Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat – all of them connect individuals through a small device. They provide their users with a new perspective of the world, a world that can be easily accessed through a phone or a PC. But what lies within social media besides all the cupcakes and rainbows?
From letters to free messaging, social media has seen a huge evolution. Social media first started out as postal services, which date back to 550 B.C., and continued growing into a more wide-spread system. Later on came Telegraphs in 1792, the pneumatic post in 1865, the telephone in 1890 and the radio in 1891. The latter two are still present today but they have experienced many changes throughout the course of time. Social media, as well as technology in general, experienced a very rapid change in the previous century (20th century), the century in which the Internet was born. Services like Internet Relay Chats (IRCs) (1988) and Six Degrees in (1997) started to gain popularity. Six Degrees is the first known modern online social media platform. From that point forth, blogging became popular and more social media platforms started to be created, each one better the last, creating a global space where individuals can communicate with persons all around the globe. Social media, in just a few decades, practically took over the world.
With all its pros, social media beholds a lot of cons. When not used wisely, social media can lead to addictions, accidents, injuries, and even death. I know I’m not saying anything you’ve never heard before, but it’s important to recognise what a 3 decade old concept can do to society as a whole as well as to individuals.
Two main negative effects of social media include:
Unfortunately, the Internet has made bullying possible not only on a face-to-face level but even through a screen. It creates an open door for bullies to enter their victims’ lives as well as the victims’ health (physical and mental). A misconception that is usually said about cyberbullying is that only children or teenagers are victims of it. This is not the case. Adults get bullied online by colleagues, friends, and even from strangers, as is the case for young people. Therefore, be careful with who you communicate with online.
- Fake Information
Hoaxes, fake news, rumours, fake products – all this fake information can be easily spread on the Internet and, unfortunately, people quickly believe it. This is a huge problem that we are facing today. Many people are victims of these virtual snares, snares we meet with almost everyday while scrolling through our news feeds. Always fact check whatever comes up on your social media wall because every single piece of this information is made to be believable and unsuspected as possible. Nowadays (I am in no way generalising), people are very gullible and are quick to believe whatever piece of information they see in front of them. So remember, always fact check.
Like everything, social media has a bright side. As said before, social media has connected the world together in a way that still amazes many today and in a way that no one could imagine a 100 years ago. Here are two main positive effects of social media:
Online, one can access all type of information that can help him/her discover new things, broadening one’s knowledge about all sorts of subjects. The Internet is a place from where students can gain material for projects, for example. Online educational courses are becoming very popular nowadays. The Internet, therefore, is a virtual library of never-ending books and information.
As said before, the Internet connects everyone together. Thanks to the Internet, a web of connectivity is created between people in different regions, countries and continents. Thanks to the Internet, the concept of globalisation has grew stronger.
Again, I am sure everything you have just read isn’t something you haven’t heard before. So in conclusion, this article was not written to stop you from using social media. The main goal of the article was to raise awareness about the risks of social media today and to help you, the reader, to use it wisely, while also reminding you how it can be used positively. Stay safe online.
Written by: Bradley Cachia