Gretchen Allen, Staff Writer
In the ever-changing and ever-evolving world we live in, social media is one of the most impressionable forms of change in the world. We are a generation that does not see the world without having a cell phone, or more specifically, a smartphone, with us at all times. A mere decade ago, people didn’t have the social media that we do today. Facebook was just starting out, Twitter was barely getting off the ground, and MySpace was the hippest media platform around. These social media sites were not frequented by millions of users until years later. By 2014, the world was booming with so many social media platforms that it didn’t know what to do with them. Suddenly, people could share breaking news on Twitter, in real time and thousands of people could see what was happening just seconds after their post. Our world has gone from no social media to not being able to function without it 20 years later.
Today, we use social media without even thinking about it. We can connect with people across the world in seconds by a Facebook post, an Instagram picture, or a Snapchat, etc. There are many advantages to using social media, and several have surfaced in the past few years. A major use of social media now is to document and discuss what is going on in the world. We see this by the various hashtags circulating Twitter to spread awareness and get people involved. The political world is not as far away anymore with many politicians involved–sharing their thoughts on events happening across the globe and interacting with citizens with the tap of a button. Social media has turned into a whole new world where almost anything seems possible. You can sell your clothes to someone across the country while Snapchatting your best friend, instant message your co-worker to pick up your shift, and check your bank account in less than a minute.
Sadly, social media has not been as cheerful with an increase in online bullying. Recently, an article about Snapchat on Daily Mail discussed how high school teachers are having a harder time helping students who are being bullied because of the rapid increase of social media platforms and how easily accessible they are to everyone.
Increasing online platforms, especially in the business and banking realms, comes with a necessary increase in security. With a lack of security, people have hacked the systems and jeopardized whole businesses and billions of people’s life savings. We see arguments being ignited on every social media site regarding politics, religion, and peoples’ personal beliefs, because they are put out there for anyone to see, and that does not come with a safety net. The worst part about the arguments is the possibility of someone hiding under a different name, a different face, and not knowing who the actual offender is.
There are many misinformed, misguided, and downright hateful posts that may start on one site, but circulate through to every platform. Even if it’s shared out of a dislike of the matter, this ignorance is spread faster than the truth. We feed the uneducated and ignorant people the attention they crave, when the real facts are forgotten or were never heard.
This digital age is rapidly growing and while we try to see all the good that comes with it, we cannot ignore the bad. Social media use is projected to increase tremendously this year. Instagram gained 100 million users in a few short months, two-thirds of WhatsApp users are online more than once a day, there are 313 million Twitter users, 10 billion daily video views on Snapchat and Facebook has 2.07 billion active monthly users. In the next decade, we can only wonder how the powerful influence of social media will continue to shape the world.