The pros and cons of social media



Opinion columnist Sam King discusses positive aspects of social media amidst the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.

SAM KING, Opinion Columnist

So, if you’re like me, you’re probably tired of the Facebook doom and gloom blasting through the news cycle.

It has gotten so bad that every major media news source is spewing dozens of articles about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the dangers of social media. It’s getting a little depressing, if you ask me.

That’s why I decided to talk about the good things that social media can do. Sure, there are problems.

Everything has problems and social media is no exception. That’s why I feel like it’s necessary to write about some of the positives of social media.

The first, most immediate benefit to social media is the ability to communicate and connect with people all over the world. Social media has greatly influenced the internet in terms of communicating and connecting with people.

The concept of being able to forge meaningful friendships with people across the globe without ever meeting them face to face is amazing.

This concept would seem like a fantasy to most people just 30 years ago. Now we’re able to instantly message people with a few clicks.

Secondly, social media is a fantastic new alert system (Forbes). In a world that is so constantly connected, it’s important that people stay aware of any breaking news or events that may impact their lives.

If a natural disaster strikes a long-distance family member’s home city, you’ll likely want to know that as soon as possible.

Social media can help keep us “in the loop.” It also allows normal people to communicate important information across the web at a near instant rate. The speed at which information can spread is an amazing benefit.

A third benefit of  social media is that it can be fun (Social Networking). That’s one of the biggest reasons why people have Twitter or Facebook, or their platform of choice. It’s fun to find and talk with people that have the same interests as you.

There’s social media games, groups, memes and original content that can all be accessed through the various social platforms. Most of this content is supposed to be entertaining.

Without social media, it would be a lot harder to access much of this content and surely some of it wouldn’t exist at all.

Of course, there are negative sides to social media. Just as news can be quickly shared and spread, false news can also be shared at a rapid rate. Still, I think most of the pros outweigh the cons.

It’s easy to point out some of the big problems and say that social media is “evil.” To be fair, negative news spreads really well. It’s rare to see any kind of news sources talking about good news. That also means bad news is going to spread through social media pretty quickly, too.

Admittedly, in my experience, I’ve seen good news spread through social media too. I find much more positivity there than I do from a standard news source. It’s possible that I may happen to follow the right people, but this does give me hope for social media.

As with most new technology, there are going to be some growing pains at first. All throughout history there are examples of this.

In advent of the printing press, people thought the new invention was evil (Techdirt). Six centuries later, we know how much the printing press benefited society, but back when it first had been invented, the new technology was severely misunderstood. 

Social media is still relatively new. Facebook was first invented in 2004, only 14 years ago. Twitter was created in 2006, only 12 years ago. It takes time to properly understand new technology.

Properly understanding social media and putting appropriate expectations on the services is key. This is something I feel like most younger generations understand. While we are certainly the biggest partakers in this new media, we also understand these platforms the most. Anyone who uses something enough will eventually come to understand it.

Without that, it’s very easy to grow cynical about this new breed of media. Sure, there are problems and sometimes technology is abused; however, that doesn’t make it “evil” or “bad.”

The intentions of some users can certainly be bad, yet that does not make social media itself inherently bad.

Please try to remember that technology cannot possess any form of morality. It’s up to the user to decide what to do with the technology.

That’s why it’s important to focus on the good and the bad a service or product offers — not just the bad.