Chapters three and four of Socialnomics by Erik Qualman reminded me a lot about the power of social media.
Chapter three starts out by highlighting the point that sites like Facebook “allow people to take stock of their collective lives and what they’re doing throughout the day.” The book spins this as a positive thing, however I see it as a big negative. Yes, people aren’t comparing themselves to unreachable Reality TV stars like the Kardashians, but instead comparing themselves to their peers, which I think is more harmful. It is ridiculous to compare yourself to someone who has more money, help, and fame than you, but is it that ridiculous to compare yourself to one of your peers?Social Media creates the need to compare lives and can, in turn, create a low self esteem or influence people to tailor their social media to what their friends on Facebook want to hear or see. It can create a false sense of reality.
In addition to Social Media influencing social lives, it is also influencing communication skills. Apps like Facebook are eliminating the need for face-to-face communication. They can be nice because we get to keep up with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. who live halfway across the nation, but it can also be harmful. For example, I feel like I saw my aunt yesterday because I keep up with her photos and status updates on Facebook, but I really haven’t seen her in a year. Facebook hinders the personal and deep connection that we have with our peers. It takes our level of friendship from close friend or relative to acquaintance in real life.
Last, but certainly not least, politics. Everyone’s favorite topic. Social Media has played a huge role in politics ever since Obama’s landslide win due to Social Media in 2008. I do think that Social Media is a great way for candidates to get their videos and advertisements out, but I also think that it can be destructive. According to Pew Research Center, 30% of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook. That doesn’t seem like a lot until you consider that only 64% of U.S. adults are on Facebook. That’s almost half of the adults on Facebook. Links shared on Facebook are not always reliable, but a little under half of the users believe that they are. They are getting false news. Not to mention their friends’ opinion along with it. I will admit I’m guilty of basing my opinion off of my Facebook friends’ before researching the topic. However, I do research the topic. A lot of people don’t. Creating a whole Social-Media-centered world of uninformed voters.
Social Media is a powerful tool that we have at our disposal. It does have it’s benefits for sure, like Qualman highlighted for us. However, I also think it has it’s downsides, very few of which Qualman highlighted.