Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Gab, Instagram, Reddit, Disqus, YouTube, and Tumblr are just a few of the most popular social media sites and apps available to us. A user can post their thoughts, opinions, pictures, and more for the whole world to see with just a few taps of their fingers. Never before has such accessibility to others been possible for the average person. In many ways this is a very good thing. Yet, it seems that with every good thing man conceives, something negative isn’t too far behind. The following are my opinions on both the good and the bad of social media.
During the recent wildfires in California, veteran actor James Woods used his massive following on Twitter to help people displaced by the fires find temporary homes for their animals, such as horses. He also used his following to aid in the effort of locating missing persons. His actions during this time are an excellent example of the good that can come from social media. The ability to be instantly connected with millions of people all over the world really shines during times of emergency or great need. In my opinion this is the biggest upside of social media.
I recently became aware of an infant girl who is struggling with cancer. Her parents have been having trouble keeping up with the expenses of her treatment and the extensive travel involved. One of my favorite YouTube channels, EssentialCraftsman, put the word out regarding this family’s plight and their efforts on GoFundMe to raise enough money to meet their financial demands. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have known anything about the trouble they were going through or how I could help them. Thanks to the EssentialCraftsman channel giving their GoFundMe campaign a shout out, those two parents have been able to raise the money they needed in order to keep helping their daughter survive. That is some glorious good right there! However, without YouTube, what the EssentialCraftsman did wouldn’t have been possible.
Back in late 2018 the home of Fox News personality Tucker Carlson was accosted by a large mob of unhappy individuals. Tucker’s wife was home alone while the mob shouted obscenities and made threats against her, Tucker, and their home. Their home address had been spread around using social media with the goal of accumulating outside to verbally harass the Carlson’s over a mere difference of opinion. Things such as this are a blemish on the face of social media.
Snapchat is a popular site for today’s youth to gather and interact through the use of instant messages and pictures. Due to its extensive use of pictures, the private messaging, the young users, and the over-sexualization that is prevalent in our society, one thing was bound to happen. It has developed into a hotbed of sexual predators. The creators of the site are aware of the problem and actively combat it. However, like many other social media sites, they often don’t know of a predator until he/she is reported by other users. This kind of use can certainly darken the influence of social media in our lives.
Twitter has recently been under fire for what appears to be deliberate attempts to silence conservative thinkers. Numerous popular, influential right-leaning political commenters have found themselves either suspended or blocked from the site. They are typically told that they were somehow in violation of Twitter’s standards of conduct. Yet, many liberal commenters behave in the same exact way the conservative ones do and have not been blocked or suspended. Influential liberal thinkers on the site have even made outright racist or anti-Semitic comments despite that type of rhetoric being deemed unacceptable by Twitter’s standards of conduct. Applying the rules of a particular social media sight to one group, but not another, is not uncommon. Facebook has also taken heat for kicking conservative groups off the site for doing the same thing that liberal groups do. Politically biased management is a black-eye for these social media sites.
Social media sites can be a great blessing to all who use them. Whether it is getting help to those in need, sharing laughter, or finding information, these types of sites can be a wonderful asset. Where there is light there is darkness however, and the dark side of social media can be black as night. The spread of hate, prejudice, and evil can all be accelerated by social media. However, nothing good or bad is inherent in the concept of social media sites. The idea of instant communication is useful and practical. What decides whether social media is good or bad are the people who use it. Why? Because it is the people who use it that decide what it will be used for.
What are your thoughts on social media? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section.