The last decade has seen a major change in the lifestyle of us humans. The internet became a huge part of human life as more and more aspects of our lives have gone online. These days you can order any product or service and get it delivered to your doorstep. One of the biggest changes, however, was the rise of social media platforms. Now, many people debate the pros and cons of social media, but one thing is clear. It has been quite disruptive.
To get an objective view of anything, you need to look at it without any bias. You need to take a look at the benefits as well as the risks of it. And that is what we are going to do today. We are going to talk about the pros and cons of social media platforms. That will be a fair assessment, and based on it, you can take a more informed decision about how much time you want to spend on the different social networks.
The Pros of Social Media
It has been more than a decade since the inception of social media platforms. During this time, they have led to a lot of changes in our lives. Many of these changes are positive, and they need to be appreciated for what they are. So, talking about the pros and cons of social media, let us take a look at all the benefits first. These are mentioned down below.
1. You Can Find Your Long Lost Friends
When social media platforms were still new, you would hear stories all the time about how people managed to find their long lost friends. In some cases, people reconnected after decades of not seeing or talking to each other. This is such a human thing if you think about it. Social media really brings people together. The joy and excitement that this enables are just beyond what words can describe.
You see, people drift off after they have completed their education. Some of your friends move to other states, and others move to different countries. Over the course of life, you can get so busy that you lose all touch with them. Now, without social media platforms, there wouldn’t be a commonplace for you and your friends to exist. Digital networks serve as that place where you can all hang out and reconnect!
2. Social Media Platforms Can Help Raise Awareness
This advantage of social media platforms deserves a special place. Human society is not perfect. And many issues are still plaguing us after years and years of evolution as a race. Things like inequality, racism, bullying, domestic abuse, and others are still rampant. One of the reasons why these issues still exist is because people still don’t know any better.
This is where social media platforms can shine. They can help raise awareness among people like never before. You can post articles, videos, photos, artworks, and other stuff that teaches people about these issues and the correct way of behaving in a civilized society. When more and more people do it, it takes a much bigger form, and the collective voice becomes too strong to ignore. It is then that change finally happens.
3. Social Media Can Be Useful In Emergency Situations
Sometimes, you just have to spread a message to as many people as possible. And what better way to do that than by using social media platforms. When you are faced with an emergency, say, a need for a specific blood type, you can share a request on social media. Many such requests go viral and end up saving people’s lives. This is just priceless.
Another use case can be when governments have to alert the public about an impending natural calamity like a hurricane. During such crisis events, every second counts, and the faster a message can be spread, the more lives can be potentially saved. In the past decade, there have been countless instances where social media platforms have been really helpful in emergencies.
4. They Can Be Used For Marketing of Products And Services
The last decade has seen the rise of digital marketing. If you think about it, this was the logical evolution of social media platforms. As people increasingly began using these social networks, corporations were bound to take note and advertise their services on these networks. This has led to an increase in revenue for them and has decreased marketing costs compared to earlier methods.
In fact, even small and local businesses have been able to use social media platforms to drive sales. Independent artists, writers, musicians, and other creatives have used social media extensively too. This was also how the term “influencers” was born. It shows how powerful social media for the common people. So, it is not just for the large players but for the smaller ones as well. This level playing field is a huge bonus.
5. They Can Be Used For Employment And Networking
Social media platforms are just networks of people in the digital landscape. As such, you can easily make new contacts and connections by leveraging the various tools provided by these social media sites. Traditionally, it would take you forever to source that information. This one property of social media has been incredibly beneficial for employers as well as those looking for employment.
For employers, it is now easier than ever to find the right talent for the right job. They can look at resumes online, study their existing connections, and just do a quick search for applicants based on the skills they want. For potential employees, social media has been a boon to find jobs. They can submit their resumes online, talk with the people at the human resource department in any company, leverage their existing networks to find better jobs, and a lot more. It’s not a wonder then that social media platforms have accounted for a lot of employment activity in the past decade.
6. They Provide Tools For Quick Communication
Remember the time when you had to make cellular calls to your friends on a landline? Remember how sending one SMS was a huge deal? Social media platforms have completely changed how we interact with each other. Now, we have instant text messaging, video calls, voice calls over the internet, emojis, and more! You can make a case that social media platforms have single-handedly evolved how humanity interacts with itself.
Now, a person from one country can easily talk to another person in another country regardless of the distance. And the best thing about this is that it happens for free! This was completely impossible decades ago. If you had told someone then that communication will be as easy as thinking about someone, nobody would have believed you. But now, it is our living reality.
7. You Can Earn Money Using Social Media
For the current generation of youngsters, this benefit is perhaps the most attractive. It is now possible for anyone to earn money using social media. No matter who you are, you can start a profile, start selling a product or service. If you have lots of followers, you can even be approached by a marketing agency, and you would be paid for every post you make. Many people have actually become celebrities through social media platforms.
