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Without a doubt, it is clear that social media has changed the way our society communicates. From mailing letters to twenty five cents payphone calls to now instant messaging, technology has made way for easy communication with just a click of a button. However, with these new advances, these changes are notably impacting society— both positively and negatively. Three distinct ways social media has changed the way I share information is through the ability to send temporary messages, the need to overshare, and the convenience to communicate with anyone.
With the numerous forms of social media, one of the most popular apps right now is Snapchat— known for its unique communication platform which only allows a receiver the right to look at a message once before it disappears. Personally, I use this app the most as I can converse with others in a quick and easy way. Not only that, but Snapchat encourages its users to capture a live snapshot of their surroundings, with or without a caption. This is a perfect way to capture “in the moment” content and allows the viewer to have a visual representation too. While other social media apps are tainted with heavily edited photos, creating unrealistic beauty standards or life facades, Snapchat embraces authenticity and realism as users can only send or post photos using the Snapchat camera. However, with these “temporary” messages, there are some pitfalls that negatively affect the way society interacts with one another. Because Snapchats instantly disappear after a few seconds, it restricts deep and genuine conversation. By not replying fast enough or having a long response time between each message, it is difficult to recall what you previously said; thus, making it hard to maintain sincere and important conversations. Additionally, the distinguishing feature of temporary messages is seen to be the root to many instances of cyberbullying. Rather than capturing in-the-moment content, people abuse this platform to send harmful messages that they know will quickly disappear.
Social media has created a sense of urgency within society that encourages users to display their life to the public. As social media apps are quickly developing and new platforms are being added, they all promote one aspect— the “share” button. From sharing your favorite Spotify songs to sharing your new high score on Candy Crush, social media constantly pushes its users to broadcast their entire lives on the internet— so much so, that millennials and Gen-Zers now have an instinctive need to do so. My generation has even come up with sayings such as “post pics or it didn’t happen” or “phone eats first” (meaning to take a picture of your food before eating it). Social media apps like Instagram have transformed from a quick and fun way to document momentous pictures to an environment of subtle toxicity, trying to showcase as many cool and unique moments as possible to receive validation from society and peers. In doing so, we create a facade and fabricate a persona of the lives we are living through over-edited pictures and superficial moments. Through my experience, social media has made me a lot more conscious of the opinions of others; even more so, in many ways, I subconsciously overshare many personal moments over media to convey that my life is seemingly admirable— even if it is not.
Finally, developing technology grants society endless opportunities to engage with social media platforms, but at the same time, hinders in person interactions. Social media is prominent throughout the globe, making it easy to interact with anyone. It is a norm that friendships and relationships are nurtured through social media; with a quick clicking of “Add Friend” and occasional checkup texts, relationships can easily be maintained. Because we feel as though our online interactions are sufficient, society forgets the importance of physical communication and no longer has a need to further their friendships in person. When you look around, it is easy to spot a number of couples on their phones instead of talking to one another or friend groups texting instead of being in the moment. Quarantine truly exposed my reliance on social media as I found that in many ways, I struggled to communicate with others face to face. As social media holds such a prominent place in society, we fail to engage in communication away from our iPhone screens.
Conclusively, it is evident how important social media is on society, but also how detrimental social media can be on society as well— especially in the way that we communicate with others. It is unrealistic to reject social media in our daily lives, but it is realistic to be aware and educated on the potential dangers media can create. Therefore, we must adapt our lives to have a healthy balance of in person moments and moments spent on social media.
Chloe Wong, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: "How has social media changed the ways we share information?" The class covers copyright and social media. Chloe is an Integrated Marketing Communications major.
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