Social media and is a fantastic way to get people to express themselves. Whether it it be via a Facebook status, writing on walls, Twitter updates, photos you share, these are all extensions of you and your personality. They help portray your interests, your views and help show people who you are. They offer a platform for you to be yourself, to be creative, to be who you want to be and most importantly, have an audience for all of this.
Unlike in the real world, where social etiquette and manners can sometimes seem restrictive and limiting , people feel they have a greater sense of freedom of expression and/or of speech when using online networks. Of course, content is monitored and can be removed, but with millions of users on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, even YouTube, not every single status, photo or comment can be watched, evaluated and completely controlled. This has arguably lead to a rise in expressions, feelings and ideas from people who may otherwise find it hard to portray themselves how they would like in person and face-to-face with others.
Essentially, social media has changed the way we are able to communicate and behave, not only in groups and society, but with each other.
What are the possible consequences of this new found, or at least newly perceived, freedom of expression?
For people who find it difficult to interact with others in person, the Internet gives them a great way of communicating and not having to feel self conscious or nervous. Everyone has a the right to say what they think and feel and so this is a good way for those less confident to make their stand. It provides a level playing field if you like. When someone feels happy and comfortable, they can express themselves more eloquently and possibly even gain themselves a wide audience which they may otherwise have found difficult to achieve. Why stand in front of hundreds of people and talk if you find that hard, when you can sit at home behind a screen and write about your topics and still get the audience?
Whether it is personal or business, such as marketing, you can get your news and views out there. Arguably, it is just as, or even more effective, than a conference room. The power of the re-tweet or Like buttons should not be scowled at. This means that the story or a view of a shy individual can reach a larger audience than it might if they were stood up in front if you making this type of media particularly effective.
Social media can help you be your self and invoke confidence to those who need it. This is because you are not having to face personal and intimate criticism or nerves because you do not have to see anyone who may be critical about you. Written comments can inspire healthy debate as you have time to compose yourself, whereas, people criticising you in person can be difficult, cause you to panic and cause you to be defensive. Everyone deserves to have confidence in themselves and their beliefs, and networking can help inspire and educate people in this.
This level of freedom does has its draw backs.
People with more fundamental or perhaps morally questionable views than your average Joe can cause stirs and discomfort. Now, people have the right to believe in what they want but when they express these more extreme views, or attack other people (sexism, racism for example), that offense can be taken and problems begin.
For Example, the man behind the recent attacks in Norway used Twitter to send out his views on the world before he carried out the attacks. Maybe more regulation is needed to help police more extreme views,
A Twitter account attributed to the suspect has also emerged but it only has one post, which is a quote from philosopher John Stuart Mill: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests."-Courtesy of BBC News Online
Maybe stricter online control and regulations would help alert the authorities in some cases? There is no way to know and it's a very grey area to cover. There may not even be a right or wrong answer to this question.
On a personal aspect, social media can be used for internet bullying and victimising. It gives people the opportunity to upset and gossip 24/7. Online bullying is a serious problem and should not be over looked or dismissed. The victims of bullying at school for example, like to go home and escape, not sign into their computer to be faced with more endless hurtful words.
A Rock And A Hard Place
Social media is a gift. It can be used to make or break a business. It can also make or break a person. The truth is, the moral problems about freedom and expression in real life, can now be applied to the virtual world. Whether we like it or not, or even agree with it, it's liberal enough to be good for people to express themselves and find themselves. It's also liberal enough to provide a soap box for less appropriate beliefs.
~BBC News quote: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14259989
Today’s world is a global village. Everyone is connected to one another in this vast network generated by the Internet. As said by Marshall McLuhan, a philosopher of communication theory, “The new electronic independence re-creates the world in the image of a global village.” This electronic independence is inherently dependent upon the Internet. It illuminates the lives of thousands of people by spreading knowledge internationally, thereby making us global citizens.
