Today is the age of new technology. Every year a new phone like the iphone 6s plus, a new type of computer like the Macbook Air, or new piece of technology like google glasses comes out. Even every month or day a new applications or social media tool enters into the digital world that we now call reality because of how much technology surrounds us. Social media has impacted a large amount of people and many even say that they cannot live without it. With this new age of social media many people believe that it is completely positive, when there are some underlying negative aspects that are connected to a person’s identity, communication, and entertainment through the use of social media.
As more people use social media, they are exposed to different ideas and images that help them discover who they are, their identity. Social media sites are filled with pictures that include different accounts where a person chooses which accounts to follow based on who they like or inspire to be like. The pictures could range from what is posted by the user itself to what is shared between users; it could be of someone’s body, face, or even a pet, etc. Along with each picture there is an option for someone to comment. The comments can be seen by everyone and they could either praise or discourage the picture posted. As users see the comments and pictures they start to create an identity for themselves, or in other terms a “digital identity”. According to Jon Dalton and Pamela Crosby, “Digital identity is the composite of images that individuals present, share, and promote for themselves in the digital domain”. The users see others posting certain pictures and then based off others the user themselves post pictures that promote their digital identity.
As users discover their digital identity, there could be some positive and negative aspects that could come along. One positive aspect of social media is better physical health. As social media users continue to increase there has been an increase in physical fitness in 130 adults as studies have shown (Benjamin Chapman, Benjamin Raymond, and Douglas Powell). Social media has become a vastly open place where users can start following fitness accounts because each user has their own account or profile where they can share photos or posts with other users. Many times fitness accounts post videos, pictures, and comments related to improving one’s health. I follow a fitness account that posts videos of different types of work-outs that people can do from home, making it easy for people to work out. On the negative side of this trend, many business/fashion accounts post pictures of models or post men/women that are viewed as what is considered “beautiful” to the public. For example, the business Brandy Melvill, a popular clothing store, has their own social media accounts where they promote their new clothing lines. Brandy Melvill along with other businesses use models to wear their items and they post them on social media. As young girls look at accounts like Brandy Melvill they get the idea that they see these beautiful models in these clothes and want to look like them. When they end up getting the same clothes as the model and they don’t look the same, the child begins to feel ugly or self-conscious. With an image created by social media of what is beautiful to everyone, that idea that one body type is what is beautiful can disturb the digital identity and the body image of the user. The user could feel that looking like that one person or having that certain body shape is the only way to look or feel “beautiful” and they start to feel self-conscious. Self-conscious is when a person does not feel comfortable in their own skin; they are unhappy with their outside appearance. Research indicates, about 40% of 1,096 teen age girls were “dissatisfied with their bodies” and many of them were scared to gain weight (“Does Social Media use Impact on Body Image Amongst Adolescents?”). Social media has many pictures that could be photo shopped or distorted and people see this and want to look like the people in the pictures when it is not realistic. Photoshop is used by the “social media artist Saint Hoax, who often uses Photoshop and other tools in crafting his or her snarky cultural commentary via images and videos” (James Joiner). Hoax works with famous icons like, Kim Kardashian, to make them look flawless in photos with the use of Photoshop. Many people look up to and strive to look like these famous icons within these photos and it is sometimes impossible for them to do so. Because people strive to look a certain way they can develop eating disorders which could cause them to eat too little and many hate their own body type. People do not only develop eating disorders, but also become depressed which can affect their whole personality and life. Depression is a serious disorder that can cause a person to take extreme measures to escape the realty they are unhappy in (“Does Social Media use Impact on Body Image Amongst Adolescents?”). As social media continues, the idea of a user’s body identity will continue to change and will always have a positive and negative side to the images and comments presented.
