The Impact of Social Media

Today I wanted to discuss a topic that sprung up in my mind while I was scrolling through Facebook this past weekend: the impact that social media plays in our day-to-day lives. Originally what sparked my thoughts was an article written about courtesy when it comes to death. The article basically discussed how it seems as if an immediate knee-jerk reaction to death of the majority of social media users is to post it on Facebook. I’ve personally always thought of social media as a beneficial thing to society- it helps us stay in touch with people we probably wouldn’t still be connected with otherwise, and it helps us stay informed about things that are happening that we otherwise may not be exposed to. However, I want to branch away from this for a second, and also branch away from the idea that digital interactions help us be better, more informed citizens- I want to focus on the ways that social media has negatively impacted us as humans in society, and how we can go about preventing that.

The death example is just one of many ways that social media has pulled us backwards. This is a pretty controversial topic on Facebook, but it seems as if everyone who has a Facebook account is able to be their own type of journalist, in a way. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants their opinion to be heard. Am I saying that everyone needs to just shut up on social media and not express their opinions? Of course not! I just feel as if nobody else sees that there is a crazy number of people who read one little Buzzfeed article on- say, the election, for example- and suddenly they’re self-proclaimed politicians. It frustrates me to see that people don’t realize there are numerous false stories, and it is so incredibly easy to be swayed to believe something simply because of a convincing article.

 

So here’s what I propose: do your research, people! There’s nothing I can’t stand more than ignorant people who make quick decisions on which side to be on just by seeing an article they “found on Facebook.” If you want to post your opinion on Facebook, more power to you! All I request is that we all do our research before writing up a rant on what we believe based on a story that may or may not be true.

 

Another thing that I can’t stand on Facebook- when two ignorant people (neither of whom actually have knowledge on the subject) tear each other up in public on social media. Hasn’t anyone heard of the saying “if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all”?! I guess now I’m rambling, and that goes into more of a topic of cyberbullying. However, my only wish is that people who haven’t done research on a particular topic stay quiet, and only speak when you have enough correct information and background knowledge to back up your argument. Is that too much to ask?

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Why Millennials Aren’t Staying Informed

In class last week, we discussed how mobile news, when compared to computer news, has several limitations to helping the general public stay informed when it comes to keeping up to date with what’s going on in the country as well as in the world. I thought it would be interesting today to talk about how that is most certainly true in the world of millennials, specifically college students, from my perspective- that of a college student.

For me personally, I know I do a terrible job of keeping informed with what’s going on outside of my own little bubble. I could tell you what fashion trends are hot, what social events are coming up, and what assignment deadlines are approaching, but (and I am most certainly ashamed to say this) I probably couldn’t tell you a single thing about politics or world affairs. It’s terrible, I know.

In my defense, however, you can’t really blame me. How am I supposed to know what’s going on if nobody tells me, right? We all know that college students are on their phones 24/7- there’s no doubt about it. You would think that because we always have a constant connection to the World Wide Web, we would also always be aware of what’s going on. Not true! When I get onto social media, I pretty much only look at things that are easily available for me- whether that be on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The things that I am exposed to are solely the people that I choose to follow, which includes a few celebrities and my friends. I never bother to check CNN or any other news channel for that matter.

So here’s what I think: why not make news readily available to all cellphone users? I can speak for most of my friends and myself when I say this- if you were to force me to follow news networks, most likely I would be too lazy to hit that unfollow button. We are all so programmed to just get on social media and do the usual routine- scroll, scroll, like a post, scroll, scroll… To make this a little more clear- when you first create an account with Instagram, you are by default following the official Instagram account. So here’s what I’m proposing: why not just have all social media users follow news accounts by default? This would increase the reach of news outlets exponentially, and essentially force people to be exposed to the news.

Now, I’m not saying this is the end all be all, but it’s a step in the right direction. The problem of millennials not staying informed about issues in the world is a huge one, and something needs to be done about it.

The Deal with the Algorithms

Last week in class, we discussed how search engines like Google basically customize what comes up in your searches based on previous searches and browsing history. This reminded me of something I’ve been hearing a lot lately on Youtube, so that’s what I want to talk about today!

It’s pretty crazy to think that every single action made on the Internet is recorded and stored to tailor each and every one of our web pages. The first time that I had ever noticed this was when one time, I was searching on Nordstrom for a pair of Uggs (this was back in middle school) and then I hopped over to Facebook and lo & behold- on the sidebar of my Facebook feed were images of the same exact Uggs I had been looking at. 13-year old me who watched way too many thrillers & horror movies suspected that someone had been spying on me- or maybe it was a Big Brother type of situation.

Obviously, as I grew up, I was able to assume that it wasn’t a creepy spy sort of situation, but I had never exactly understood how that happened. A few months ago, Instagram also started a similar trend, where it would rearrange the order of what you see, based on what Instagram thinks you want to see. Same with Youtube- the platform only promotes certain videos based on the algorithm for deciding what it thinks people will want to see.

I’ll admit- sometimes when I’m sitting on social media & brainlessly scrolling through, sure, I appreciate that it takes me to similar pages/posts. With that said, however, why can’t I pick what I want to see rather than have a computer pick it for me?

I guess maybe that’s partly the non-tech-savvy part of me that makes me think this way, but it seems as if technology (the Internet) is able to totally manipulate our minds to tell us what to see, and when to see it.

When tied back to our classroom example of each student googling “Donald Trump,” we all got so many different results. But what if I’m a conservative (who therefore probably reads more conservative articles) and want to see a liberal perspective? I think I deserve to choose what I read and what I don’t read- don’t you?

The Ignorance of Millennials + Initial Thoughts

With today’s available technology & easy access to information, one would think that keeping up with current events should be incredibly simple & widespread. However, as a 20-something in college, it is unbelievable the amount of ignorance that can be seen in today’s young adults (myself included.)

I grew up with parents who always kept up with the news- whether it be domestic or international news, as both of my parents are first-generation immigrants. My mom has always urged (and nagged) me to keep up with what’s happening in the world- whether it be in technology, politics, or economics. However, I was never truly interested, and didn’t understand the purpose behind staying current with what’s happening the world. Who cares?

I’ll admit, I’m still not as informed as I should be, but I’ve definitely exposed myself to leaps and bounds more than what I had before. And it’s all thanks to the emergence of social media.

Time and time again, I’ve shown up to school and a professor begins lecturing about something that happened in the world that’s considered to be “big news,” and I would end up having to quickly google it on my phone to try and pretend as if I knew what he or she was talking about.

Social media’s a funny thing, especially when looking at how it’s used in the age demographic of millennials. It seems as if every day there is a new slang word, or a new viral video that everyone’s talking about. But the interesting this is, the news that’s shared on a lot of social media is selective.

As a person who almost always has my phone glued to my side, I consider myself to be an extremely active user of social media, and therefore see almost everything that my peers post on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. While a “big news event” such as the election of President Trump would make it onto my feed, several events in society aren’t talked about and shared nearly as much.

This is what I want to learn about, and encourage my peers to look into as well. After years and years of my parents urging me to be more informed about current news, I finally understand how helpful and important it is to know what’s going on around me. Social media is such an incredible tool, and information is spread so incredibly quickly through social media. So why are there so many ignorant millennials who stay uninformed about subjects like politics and world affairs, but seem to be completely knowledgable about the latest Kardashian news or what celebrity couple split up?

Until next time!