7 March 2013
The Positive Effects of Social Media
In the winter of 2004, a networking site based out of Harvard University known as Facebook, launched. Drawing from its predecessors, such as MySpace, the site made social media relevant to the masses. This began the era of Social Media. Two years later, another social networking site, Twitter, came onto the virtual scene, bringing with it more than 500 million users in just over five years. With social media phenomena gaining popularity worldwide, it is impossible to ignore its effect on the fabric of society. Despite its critics, social media has affected the global society in a positive way, creating a the “digital citizen,” enhancing the way young people learn, reforming the way in which the people of the world interact with one another, altering our views on privacy, and by changing the online paradigm to create the most connected era the world has ever seen.
The “Digital Citizen” is something that many of us have become in the last five years. Now more than ever, people are utilizing social media to force change in their cities and countries. Due to the ease and accessibility of social media, it is easy for world citizens to collaborate with one another to bring about change. The world has seen revolution and rebellion break out within the last four years, with people airing their greivances online for others to see. Angry citizens in the Middle East made use Twitter to talk about their governments’ mishaps (Kan). The Arab Spring, as the revolution became known, was able to take place solely because its participants were able to avoid their governments’ direct control by speaking freely on networking sites. Through these Tweets, citizens were better able to coordinate rallies and protests that would never have taken place without the real time connectivity social networking offered (Kan). Because of this connectivity, the citizens of the Middle East were able to bring about the fall of the governments in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt (Kan). Social media has also influenced the continuation of democracy in other parts of the world, where presidential candidates are realizing the advantage direct communication with voters brings. In 2008, the United States witnessed history being made. Not only did we watch as the first African-American president was elected into office, but we also witnessed the way in which he campaigned, Tweeting and posting his way into the Oval Office. Just as Nixon was the first presidential candidate to utilize television to aide his campaign, Obama was the first to utilize Twitter and Facebook. Following Obama’s lead, other politicians have begun to take advantage of the connectivity social media offers. In the last four years, social media has become an essential tool for political campaigns. Since 2010, nearly one-fourth of all adults on any social networking site have followed some sort of political campaign and because of this, it would almost be silly for politicians not to take advantage of this societal shift. Social media has become a valuable tool to “Digital Citizens” by making easy, fast and inexpensive mass communication a part of everyday life.
Over the past ten years there has been a massive emphasis on our students going to college to get a degree before entering the workforce. In addition to their required courses, students are learning things about social networking sites that will help their careers later in life. The world is so fast paced and digital now, that it is no longer seen as a “special skill” to be able to utilize networking sites in order to benefit business, it is an expectation. Marketing students are now enrolled in entire courses dedicated to understanding and analyzing innovative advertising techniques (Lowe, Laffey). These students compose a large fraction of the demographics on social media, and they are beginning to realize that every time they are logging on there is the potential to...
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