Taking over our lives or broadening our horizons? The social media debate.

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A Case for Social Media

Ten years ago you might have asked: What is Facebook, flickr, myspace, Twitter, reddit, or LinkedIn? Not in today’s society! Social media has come to light over the past ten years and has now provided one of the largest modes of interaction between the average person, organizations and businesses. One of the largest and most popular social networking website is Facebook, which many people are familiar with.

There is no doubt that social networking has changed the dynamic of how we interact with each other. The controversy that has accumulated has been based off the notion that social media distracts us, makes us lazy and makes us “creepers”. In my opinion, it definitely does distract us and makes us somewhat creepy. After realizing that Facebook was starting to take away a lot of my studying time, I decided to deactivate my account.

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Although I decided to deactivate Facebook, my personal opinion is that social media is fantastic for many reasons. The fact that Facebook is distracting isn’t a justifiable reason to say that is bad for us. I personally think Facebook can be compared to other popular forms of entertainment such as hockey, football or television. One thing that these forms of entertainment have in common is that they are all very popular and “addictive”. However, we have learned to not let these things take over our lives (although some people do). If we learn to use Facebook and other social media sites casually and not let them take over our lives, it can actually be quite beneficial for us.

 

What can social media do for us as users?

 

News Source

 

Social media, especially Twitter, has changed the way we receive the news. Before I started using social media, it would be only on rare occasions that I would pick up a newspaper and be enlightened on what is going on in Guelph or around the world. Major and small news stations are now constantly updating their social media sites to inform users with live news. A recent study states that 48% of teenagers now receive their news through social media. I think this is amazing, as students and teenagers are more often times then not, disengaged with the news. Having the news being broadcasted constantly through sites where teenagers are spending a lot of their time can expose them to events that they may not have known about otherwise. I also think reading the news not only provides more information, it allows the reader to be critical and evaluate things with their own opinion. My own experiences with Twitter and the news have been great. As I am frequently driving on the 401, sometimes there can be increased traffic for unknown reasons. Having Twitter at the touch of a button allows me to check 570 News and see why there is a delay and make a decision if I should take an alternate route. Having news sources integrated into social media clearly is very advantageous!

 

Networking

 

For someone like myself who is content with keeping to themselves in the fast paced university society, social media sites like Facebook can provide a great way to network for students. Now, when students go to university they are able to join a group that pools every student attending that same school going into the following year. I think this is great, as when I went into university it was a very uncomfortable feeling at first. However, meeting a few people through Facebook allows students to network and be able to interact with other people like them before even meeting them. This networking ability can also be used for attending events, camps, etc. Overall, social media brings an extremely easy form of networking both casually or professionally, which I think only screams benefits!

Marketing

 

Marketing may be one of the more unique features that social media has provided. From a business perspective, social media is great because not only are you being able to advertise to a massive amount of people, you can also target your advertisements to specific groups of people. Of course, I should mention that more often then not, businesses are able to advertise for free. As someone who comes from a small family business, this is a great feature as we are able to constantly advertise what sales or deals are currently happening. The Social Media Examiner  conducted a study into the marketing aspect of social media and found some stunning statistics. This study has noted that increasing exposure and traffic are the top two advantages of social media. I think this is outstanding because it allows the smaller businesses that are traditionally bullied around by large companies to effectively advertise and compete with the big boys.

This is also extremely beneficial for the consumer as well. We now are able to join groups or follow businesses online and constantly be kept up to date on what is new and exciting. Lets face it, people like to be in the “know” and be able to socialize with their friends about the new and exciting trends.

Knowledge (General vs. Personal)

 

Generally speaking, social media users can gain a lot of knowledge through the various sites. For example, we are able to see through Twitter what our peers and coworkers are talking about. This simply exposes us to a whole new spectrum of knowledge that we traditionally wouldn’t be exposed to if we just used Google to search what we were interested in. After being inspired from other peers through Twitter, I now follow politicians to see what stances they are taking on certain issues. This has provided myself and many other youth a casual opportunity to interact with politicians, where as before we probably wouldn’t even know their names!

On a more personal level, businesses are now using social networking sites to evaluate and research candidates for a given job. Career Builder has conducted a study that for every five companies, two of them use social media to evaluate a candidate. Getting even more personal, 65 percent of employers are using these sites to see if the candidate exposes himself or herself as a professional.

Pleasure

Last but not least, social media can be extremely enjoyable. Just like watching a movie or a TV show, social media provides a form of entertainment that people simply find pleasurable! We are able to check Instagram to see the latest family picture of our relatives across the ocean. We can see the tweet of the new viral video surfacing the internet. The reality is that social media is fun!

What’s the verdict?

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The verdict is in. Social media can have positives and negatives. There is no doubt that social media can be distracting. However, the numerous advantages outweigh the perceived disadvantage of social media sites being distracting. Social media is exposing the youth to news, politics, marketing, and many other topics and issues that they would have never encountered without social media.

I am now going to post this blog on Twitter and share it with my friends! Hope you enjoyed.

-Steve Inglis

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