Social media. The positive and negative.
1. “Cynthia Newton’s 12-year-old daughter asked her for help with homework, but Newton didn’t want to help her, because she was too busy on Facebook. So her daughter went upstairs to her room and sent an e-mail asking her for help, but Newton did not see the e-mail because, well, she was too busy on Facebook. “I’m an addict. I just get lost in Facebook,” Newton said” (Cohen).
2. Obama’s campaign was able to garner 5 million supporters on 15 different social networks ranging from Facebook to MySpace. By November 2008, Obama had approximately 2.5 million (some sources say as much as 3.2 million Facebook. Supporters, outperforming Republican opponent John McCain by nearly four times. In terms of Twitter, Obama had over 115,000 followers, more than 23 times those of John McCain. In terms of YouTube followers and clips, people spent 14 million hours watching campaign-related Obama videos on YouTube with 50 million viewers in total. That was four times McCain’s YouTube viewers (Aker & Chang 1 & 2).
What do these cases indicate? Is social media boon or bane? The answer is that social media is neutral, neither boon nor bane. In the present paper, I intend to highlight both sides of the coin’s positive and negative impact on social media with the research presented. In several paragraphs, the focus will be on the benefits or the positive and negative impacts. These impacts have been identified in some critical aspects, such as health, youths, business, and society today.
Health and its association with social media have been one of the popular topics in the academic circle. Farpour et al. studied the impact of social media on reducing depression among cancer patients. The authors confirm that social media users are less depressed than those who do not use social media. The authors also noticed that social networking sites play a big role in improving and maintaining the psychological status of women suffering from cancer (Farpour et al. 2987). Social media also helps the patients to seek emotional support by finding other people who are also going through the same health problems. Sometimes the interaction with people with similar health problems is more beneficial and comforting, than discussing the problems with health professionals (482). Sharing healthcare experience through social networking sites, thus leads to improve health care (493). Betts et al. conducted a study to explore the miscarriage forum. There is a platform called “reason for hope” in which the users share their experiences about miscarriage and thus connect for emotional support (1). On social media, people feel that others accept them. They can thus overcome the fear of social isolation.
Sometimes, people cannot openly demonstrate their creativity and other qualities in front of the public. Especially the inward, and introverted people whom cannot show their potential creativity and ability. On social media platforms, they feel safe, they feel comfortable. Social media offers them a wide scope to show their talents and creativity. This serves to help them improve their mental health and keep themselves mentally stable and balanced. Social media is also used by the Health Care Professionals in providing quality healthcare to their patients. HCPs use social media for interacting with the present, past, and future potential patients. Due to social media, it has become possible to share information about the hospitals, clinics and healthcare services to the customers. The private healthcare professionals also use social media to promote their services with the endorsement from satisfied patients. The social media presence of the hospital or clinic has become imperative as it is one of the key success factors for the healthcare. The online presence helps them to keep transparency as well. There are huge networks of nurses, doctors, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Mobile healthcare service is also expanding on a rapid pace in which the doctors create and motivate the patients to use apps through which the prescriptions were given. The medical history and other documents of the patients are stored in the mobile app. WhatsApp, Telegram, Messengers are the apps that can use to interact with the patients. In response to the recent COVID-19 Pandemic, when it was not possible for the patients to physically visit the clinic and hospitals, the apps and social networking sites were helpful for minor to moderate health issues. Healthcare professionals use social media to spread the message and make people aware of their own health and community members’ health. Some of the successful social media campaigns are World Heart Day (to reduce heart diseases), World Heart Day, CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers, New Zealand Health Sponsorship Council Online Anti-Smoking Games, and many more.
Scholars have also observed the negative impacts of social media on health. In a psychological and mental sense, social media may increase the likelihood of depression. The top pharmaceutical companies and illegal drugs suppliers have a strong presence on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook. The videos of tobacco and cigarette brands are also available on YouTube. It leads to addiction among our youth as they are the main users of social media today.
Social media’s impact on youth is also profound as teenagers and young people are the primary social media users, and social media has transformed their lives. Several educational videos are available on YouTube that can be easily accessible for students to learn academic and cocurricular things. Although the odds of voluntary learning still remain in question. Social media has made distance learning possible. At the onset of COVID-19, the importance of social media was drastically highlighted. Video presentation platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts Web Video conferencing made it possible for the instructors to teach their students online. Social networking sites for college students are being developed. The Twitter accounts of the students can interact with other students. Social networking sites also help students to develop leadership and other soft skills. It also serves as an effective tool to encourage students and overall youngsters to share their creativity (Raut and Patil 282).
