The Impact of the Social Media on the Society
The revolutions that have taken place in the Islamic countries in the recent years were highly propelled by the social media. The civil wars in Africa were greatly facilitated by hate speeches and virtual confrontations on the social media. Cyber bullying has continued to increase over the years; it is an issue that affects not only the young people, it has been identified to affect the adults too. The issue of privacy and security on the cyber platform has been a continuous debate between scholars, policy makers and IT companies. The social media has also been identified to have a negative impact on the health of individuals as well as the behavioral activities of people. In light of these impacts, the social media has more negative than positive impact on the society (claim).
When the social media started gaining popularity at the turn of the 21st century, it was perceived as a platform of interacting and sharing ideas with people that one could not have otherwise met face-to-face. The founders of Facebook started the site as a school community site where the students or companies would interact. Other social sites that were present in the 1980s and 1990s were community based and were mainly used for positive activities. However, after these social sites started gaining more popularity, their original use evolved. Currently, the social media has been used for making both positive and negative impacts on the society. Nonetheless, it appears as though the negative impacts have out-run the positive effects.
Researchers indicate that the use of social media is causing a negative effect on the health, social, political and financial aspects of the society members. Regarding the health aspect, people are spending a significant amount of time daily on social sites. This is translated as time taken away from engaging in activities that could cause physical body exercise. Nowadays, a social site such as Facebook has games. Both children and adults are therefore spending a significant share of their “free” time playing such games rather than engaging in another healthy activity such as walking, swimming, jogging or doing yoga. It is relevant to note that this is in addition to the time spent catching up with newsfeeds and friends online.
Socially, it is identified that meeting people online rapidly substitutes meeting people and friends physically. Online dating, staying in touch with a friend who is physically far away, online businesses and other social media aspects are overriding the quality of time spent with another person, who is physically close. Although the social media has greatly helped people to communicate and maintain relationship even when they are physically not together, it reduced the amount of time spent with a person physically. It is relevant to note that talking to a person online is not the same as talking to him/her physically. It is easier to lie, mislead or defraud a person through online means compared to physical means.
Concerning the political sphere, the social media has been used on various occasions to cause political turmoil across the globe. In Africa, it was used to cause civil wars in various countries. In different countries around the globe, social media has been used for campaigning and propelling propaganda, especially during the election period. Individuals and activists used the social media to start and propel their agenda during recently experienced revolution in the Islamic countries in the Middle East. Although it could be argued that the revolution was a positive impact, it is also relevant to note that identifying the false information from the true one was a challenge, yet both types of information were equally impactful.
The issue of cyber privacy as well as security has been discussed over the years. While companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have been asked to allocate more resources towards ensuring that the online users are safe, the companies have placed their concerns relating to the extent the regulators are willing to go in order to ensure that security prevails. Nonetheless, it is evident that the challenge of security and privacy still dominates the social media arena. Hacking of personal accounts and infringement of people’s rights has occurred since the onset of this era. People have had their videos or photographs posted online without their consent. Some of the videos are being categorized as a sign of bullying as such posts attract criticisms and negative comments on the victim. Embarrassment and humiliation, which leads to depression, amongst issues can emerge.
People may argue that although there are negative impacts of the social media, they are not as numerous as the positive effects. They may also argue that the negative impact of embracing the social media is not more impactful than the positive aspect of the same. Parties on the opposing side may identify the various ways that the social media has been used as a positive influence. Health institutions and organizations have used it to spread campaigns or messages relating to specific issues.
Politically, as indicated earlier, the social media has been used to spread the political agenda across the globe. Political candidates have greatly used the social websites to campaign and communicate with the targeted population. Prior to this social media period, people used to communicate through telephones and other traditional avenues. Although they were effective as tools of communication, the social media platform has provided other opportunities. People can not only communicate, but also meet new people. It is therefore an effective avenue to network socially.
The opponents may also argue that there is nothing that does not have its negative aspect. However, the issue should be to identify ways of eliminating the weak aspect of the feature or thing. Nevertheless, it is different when a feature has a negative aspect and when it has a negative aspect that is more influential than its positive aspect. This is why the social media is of concern to the society.
Although the solution is not to eliminate the social media; it is recommended that stricter and stronger policies and regulations are to be set in order to ensure than the negative aspect of the social media is controlled. This relates to policies that will reduce cyber bullying as they enhance privacy and security.
The social media has both, positive and negative aspects. However, its negative aspects seem to be more impactful that the positive aspects in the area of health, social-life, politics, privacy and security.