Speech – The Power of Social Media.
Today we all live in a generation ruled by social media, whether it be a facebook account, an instagram account or snapchat; I have one, and so do you. Teenagers like me and you are the primary users of social media platforms, whether it be sending a snapchat or uploading a photo to facebook, we spend a lot of time on the internet, and it is a huge part of our culture and our daily lives. Social media is often frowned upon by adults, but there are some obvious reasons why parents don’t like it, young people have so much freedom on the internet, and they can post or look at whatever they want at a young age, so there is obvious reasons why adults would not trust their child having so much freedom on the internet such as when their child is getting bullied online and there is nothing that they can do about it, but there are also positives to social media that parents and adults may be oblivious to. Social media makes it easy to reach out to people, it also makes news travel fast, but these can have their downsides and can end up badly, hence why social media can work in negative or positive ways.
There are reasons that social media can be beneficial to teenagers, it provides youth a place to share their opinion, and they can have their own voice without being shut down by people who don’t want to listen to them, and they can feel like a part of something when they might usually feel like an outcast in society. For people who put their opinions on the internet, it makes them feel heard as people from all around the world could be reading their message. It gives us the opportunity to communicate with people that we may not be able to communicate with, instead of having to send letters to people who live on the opposite side of the world which could take weeks or months. For example, I went on a French exchange a few months ago, and I lived in france with a french family for 6 weeks, and I got really close to them over those few weeks, and if it wasn’t for social media it wouldn’t be anywhere as easy to contact them, even while I’m living halfway across the world from them. Instead of discouraging youth for using social media, we should encourage them to use it in the right way, and use their voice on social media to communicate positively and effectively.
Cyber bullying is obviously a major problem amongst teens today, and it has always been a problem, whether on or off social media and has become increasingly more worrying as social media is being used more nowadays. The internet is an environment that allows people to anonymously hurt people. The recent increase in highly publicized cases of suicide that involve social media has drawn attention to this topic, over 4400 teenagers commit suicide from getting cyberbullied each year. Whether some of social media’s influence on suicide behavior should be considered a public health problem and how public health approaches might be used to address this influence are a relevant issues. For this girl, everything started when her ex-boyfriend hacked into her Facebook, claiming she had committed suicide. He put up a false post, saying that the family didn’t want to be contacted. The girl started posting messages to reassure people she was alive. Among the condolences, she saw a message to stop being so attention seeking, complete with profanity. Even though she didn’t post the message, there were people who kept saying all over the social media saying the girl had faked a mental illness and only wanted attention. The Hamilton girl was dealing with depression and it didn’t help that she kept getting messages on social media from anonymous senders who claimed to be her best friends. The messages said that her real friends wished she had killed herself, no longer liked her, and thought she was a bad person. All of this was coming from Facebook, Tumblr, ask.fm, and emails. She was so worn down by the constant hate and events in her life that she did attempt suicide. Luckily, she survived and made it through. With the help of her family and her true friends, she is getting stronger, and shutting down accounts where she only received hate. This is a negative aspects of being part of online communities. On the Internet and off, bullying has always been a huge problem among youth, and probably will be for a long time to come. I’m not trying to justify bullying in any way, but I am simply saying that taking the Internet away would not solve the bullying problem.
United Airlines’ travails in the past couple months are certainly a sign of the power of social media – there were lots of videos of the man being treated unfairly by the crew of the plane and being dragged out of it, which I’m sure that many of you saw, this is an example of how social media’s power worked in a negative way for United Airlines, and within days it was all over people’s facebook feeds, it drew hundreds of millions of viewers from around the world. The company faced a one day stock drop of $250 million. After being on the internet for only hours, over 6.8 million people had viewed the video in less than a day, and United Airlines got lots of bad publicity from social media. It is hard to imagine that this news event would have gotten the same amount of attention that it did if these social media platforms did not exist of social media. This is just another example of how powerful social media can be and how even major companies like United Emirates can be affected by social media.
All in all social media is a powerful thing that can work in both good and bad ways and there are plenty examples of it being used in both negative and positive ways. So now that there are all these ways to get our voice heard, I think that teenagers should be empowered to learn to use social media in the most effective way. The systems help good users,however social media in the hand of someone who has bullying traits or is insecure or merely wanting a forum to voice their opinions without any concern for others, is dangerous. We need to learn to protect ourselves through safe settings, tell others when social media is used irresponsibly and we need to be a good user ourselves.