Nonetheless, the negative impact of social media on students cannot be overlooked. One of the negative impacts is the distraction of the students from their studies, instead of studying. The students spend substantial time on social media, chatting and posting. Social media is popular, especially among the students, and they are the main users of these sites. Spending time on social media means watching screens (either mobile or PC) for hours. When social media is operated on mobile, the person tends to look down for hours. It causes back pain and an eyesight problem. Instead of spending time on the playground, they spend maximum time in the virtual world, which is not real. They are involved in creating a different avatar on social media. In some cases, fake identity and personalities are created, which people then choose to hide behind. Some might even prefer their new fake identities over their own reality. This behavior is called egocentrism to attract people in an excessive way (Kuss & Griffiths 3530). They cannot cope with the real world and carry their original identity. They are likely to face psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and narcissist personality disorder.
People with bad intension can easily manipulate teenagers and youths. Many times, they get connected with the wrong people and are trapped by them for their wrong deeds. The criminals and fraud trap them and lead them towards the wrong path. Unfortunately, most only realize it once it’s too late, they are in too deep with no way out. Though the children and teens are tech-savvy, they are too young to understand the evil intention they are likely to use by the unknown people from the virtual world. The youths end up as victims to cyberbullying, losing their mental health and may lead to committing suicide (Padmalosani 786).
Social media is used for professional purposes to expand our knowledge and scope of studies, expand the business, spread a good image of the company, reach potential customers, and expand the professional network (Akram and Kumar 347). Social media has become an inevitable tool for any business and not an option as it is the default option for consumers, businesses, and artists (Appel et al. 82). Promoting products and services, brand building, recruiting, and reaching billions of people worldwide had once been a dream. Nevertheless, it is possible just because of social media. Considering the growing popularity of social media and its reliance on it, it has been the top of its agenda.
Nonetheless, the size (small, medium, and large scale) and the type (startups, individual, freelancers) social media has become an effective platform for creating contacts, sharing work experiences, recent activities, and personal and business promotions. The businesses use common strategies such as engaging the clients with interesting stories about the companies, sharing photos and videos, building a strong online network, and the company’s brand. The companies also use social media to attract talents and sustain its brand as an employee-friendly company. Social media has facilitated direct interaction between buyers and sellers. During the Pandemic, social networking sites played a vital role in connecting the companies to their customers. The business meetings were also held using social media interfaces such as Skype and Facetime, the key social media tool (Stelzner, 2013). Social media is indeed a boon for businesses if it is utilized strategically. However, it can be a pain if not used properly. Like a good image, social media can spread bad images also. It can spoil the reputation of the company, which ends up using potential customers. Even a small mistake can be costly in the presence of social media. A latest Indian example of this is a controversial ad of Tanishq, a reputed jewelry brand of TATA lost its reputation. The brand was badly condemned, and Tata’s image and reputation were damaged. It is very easy for dissatisfied customers to spread negative messages about the companies through customer reviews of different sites. They can also spread the message in their network, and it can easily reach millions of people tarnishing the brand’s image. Sometimes, the customers or the company’s employees can spoil the business’s image out of revenge. They are likely to blackmail the company for their demands that are sometimes unrealistic. In such a situation, the responsibility of the social media department becomes crucial. Considering these challenges, social media strategies should be designed and executed smartly.
Social networking sites are the key resources for education, community building, marketing and branding (Ventola 493). However, any technological advancement, including digital or social media, is neutral. Its advantages and disadvantages are determined by the way we use it. I discussed the positive and negative impacts of social media on society’s key components, such as healthcare and business. I also discuss them in the context of the students’ and teens’ life with social media. It is of utmost importance to attain a fine balance while using social media for personal purposes. This recommendation is especially for teens and students. The companies and healthcare organizations’ social media department should also be alert about the potential threats and disadvantages of social media.
Aaker, Jennifer, and Victoria Chang. Obama And The Power Of Social Media And Technology. Standford Graduate School Of Business, 2009, http://file:///C:/Users/megh7/Downloads/M321%20(2).pdf. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.
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