Is Social Media the Enemy?
The argument of whether social media provides credible information or news to its users has been a debated question for many. Social media platforms such as Facebook have provided individuals the outlet to share news and stories with their friends instantly whilst Twitter allows individuals to report live from one’s own perspective. Social media has also had negative impacts on users as articles that are shared often appear to be credible, but in reality are fake news and have no credible sources to prove that their information is real. Unfortunately not everyone who reads the news from these platforms go to the extent of source checking to verify whether what they are reading is true or not.
Social media has had a huge impact on young individuals as it allows them to take part in conversations regarding social issues. It has allowed them to become aware of global issues that mainstream media choose not to reveal to the world, such as people of colour being harassed by people in power positions in America. Posting in “real time” has allowed millennials to spread news quickly and effectively while also being able to be a part of the process of informing others of what is going on around the world. According to the article – New Study Finds Social Media Shapes Millennial Political Involvement And Engagement, millennials are interested in getting involved in spreading awareness of various social issues across the world. They feel the need to be a part of the process of being able to spread important news instantly (Fromm, 2016). Social media platforms allow them to feel more involved in politics and this encourages them to take a stand in the conversations taking place. Millennials believe that it is important to work together with others online and have collaborative conversations about social issues in order to overcome them (Fromm, 2016).
Unfortunately seeing news stories that are upsetting or worrying to some individuals on social media appear to have negative impacts on their well-being. According to an article by the Pew Research Centre, news articles often portray individuals such as political leaders or candidates in a negative manner. This causes readers to either change their perspectives about the individuals or angers them because the articles portray them in a way they believe to be false (Anderson, 2016).
Seeing unsettling news frequently appears to be taking a toll on social media users and therefore many are limiting the time they spend on these platforms. According to the article – ‘Post-election stress disorder’ strikes on both sides by CNN, the number of individuals seeking therapy to talk about political issues in the United Stated has increased significantly, especially within minority groups. Since Donald Trump became president of the United States, all media outlets have been reporting concerning news about the policies Trump has put into place and his future plans for the country. The Muslim ban was extremely scary for many individuals, as they could not get back to their country or their lives. The President’s open discrimination towards minority groups has created anxiety, as their safety is uncertain in a country they consider to be their own (Gold, 2017). Seeing headlines about Donald Trump on social media is extremely stressful for many as it is uncertain as to what new threatening policies he will implement on his citizens next.
According to Gold (2017), individuals reported that they find it difficult to maintain social relationships with those whose opinions differ to their own ones. Social media users often share news stories or comment on news articles they agree with or disagree with, which allows their friends and family to see what their point of view is about certain issues. Those who see Donald Trump as being a fit President also report on having negative experiences when supporting him on social media (Gold, 2017). They experience harassment because their opinions threaten and offend individuals whose opinions differ to theirs. Conflicting opinions about serious cases such as banning individuals from entering their own country are leading individuals to end relations because they feel discriminated by people they know and thought cared about them.
Despite the negative impacts of using social media as a news source, users believe that social media is allowing them to communicate with political leaders more effectively. According to an article by The Washington Times on How social media gives public opinion wings, the reporter mentions that individuals from across the world can reach political leaders through Twitter regarding specific issues. Political leaders are also able to post about certain topics and review the responses from users instantly, without having to hire individuals to run polls which can be time consuming and expensive (Weissmann, 2016).
In conclusion, social media proves to have both negative and positive impacts on users regarding news consumption. Seeing negative stories about what is going on around the world constantly on social media is unsettling for many. Fake news circulating on users profiles also makes individuals question what the truth really is and where to find it. Despite all the negativity, there have been some positive outcomes from information that is spread through social media. Individuals are able to share stories more easily and efficiently. Awareness is being created about topics that may not have been discussed otherwise and individuals are coming together from all over the world to seek the truth behind stories that may have otherwise been buried by news outlets.
Anderson, M. (2016, November 7). Social media causes some users to rethink their views on an issue. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/07/social-media-causes-some-users-to-rethink-their-views-on-an-issue/
Fromm, J. (2016, June 22). News Study Finds Social Media Shapes Millennial Political Involvement And Engagement. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefffromm/2016/06/22/new-study-finds-social-media-shapes-millennial-political-involvement-and-engagement/#6724df1e2618
Gold, J. (2017, February 20). ‘Post-election stress disorder’ strikes on both sides. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/20/health/post-election-stress-partner/index.html
Weissmann, S. (2016, September 12). How social media gives public opinion wings. Retrieved from https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/12/how-social-media-gives-public-opinion-wings/