Almost every social media account has some form of communication where users can have contact with each other either directly or publicly. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have direct messaging systems where people can easily communicate with others allowing this to become a great place for users to reach out to friends and family. Since social media is used worldwide it makes communication easy for friends that don’t live close to each other; “[Social media is] used primarily for maintaining or strengthening existing friendships rather than seeking new friends…” (Subrahmanyam et al.; Hampton et al. qtd. in Shannon Vallor). Sites like Facebook let users connect with old friends and family members where the users can catch up on what is going on in each other’s lives and it allows the users to stay in touch even though they may live far away from each other. This use of social media can also help with long distance relationships. Justin Marley addresses the impact that twitter has made on relationships. Twitter has a direct messaging system that allows couples to easily communicate with each other and maintain a strong relationship. The direct messaging system can help a relationship if one of the people move away or go to college that is far away. Allowing the couple to constantly communicate lets them feel as if they are together when they are not physically with each other. The use of social media as a form of communication can help build and keep relationships strong, but along with this easy communication there is a negative side.
Social media allows for not only direct messaging, but people can also comment on other people’s posts where they have the ability to say whatever they choose to say. When people comment it is public and everyone is allowed to see it; so if a person comments something hurtful towards a post or photo then all of the users following that person can see it making the user feel very exposed. Social media makes communication easy, but with this easy access to communication it creates problems: “…When the victim is not in front of them, kids seem to become much braver and are willing to send or forward mean messages.” (Robinn D’Antona et al.). When children grow up there is always a form of bullying that goes on within schools, but today it is much easier for children to bully each other with the use of social media. Children are able to comment or post hurtful things toward each other without the thought of what they are actually doing. When children are behind a computer screen they are not face-to-face with the victim and they can’t see the reaction of the person they are hurting. It is much easier to say hurtful words online than it is to do in person. Marley stats that “Twitters give people an opportunity to better understand a person—what they like to talk about, their patterns of Twittering, how they interact with other Twitter users”. On social media sites like Twitter everyone’s personal lives are open and public for everyone to see, allowing online bullies to invade their profiles and bully them easily. Social media has become a great tool for communication where people can reconnect with old family members and friends, but it also holds a place where people can easily be vulnerable to online bullies.
The popularity of social media is increasing and creating a whole new place for people to find entertainment. Social media platforms such as Facebook have different applications that are within the site where users can play games and watch videos. Amanda Mulvihill claims that “according to Facebook statistics, users install 20 million apps every day”. People can download applications using Facebook where they can play the different games and many of the people use the applications as a way to unwind or relax. After a long day of working hard people, like my mother, use Facebook or other social media sites as a way to clear their busy minds. Mulvihill states that “with more app support and more content sharing, Facebook, and social media in general, is increasingly becoming a multimedia entertainment platform”. With such a large amount of variety and new content streaming through the social media sites everyday it makes it a great place for people to sit on the couch after a long day at work to just turn off their brains as they stare at their screens. In other words the instant streaming of the news and posts provides a huge amount of entertainment for people that could pose as a distraction.
In today’s new age, many businesses use Facebook or other forms of social media for a communication purpose and most of the time it becomes a distraction for the employees. With all of the applications and posts that come along with the use of Facebook it becomes a distraction when the employees try to only focus on the communication with their coworkers (Charlie Osmond). The employees aren’t able to focus on the work that they need to complete because there is just too many posts and instant streaming that are available through social media. Students as well find social media a distraction, doing a homework assignment that should take an hour to complete now takes two to three hours. Students get an urge to check their phone when the thought of new posts and updates are being missed while they’re doing homework (Wendy Davis et al.). Students even find the phone a distraction when they are in class; they have that same urge to check their phones during class and are not focusing on the lesson being taught. Social media has increased so much in the past couple of years and with each day there are new devices being added which makes it such a great place for entertainment for people.
The world of social media is new and exciting. Social media can be used in a positive way, but along with the positive there is a negative side. There is a positive side with a person’s body identity, communication, and the entertainment of social media that people experience. Social media is expanding and as it expands there will continue to be positive aspects, but with a person’s body image there will be self-consciousness, with social media’s communication there will be bullies, and with its entertainment there will be distractions. As social media continues to be in the lives of people today it will grow to become a more important aspect in our lives than ever before.
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