Social media has turned into one of the largest technological advancements in recent history. From Facebook to Snapchat and everything in between, a number of social media apps have cemented themselves in society and they continue to change on a regular basis. But what exactly does this mean for all of us?
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2005 just 5% of all American adults used at least one social media platform; however, that number doubled in 2011 and is now up to 69% today. A Forbes article about social media marketing also stated that there were over 40 million active small business pages on Facebook nearing the end of 2016. Social media is huge in the business world, as it is used largely to monitor consumers and create an online presence. When executed efficiently, there are a number of benefits that come from nearly all social media platforms for businesses in all fields.
On a more personal scale, social media is also a great way to connect with others. This may sound obvious, but I feel that this is often overlooked when talking about social media. Anybody with a smart phone, which is basically everybody, is capable of connecting with someone on the other side of the world with the click of a button. The world is more intertwined now than it’s ever been, and although it may still be a weird concept to think about, it really sheds a new light on technology and where we stand as a society.
However, while social media has it’s many upsides, it has many downsides as well. As mentioned previously, the world is more intertwined now than it’s ever been, but we are also more divided. As individuals, we have an innate desire to associate with people whose views and values align with our own. Especially on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, we share and retweet content that aligns with our opinions and vales and that’s the root of a lot of controversy online (politics, for one example). What we share on social media largely reflects who we are and what we stand for, which I think has resulted in a wedge being driven between members of society.
Another consequence of the emergence of social media is its potential psychological effects. With Instagram being one of the most popular social media platforms, it carries larger weight in relation to the mental health of its users. A number of celebrities and models utilize Instagram more than any other platform, and this is where the problem lies. When a celebrity posts pictures of themselves or their lifestyle, society often takes that as a standard that we must meet, although it is unrealistic for many people. On the other hand, cyberbullying has increased in recent years as social media has skyrocketed. According to Enough is Enough, a nonprofit geared towards cyberbullying, 71% of young adults are concerned about cyberbullying and 54% of teens in 2014 witnessed online bullying. Social media has no doubt played a role in the mental health of its users and should continue to do so as long as its popularity rise.
From a business standpoint, social media has numerous advantages and will be implemented more and more in the future by small businesses. Nonetheless, social media has also impacted the way we live our lives and not always for the better. Technology as a whole is an ever-changing phenomenon, and it’s important for us to keep up with it as it continues to evolve. However, we must be smart with how we use technology and social media to be sure to experience all of its benefits, professionally and personally.