The Beauty and the Beast of Social Media

on March 2015 | in Technology | by Lina Muasher | with No Comments

“If you build it; like it, pin it, share it, tweet it…they will come,” says Kristie Hill, creator and founder of Blog Ambitions. Imagine a world where you can connect with people in any country, any time with a simple social profile. The online world is at our fingertips as social media continues to take the globe by storm. With a multitude of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest, connecting has never been easier.

Facebook is by far the most used social media website, as it drives the most referrals. Teenagers and young adults are not the only ones making use of the social world. Surprisingly, according to Belle Cooper, content crafter at Buffer and co-founder of Exist, the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is 55-64 years old, #seniorsrock. That pound sign, is better known as a ‘hashtag’, a trend used to group similar content. A scientific and marketing tactic of Facebook and Twitter is the colour blue as both social media giants use it because of its relaxing effect. The more relaxed and calm you are, the more likely you are to engage. With five million photos uploaded daily, Instagram is the leading social platform strictly for posting photos. With its recent expansions to video and private messaging, social media users are loving this photographic outlet.

Many of these applications have changed the English language as we know it. Words that were once considered slang such as ‘selfie’, ‘hashtag’ and ‘duck-face’ are now officially part of the English dictionary. The definition of ‘duck-face’ for instance, is hysterical. Oxford Dictionary defines it as an “exaggerated pouting expression in which the lips are thrust outwards, typically made by a person posing for a photograph.” I could not help but chuckle to myself as I read this. I recalled all the pictures I have seen on Instagram with girls pouting their lips and quoting “kisses” as the caption. I must admit that I am guilty of the duck-face, maybe I like the way my cheek bones stand out. Whatever the reason is, social media allows people to freely express themselves.

Social media opens us up to a world of new and innovative ideas. With 80% of Pinterest users being women, it is the goto place for suggestive creative concepts. From the overall theme of an event to the fine details of the linens, Pinterest gives you an indefinite world of possibilities. As my best friend is preparing for her fall wedding, she has relied heavily on Pinterest as her means of finding the colour of her bridesmaid dresses, the colour and style of her bouquet, ideas for her centrepieces, fashionable hair styles for her big day and the look of the bowtie she anxiously hopes her fiancé will agree to wear.

Although social media adds a sense of humour and amusement to our lives, it is also beneficial for hard news. Instead of reading the local paper, we simply choose to ‘follow’ the newspaper on Twitter and receive quick and informative updates in 140 characters or less. Within minutes, I knew what was happening in the Middle East by following a few prestigious newspapers on Twitter. I did not have to read every single detail through a long article. Of course, I enjoy reading the details when I have the time, but when time is of the essence, social media allows for quick and to the point news.

Looking for a job? Social media can help there as well. LinkedIn has over 3 million company pages with two new members joining every second. LinkedIn is the professional part of the online world. It allows you to ‘connect’ with people in your industry or people you hope to work for. As many of us have experienced, connections are imperative and can often lead to our dream jobs. LinkedIn allows you to make these connections as well as private message recruiters, head hunters or directly be in contact with the hiring manager of a particular company. It also allows you to read blogs and articles of topics that will peak your interest. I recently came across an article called “Why you should take a prospective employee for lunch before hiring them?” This immediately caught my interest and I could not help but discuss this non-traditional article with my colleagues.

“Social media doesn’t create negativity, it uncovers it,” says Jay Bayer, a social media content and strategist speaker. With every good, comes the bad. Social media is beneficial in many aspects, as described above. However, the negative stigma that comes with social media is not as false as we may perceive. Over and over again, I have heard young adults proclaim that social media ruins relationships, be it a romantic one or a friendship. How exactly can a technological platform affect relationships amongst humans? Social media does not create negativity, as the quote indicates, it simply reveals it. For instance, if you find yourself in an argument, you or the other person may post a quote or caption that is indirectly meant for the person you are arguing with. Although social media allows us to express ourselves freely, we must remember that nothing will ever replace human to human interactions. Social media takes away from direct communication with the people closest to us. Instead, we rely on a post or a status update to express how we feel. This not only takes away from direct communication, which essentially devalues our relationships, but also may expose our dirty laundry to the online world.

Privacy is virtually non-existent in social media. Many people refrain from social media because they feel exposed. For instance, imagine a young heterosexual couple in a relationship. The male may ‘like’ another female’s picture, causing his girlfriend to be upset. The feelings of jealousy, insecurity and doubt all surface, thus causing problematic situations in otherwise good relationship. Social media is not the direct cause of the issue, it only revealed the actions that took place.

Although social media is a powerful social tool, it also prevents young adults from engaging in person to person social situations. Nowadays, we can be ‘social’ while we are alone, all we need is our smart phone. Developing social skills and learning how to interact is a crucial part of a young adult’s life. Establishing and maintaining relationships, friendships, learning how to interact with colleagues or fellow classmates becomes increasingly difficult. Being social means to have to engage in face-to-face interactions, not only hiding behind an electronic device.

Like most hot topics, social media has its pros and cons. While millions of users enjoy it for personal interest, connecting with family and friends across the world and keeping up to date on the latest news and hottest trends, many businesses also use it as a form of selling, marketing and brand awareness. If used correctly, social media allows us to travel the world, visit everything known to man and chat with friends worldwide in a quick click of a button.

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