In the past, the communicating and free sharing of thoughts among people were restricted by long distance, nationality and/or religion. But now, even these barriers cannot stop the flow of information and knowledge. The new world of social networking allows free sharing of thoughts. Online social networks are created by websites such as Facebook, which has emerged as a giant in this social world. So how do these networks affect our education? How do they influence the lives of students?
Humans are social animals. We always like to remain in some group or another, and we prefer to follow what this group does. All of our traditions and cultures are the product of this group-oriented facet of human nature. A well-known American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, stated in his “Theory of Motivation” that the social need of human beings is the third most important requirement after our physical and safety needs — the third tier in his hierarchy of needs. Even our self-esteem comes after this social dependence. This is the main reason billions of people use social networking to stay connected, make friends and satisfy their social needs.
As of 2015 the world’s largest social networking company, Facebook, has 1.49 billion active users, and the number of users is increasing every year. One of the most interesting things to look at is the increasing number of student users on such social networking sites. As per the survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 72 percent of high school and 78 percent of college students spend time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. These numbers indicate how much the student community is involved in this virtual world of social networking.
Actually, many reasons exist that explain why students love to spend time socializing. Firstly, social networks provide them the freedom to do whatever they want — to upload what they want and talk to whom they want. They like to make new friends and comment on the lives of different people. Students can create other online identities that the real world does not allow. The freedom it gives them to act just by sitting in front of a computer enthralls them, and they then demand for more freedom. Never before has it been so easy for young minds to create a digital image of their actions through such a spontaneous medium.
But this has a darker side that has gained the attention of many parents, and even eminent psychologists, all over the world. One of the biggest problems is the identity crisis constant social networking produces. As said by Professor S. Shyam Sunder, a renowned researcher at Penn State, “The types of actions users take and the kinds of information they are adding to their profiles are a reflection of their identities.”
Many psychologists are worried about the identity crisis that our present generation may face today. The lives of people, especially students, are largely influenced by what is posted by other people on their profiles. The habits that students learn are decided more by what their friends do and less by the teachings of parents or professors.
Our students have become prone to frequent fluctuations in mood and self-control. If one of a student’s friends posted about his or her present relationship with someone, then other friends are pressed to do the same thing. Actions that attract more public attention hold more value, even despite some of them being immoral or illegal. We even see that many students are worried about their looks, and so they always try to upload nicer pictures than their friends. A recent survey has stated that whenever someone uploads a profile picture, it immediately affects the moods of friends. It often produces stress, anxiety or fear about their identities as people. Consistently thinking in this way can sometimes lead to depression.
The most important things in a student’s life are studying, learning good habits and gaining knowledge to become a person with moral character. But today, as we see in various studies, this optimal learning process is seriously jeopardized by students becoming entrapped by the ploys of social networking. Students neglect their studies by spending time on social networking websites rather than studying or interacting with people in person. Actively and frequently participating in social networking can negatively affect their grades or hamper their journeys to their future careers.
Getting too involved in social media can lead to an addiction that inculcates bad habits. Students prefer to chat with friends for hours, and this leads to a waste of time that could have been used for studying, playing or learning new skills. It is often said that a long-term friendship or relationship is developed when people meet each other, spend time and share their experiences. But this virtual way of communicating with each other does not lead to a natural, friendly experience and hence cannot produce a healthy relationship with those friends. Also, these relationships tend to terminate easily due to a lack of personal contact.
The system generates a competition to make as many new friends as possible and the so-called “social quotient” of a person is decided by how many friends they have and not on how good-natured and congenial the person really is. Often, students who are not old enough to accurately analyze the world “like” or comment on social or political issues, and this leads sometimes to serious controversies.
Considering all of the above pros and cons, it is necessary to develop certain regulations over the use of such social networking sites, especially for high school and college students. But still, students should get the choice to spend time socializing in an effective way. It should not hamper their school or college performance, and it should be kept in mind that social networking sites create virtual worlds that drastically differ from reality. Students should develop the cognitive and intuitive ability to analyze how much time they want to spend on social media. It is left up to the students to decide what really matters in their life and how much of this virtual life translates to real life.