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The New Light of Social Media: Is Communication Getting Better?

Delia Charles, Reporter

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Social Media is a rapidly growing platform that is beginning to take over the old fashioned ways of communicating. Most letters have been replaced with emails and our way of receiving the news is no longer through a newspaper, but rather through social media networks such as Twitter or YouTube. It has also become a very popular way to meet new people, chat with others and learn new things. As a matter of fact, according to statista.com, a site dedicated to collecting reliable statistics, around one-third of Earth’s entire population has a social networking account and around 60% of the entire United States population has at least one account as well. These popular platforms create an easy and effective way to interact with other people around the world as well as a more open way to share new ideas and learn new information. But how has this new method of worldwide communication improved upon the ancient systems that we were so used to?

We no longer require homes, offices, or cafes to stay in touch with people; we can do it wherever we happen to be.”

— Barry Wellman

Well, to begin with, social media provides us with the ability to communicate with others from anywhere, at any time which is very beneficial. As Barry Wellman, a sociologist and the director of NetLab at the University of Toronto, explains, “We no longer require homes, offices, or cafes to stay in touch with people; we can do it wherever we happen to be.” It allows us to instantaneously send messages to whomever we may need no matter the time or place, all that is needed is an internet connection. This reason alone clearly shows how communication has become easier and more efficient after the creation of social media. However, some people may say that we could do this already, and that cell phones and letters are enough to talk with others or that we do not need social media to communicate effectively and efficiently. While this is true to an extent, social media sites such as Twitter and other message boards provide us with the capability to have multiple people to contribute to a discussion at the same time, as well as allowing other people from around the world to contribute to the conversation as well.  Besides, according to a study conducted by Adam Hartung, a business growth and organization professional, on Forbes.com, “Fewer people write letters, send bills or even pay bills via physical mail” than ever before. This is because the speed of sending physical mail is sluggish compared to the speed of social networking and why would you do something in a slow way when there is a faster way that is readily available at all times? Also, if there are any complications that the person you sent your mail to runs into then it is best if they can contact you immediately to resolve the issue, rather than having to wait another few days to get everything sorted out which makes the process much longer than it needs to be. But it is not only the ability to converse with others that has made social media such a popular platform.

Another major use for social media is the distribution of news and spreading information that can be openly and easily seen by the majority of the population. While your average news station may cover some large news stories on top of just your local news, social media provides you with some smaller stories and some more detail that you may not see otherwise. These extra details and smaller stories can keep you even more informed about the world around you than ever before and it gives you an opportunity to see a larger story from different angles and perspectives. As Monica Anderson stated in her article about how social media is reshaping the news, these viewpoints are most commonly shared around by other people some of which “cover the news themselves, by posting photos or videos of news events.” This also allows you to discuss the story or event with in real time in a way that is much simpler than calling or even sending mass texts with people that are interested in the same story. I have even experienced this myself in the summer of 2015 when there was rioting in Baltimore, Massachusetts. During that time, I may have never even known that was happening if I has not had Twitter and the community to inform me, but it really gave me a sense of what was going on since there were live videos from people there being broadcasted on the site and there were thousands of people talking about all of the things happening there. News channels even use social media and the things that the community provides on it to make their stories more detailed and it gives them more information and sources to work with.

Social media truly creates a new experience where you can see other people’s reactions and opinions on the situation as it happens which can give you the sensation of being there and connected with others. Although, some people say that this could also be achieved by just being with others in person and discussing it then and you don’t have to have an artificial sense of being connected. However, there is one major issue with this argument and that is the fact that you are not always with someone that wants to talk or has anything to say about a given topic.  But if you discuss something with a stranger online that you share a common interest with, there is a chance that you will become friends with them or at least just have a meaningful conversation. Which brings me to my next point about social media and it’s ability to unite people with common interests.

Facebook users send an average of 31.25 million messages per minute”

— Matt Kapko

There is no doubt about it, social media is a place for conversation. According to Matt Kapko, a senior writer that specializes in social media, and there are even more people talking on websites like Twitter and dedicated social apps for chatting such as Kik or Line. While a lot of these people may be chatting with people that they already know, there is also a large percentage that may be meeting a new person online. Amanda Lenhart supports this statement in her article about how teens and their friendships through technology when she stated that “57% of teens have met a new friend online.” And 25% of these teenagers said that they met more than five new friends over social media. This is not only impressive because of the fact that it means that more people are becoming connected because of social media, but there is also a possibility that people are making friends from around the world, which is not something that you could do otherwise. Social media gives us the ability to meet new people from different parts of the world and learn about them and their cultures without having to worry about language or land barriers because of translators and the fact that it is available almost worldwide. Now, people say that social media is reducing the amount of face-to-face conversations that we have and people have fewer friends in real life because of these online friendships. But in reality, people still make friends in real life and keep in touch with them over the internet, whether it be over a social media site or any other online communities. Also, these online events and interactions do not prevent people from having something to talk about in real life. People talk about all sorts of topics including classes, situations at work and even a movie they watched or a game they played last night. Most of the time people enjoy talking about things right after they happened and you may see the person in real life before you see them online and you can tell them about your experience then.

But overall, social media is a very effective and easy way of communicating. And while it may have a few downsides, there are plenty of benefits to make up for it and it eliminates quite a few of the problems that we had before it existed. Besides, social media is constantly updating and changing to meet people’s needs and it becomes better and more helpful as time goes on. However, it is difficult to achieve this goal of a perfect platform when people do not understand what social media truly is and the benefits that it provides and can provide with enough input from the community. This is why I would encourage people to look at the platform with an optimistic point of view. It is very difficult to be innovative and improve upon an inefficient and outdated activity if people do not allow the improvements to happen and help them along.

Has Social Media Helped or Hurt Communication?

  • I think it's helped communication. (75%, 3 Votes)
  • I think it's hurt communication. (25%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 4

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The New Light of Social Media: Is Communication Getting Better?