Just decades, such a thing would be highly absurd. The right to be called a celebrity was seemingly reserved by actors, musicians, and other artists. Now, if you have a healthy amount of following, you essentially get the fame and money that an actor gets. Of course, not everyone can get to the level, but it is a possibility that is available to anyone on social media platforms. In fact, considering where the world is headed, this trend will only increase from hereon.
The Cons of Social Media
As you can see, social media platforms have a lot of benefits. However, they are not without risks. Some of these risks are so grave that governments have had to do detailed studies on their implications. So, let us now take a look at the negatives of social media to be better informed and protect yourself from any inadvertent harm.
1. They Can Lead To Privacy Issues
Privacy has been the centre point of debate when it comes to social media platforms. For a long time now, different social media companies have been accused of not treating user data with care and not ensuring their privacy. In fact, several of these companies have also been accused of selling user data to the highest bidder. If true, this is a major breach of privacy. In most countries, the right to privacy is a fundamental human right, and social media platforms undermining that right is not a small issue.
Today, we share some of the most intimate moments of our lives on social media. When we graduate from college, get engaged, get married, get a new job, or achieve anything else, we post about it on social media. We even post where we are travelling to and where we are eating. All this information should be kept private. This is not even a debate. However, with social media, you might be surrendering your privacy to large corporations.
2. They Can Lead To National Security Issues
In the past few years, you may have heard about how social media can be used to influence the elections of other countries. This can be a major national security risk for countries. Democracy is at the heart of most large nations. If that is undermined, it could lead to devastating results. Social media platforms have traditionally not done a good enough job of curtailing these risks. If anything, they have been in denial.
But recently, it has been clear that such an attack or even other types of attacks are possible using social media platforms. So, there is a need to address these issues. Social media companies say that they are actively working towards it, but we can only trust them when results are clear. Until then, this remains a risk that you should be aware of.
3. They Can Lead To Anxiety And Depression
Countless studies have been done to study the effects of social media platforms on our mental health. Most studies state that if you spend too much time on these platforms, you can get depressed or anxious. There are many reasons why this can happen. One of the most apparent ones is that people tend to compare their lives with the lives of other people. When someone posts a photo from their vacation, you might feel bad about your own life.
So, imagine if you have hundreds of friends on social media platforms, and they all post photos showing how good your life is. In this case, it is natural that you will compare your life with theirs and come to the conclusion that you are not doing the right thing. One important thing that most forget to remember is that people only tend to post about their happiest moments on social media. They don’t show the embarrassing or humbling experiences. So, to a person, it might appear that everyone else is having a good time while they are not!
4. They Inadvertently Allow People To Hurt Others
Trolling is a term that was only heard in relation to board games before social media platforms became mainstream. However, once these platforms became popular, people started using them to be hurtful to other people. There is no rhyme or reason for why they do this. However, their actions and words can have a deep mental impact on other people.
If you have used any of the social media platforms, you must have come across a troll. No matter what you post, they will say mean things about you. And the more you engage with them, the more they will get you riled up. You can always choose to ignore them, block them, and report them. However, they are always present on these platforms.
5. They Can Decrease Face-to-face Interactions
Sometimes, the benefit of something can also lead to an unforeseen disadvantage. With the rise of social media platforms, it became easier than ever to communicate with people online. No matter what time of the day it is, you can text someone, tag them, call them, and so on. This has made life much easier than one could have asked for. However, it has led to some real-world disruptions in communication.
People are increasingly choosing to communicate online over meeting in person. Not only does this curtail natural human interaction, but it also makes us lazy. Right now, we don’t even understand how this could affect our overall evolution as a species. It is important to maintain the natural way of doing things. And that can only happen by reducing the usage of social media platforms for virtually everything.
6. It Can Be A Major Source of Distraction
This is perhaps one of the biggest disadvantages and one that everyone can relate to. When you are at your desk, working on something important on your computer, and you get a random notification from one of the social media apps, you will get distracted. You will want to check it out even though you know you shouldn’t be doing that. In the end, you might find that it was just a notification from a gaming application within the social media app.
Social media platforms design their apps in such a way that they are highly attractive and easy to use. They do it to increase the usage of their apps so that they can make more revenue. However, for you, this leads to a tremendous waste of time and energy. Just think about all those tasks you could have completed had you not opened your phone and wasted countless hours on social media apps!
7. It Leads To Inauthentic Expression of Feelings
Have you ever texted “LOL” to someone, without actually laughing? Have you ever sent someone a smiling emoji without actually smiling in real life? If you have, well, you understand what this disadvantage is all about. Social media platforms have led to an unforeseen phenomenon where people are inauthentic about their feelings. The above two examples are just the start. People actually show fake emotions and feelings just because they are able to hide behind a screen.
We, humans, make sense of what the other is saying, thinking, or feeling in a number of ways. We study their body language, facial expressions, and other cues to understand them truly. All these things cannot be looked at while interacting with someone on social media platforms. So, you can only imagine the kind of lies, deceit, and inauthenticity that goes around online. This could lead to some grave issues down the line for humanity as a whole.