Social media has exploded in popularity over the past few years. A study conducted in 2011 showed that two thirds of American adults who go on the Internet use social media (The Huffington Post, 2011). The number of people who use social media has increased over the years. In 2004, just a little over a million people used Facebook (Yahoo, 2013). Fast forward nine years later, and now there are over a billion active Facebook users (Yahoo, 2013). In 2006, Twitter had just over 1,000 users and today there are over 218 million active users per month (Prontalinski, 2013)
Ever since I was a teenager, I have used some sort of social media. When I was in middle school, I used a Xanga site. I would spend hours on that site, writing posts about my life, seeing what everyone else had on their own sites, changing my background, putting songs that would repeat on the site whenever someone clicked on my page. A few years later, I upgraded to Myspace and added people into my “Top Ten” friends list, post entries about my life, added countdown tools to counting down to “important” dates like the end of the school year, my sixteenth birthday or a school dance. Eventually, I also got a Facebook when it became open to high school students. I was so confused by that site, and treated it like a Myspace. I remember when the word “is” was stuck in the status, and it limited what you could say. I remember that I would have poke wars with my friends, seeing who could poke each other the fastest. Facebook eventually killed my love of Myspace, and now I spend most of my time using Facebook. I also have a Twitter and LinkedIn, but find most of my time using Facebook.
There are many pros and cons to using social media . Social media is a great way to network yourself. You can connect with potential employers or job mentors almost instantly. Many employers are choosing to ditch the paper and become more “green” by accepting only online applications or LinkedIn profiles. For example, I have been applying for many jobs in my career path lately. Many of the websites give an option to apply right from your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to “sell yourself” to a potential employer, highlighting your best qualities, and many times, giving you more room to do so than a traditional resume. Social media is also a great way to connect with old friends you’ve lost touch with or family members or friends who far away. My best friend lives in Arizona and is getting married next year. I am going to be her maid of honor, and am helping her plan the wedding. Sites like Facebook and Pinterest have made it possible to for us to instantly share our ideas. Without social media, it would be a lot harder and more time consuming to plan a wedding long distance.
However, there are some drawbacks to social media. First, social media takes out the “personal” part of communication. Since everything is online, you do not get the same experience as you would having a face-to-face conversation. You also may misinterpret things during while communicating with someone on social media. You cannot interpret someone’s body language, or tone of voice while using social media, and sometimes those are the most important things involved in communication. Many people “over-share” things on social media. Nearly half of employers look up potential employees on Facebook before hiring them (Huffington Post, 2013). Thus, users must be careful what they post on social media—because many important people could be watching.
Social media provides another platform for bullying. Since social media is so open, and nearly anyone can create a Facebook or Twitter profile, those who choose to cyber bully can hide under a fake name, and continuously bully with sometimes very little consequences. This can be extremely toxic, especially to young teenagers. I remember when I was a teenager that image was everything, and I cared tremendously about the opinions of my peers. Being a teenager is an emotional, awkward, and very difficult time enough without bullying. Last month, a twelve year old committed suicide because she was constantly attacked on Facebook by her classmates for over a year. Even after her death, they posted horrible things on her Facebook wall suggesting they were glad she was dead and that they did not care about their involvement in the bullying that lead to her suicide.
Social media has grown so much over the past ten years. Now more than ever, people are using it to connect to one another, find jobs, share news, and so much more. Social media allows users to network themselves, and highlight their best qualities to get their dream job. It also allows provides instant feedback. However, social media takes out many personal aspects of communication, and replaces it with technological aspects. Many people also post inappropriate information on their social media pages. Finally, social media also provide a platform for bullying, causing harm to users, especially teenagers.
Number of Active Facebook Users over the years. (2013). In Yahoo News . Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://finance.yahoo.com/news/number-active-users-facebook-over-years-214600186–finance.html
The Growth of Social Media. (2011). In Huffington Post: Technology. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/growth-social-media infographic_n_945256.html
Staglin, D., & Welch, W. (2013). Two Young girls arrested on bullying charges after suicide. USA TODAY. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/15/florida-bullying-arrest-lakeland- suicide/2986079/
Prontalinski, E. (2013, October). Twitter sees 218m monthly active users, 163.5m monthly mobile users, 100m daily users, and 500m tweets per day. In TNW News . Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://thenextweb.com/twitter/2013/10/03/twitter-says-it-sees-215-million-monthly-active-users-100-million-daily-users-and-500-million-tweets-per-day/