Has Social Media Made Us Less Social?

Publication Date: Dec 08, 2019

Article by Claude Calleja published on the Sunday Times of Malta on 08.12.2019

On some social media sites, content published there may spread virally across social networks.  The term is an analogy to the concept of viral infections, which can spread rapidly from person to person.  Businesses are particularly interested in viral marketing tactics because a viral campaign can generate widespread advertising coverage at a fraction of the cost of a traditional marketing campaign.  Non-profits and activists may have a similar interest in publishing content on social media sites to become viral.

You can receive online invitations to social gatherings or a Facebook message asking you to meet in person.  In many ways, social media serves as a tool to facilitate interaction with others in real life.  On the other hand, many of the articles we found seem to consider social media harmful to social life.

The purpose of social media is to connect with the world.  There have been many studies looking at whether social media make us more or less social, but it seems to be a split vote. Many people would like to say that teens and young people spend so much time on social media that they forget to actually live their lives.

Through social media, they can always access their friends, so they feel less alone.  Social media activism is one of the most positive aspects of social media.  Social media has strengthened awareness of important issues in ways that traditional media could never do.

Stick to a social media channel that will help you build authentic social connections and attract you to a welcoming community.  Finally, think about who you are before reaching for a social media snack.  The stress of university or college can weigh heavily on students who lack a social network to fight negative thoughts. 

Honestly, as a social media user, I've never thought about socialising or not using social media sites.  I do not think I'm addicted to these sites, but I love to scroll through my newsfeed if I get the chance.  Given the debate over whether people on social media become antisocial, both sides have strong arguments with facts to substantiate their beliefs. 

However, the experience does not always live up to the hype.  Such arguments suggest that the use of social media can have both positive and negative aspects.  Whether we find it helpful or harmful has much to do with how we engage, who we relate to, and what limits we set in our daily lives.  Instead of passively accepting the platforms as they are, we can be critical when we realise that social media offers the promise of the community that we need to create for ourselves.

Surveys show that people want to keep their lives private, but their actions in social media suggest something else.  Much of the privacy concerns that individuals face arises from their own contributions to social media platforms.  When information is shared on social media, that information is no longer private.  There have been many cases where young people exchange personal information that can attract predators. 

There are concerns that social media tools may be abused for cyberbullying or the exchange of inappropriate content.  As a result, mobile phones have been banned from some classrooms, and some schools have blocked many popular social media sites.  Many schools have recognised that they must lift restrictions, teach digital citizenship and even integrate these tools into classrooms.  Some schools allow students to use smartphones or tablet computers in the classroom if students use these devices for academic or research purposes.

In conclusion, social media platforms are a double-edged sword and like any other tool, should be used with caution and intention.  These tools can augment our lives as well as diminish them.  Therefore, happy e-socialising or maybe not?