Social Media: Friend or foe?

Social media is a double-edged sword. It enhances communication, and creates convenient and efficient mass-marketing and promotional methods. Communication can be constant and news becomes instantaneous. With social media, people can always know what is going on in the world. Just this past weekend news of Whitney Houston’s death broke out on twitter 27 minutes before the mainstream media, according to mashable.

Yet social media also offers an easy alternative to in-person communication. Reporters used to go out and find sources. They stuck their noses into other people’s business. Now, we email potential sources, tweet at them, or send them facebook messages. Perhaps it makes communication easier, or perhaps it does the opposite. What happens when we actually have to go interview that person?

And personal relationships with family, friends, and significant others are affected too. I’ve heard plenty of stories about people breaking up over Facebook chat, and kids being tormented by cyber-bullies. Through social media, however, I’ve also been able keep in touch with a German-exchange student I met in high school, and talk to my family and friends on a daily basis, despite being apart.

Socialnomics shows this in its Valentine’s Day video. Through Groupon, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets ‘Zack’ pulls off a Valentine’s Day miracle, only to end up breaking up with ‘Rachel’ after she tells him she loves him. What saved their relationship, is also what destroyed it.

Sometimes messages are misunderstood. Without context, people can tweet something misinformed, or people may read a message without understanding its true meaning. You can’t imitate tone or body language.

It can also ruin a reputation. A Chrysler social media employee swore in tweets about Detroit (while the company was beginning its “Imported from Detroit” campaign) , costing him his job, and Chrysler a great deal of criticism. New York politician Anthony Weiner damaged his career as well when he tweeted a picture of his private parts back in May 2011 – also known as the Weinergate scandal.

Social media is what you make of it. It can create fame. Take, Sophia Grace & Rosie, for example. The YouTube video of them rapping Nicki Minaj’s  ‘Super Bass’ has over 30 million hits, and now they’ve appeared on The Ellen Show multiple times, and even walked the red carpet for the Grammys.

There is no way to be sure if social media will be successful for each individual situation; however, you can be careful with it. The ‘send’ button is a gift: use it! While talking in person creates incredible conversations that could never be engineered through a Facebook post, social media gives you the ability to edit. Rather than saying what’s on your mind, you can type it out, look it over, change the wording, and finally hit send.

One click could make or break you.

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5 responses to “Social Media: Friend or foe?

  1. So true, even though I’m a journalism major and by default have to embrace social media, (not that I don’t love it, I promise I do) I sometimes feel like it’s all just too much. Yeah it’s important to keep up with what’s going on in the world, but it’s also important to do things like, I don’t know, go outside, shut down your computer, interact with other human beings. I am just as guilty of spending way to much time online as the next social media junkie, but I really think that sometimes enough is enough.

  2. Like you said, “social media is what you make of it.” Even if you aren’t a journalist or celebrity, you have to be careful about what you are putting online. Schools are even trying to discipline students for what they do online outside of campus. If you learn how to use social media properly and pay close attention to what you are doing, it can really benefit you in the long run. But I don’t think a lot of people realize how powerful social media really is, which is why we keep seeing scandals involving it.
    I also agree with Kelsey that social media can be overwhelming at times. As journalism students, there are so many sites that we have to get involved in and learn how to use, even if we don’t want to.

  3. Wow. This is a super great post. Teachers and professors are always telling all my classes to be careful, but seeing that whole video really makes you understand just how fast things can happen. Very cool and thanks for sharing! I think Brianna and Kelsey are very right, it’s important to live in the real world and not just interact with people through your computer screen.

  4. I agree as well. My family (especially my grandma) always gives me and my sister a hard time about our generations social skills. I don’t think she goes a day without complaining about our texting, e-mailing, facebook-ing etc. She insists that we all have no idea how to talk to people face to face or even on the phone. And as much as I don’t see that in myself I see it in my peers. When was the last time you talked to your best friend on the phone for hours like we used to do in elementary school? Or when was the last time you called your crush to flirt rather than sending a text with a winky face? 😉

  5. Katie, so true! I was just thinking today how I had half an hour of time to pass, and instead of reading a book, talking to a friend, or doing something productive, I sat on pinterest and twitter. Social interactions are changing fast and it’s definitely something to think about!

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