In the last fifteen years, the prevalence of social media in our daily lives has increased steadily. With the rise of meme culture and short viral videos, the average person uses social media on a daily basis for entertainment and to connect with their friends and family. However, there are downsides of social media that make the experience unpleasant to some users as it negatively impacts their self-image due to the pressure to display an exciting life, or perhaps they may encounter bothersome internet trolls.
Ultimately, however, social media should still be viewed as platforms for social networking as inherently, that is why it was created, and by that very fact, it outweighs the negative effects that arise from its usage.
Social media, by virtue, is for connecting with others. Its invention was revolutionary now anyone can connect with anybody from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. It can help family members who live on opposite ends of the world reconnect, as well as help schoolmates stay in touch.
In Text A, the author acknowledges that social interaction is ‘a healthy and necessary part of human existence’. Social media helps to enable these interactions through their chat-functions, allowing for better connectivity. In addition, many socio-political movements, such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter also originated on Twitter and spread to other platforms, which brought to light the horrors of sexual harassment and police brutality. Social media platforms help to improve the political awareness of its users across the globe.
They are therefore useful in connecting users through relationships and common knowledge.
On the other hand, the growing influence of social media in today’s age has brought about several hard-to-ignore issues as well. As much as social media is making communication online easier, studies have found that it has hindered face-to-face interactions. In addition, there is pressure on visual-laden sites such as Instagram to display the perfect life that consists of going out with friends on a regular basis, fancy dishes at fancy restaurants, scenic landscapes, and anything that would let other users assume that one is living the best life. This can lead to envy amongst friends and the lowering of self-esteems as some people will feel as if they are missing out just because their life is not as seemingly glamorous. Moreover, even though social media facilitates communication, it has impacted the quality of face-to-face interactions. Texting combines the benefit of planning what one can say before sending it and the speed of speech, but when meeting a person, the same advantage of planning is not afforded and their reliance on texting to communicate may affect their ability to hold a conversation. A study done by the University of Michigan concludes “Rather than enhancing well-being … Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.”
After looking at the pluses and minuses that social media brings us, the answer to whether it is a virtue or vice boils down to the individual user. Each user has a different experience using social media. Of course, a user that has an eating disorder, for instance, would find that countless Instagram photos of fit models will make them feel even worse. On the other hand, the Instagram models may feel that posting photos of themselves after a workout boosts their confidence, and it is not their fault that they are impacting the self-esteem of a stranger. The basis of social media is to provide people with a free and independent method to share ideas and media. Problems only arise when individuals abuse the platform, become addicted to them, or compare their profiles and by extension, their lives to other users’. That, however, is not the fault of the platform itself, but the user, whose self-worth revolves around social media
In conclusion, social media’s main purpose is as a platform for communication and should not be blamed fully for our modern problems. Although it may make the existing mental and self-esteem issues of users worse, the users have the autonomy to seek help or delete the applications if necessary in order to help themselves and prevent further deterioration and suffering.