attitude and the need to be accepted and liked by ‘friends’ on social media has led people to create or lead a life that they feel will be accepted and liked by the masses. And well most people attach their self-esteem to their social media activity.
Another thing that most people forget, is that, If you are not careful, what you post on the Net can come back to haunt you. Revealing personal information on social sites can make users vulnerable to crimes like identity theft, stalking, etc. As stated earlier on, many companies perform a background check on the Internet before hiring an employee. If a prospective employee has posted something embarrassing on social media, it can drastically affect their chances of getting the job.
In terms of productivity, it is quite easy to lose your focus on what you’re doing because of being addicted to social media. In fact, many companies have blocked social networks on their office Internet as addicted employees can distract themselves on such sites, instead of focusing on work.
Cyber bullying is also becoming frequent. If you are not careful, unscrupulous people can target you for cyber bullying and harassment on social sites. School children, young girls, and women can fall prey to online attacks which can create tension and distress.
No doubt that social media is changing and will continue to change our society. This change is permanent because the upcoming generation won’t even know a world were social media does not exist. This has its advantages and disadvantages, but like everything else, it’s up to the user to decide whether social media can enhance their lives or not and this all depends on how they decide to use it.
What about you? How has social media changed your life for the better? Did I miss any huge negatives that you see? Do you think the world is better or worse off with social networks? Leave a comment in the section below.