IMPACT OF MASS MEDIA ON A SOCIETY

(Syeda Aqsa, Karachi)

It is one of the most powerful tools of communication in the developing countries, as well as in the developed countries. It can aid in promoting the right things at a right point of time, or can make use of any situation to create disturbance around the people or in the society. Media helps to provide a strong message to the world about what is right or wrong.Media is present all around us. For example, when we watch the Television; listen to the radio; read books, newspapers, magazines, journals; etc.

The world is making a steady progress towards a better future everyday. But still, people are bound by the social problems and issues directly or indirectly are “ effected by the people ,of the people and for the people.”

By now, we are all aware that social media has had a tremendous impact on our society, culture and in business, on the world-at-large. Social media websites are some of the most popular haunts on the Internet. They have revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize on the Web.

However, aside from seeing your friends’ new baby on Facebook, or reading about Justin Bieber’s latest brush with the law on Twitter, what are some of the real impacts, both positive and negative, that social media has had on our society?

Here is a closer look at the effect of social media on politics, business, socialization as well as some of the negative effects such as cyber bullying and privacy.

Knowledge is power. We all recognize this saying but few understand the empowering role social media has played. Through social media, anyone online is empowered by an unrestricted flow of information to add to their knowledge bank. In today's world, it is undeniable that social media plays an important role in impacting our culture, our economy and our overall view of the world. Social media is a new forum that brings people to exchange idea, connect with, relate to, and mobilize for a cause, seek advice, and offer guidance. Social media has removed communication barriers and created decentralized communication channel and open the door for all to have a voice and participate in a democratic fashion including people in repressive countries. This media outlet accommodates a wide variety spontaneous, formal, informal, scholarly and unscholarly writings to flourish. It enables common interest based groups such as students to work in a collaborative group projects outside of their class. It fosters creativity and collaboration with a wide range of commentators on a number of issues such as education, the economy, politics, race, health, relationships…etc. Although it has brought about many benefits, allowing us to easily connect with friends and family around the globe, allowing us to break down international borders and cultural barriers, social media has come at a price. social media has a negative impact on our lives because the combination of isolation and global reach has eroded our culture. Social media is robbing us of trust and comfort we once placed in one another, replacing the human fellowship, physical and emotional support we once drew from each other with virtual connection. It robs us from self control and from the ability to think independently and instead makes us gullible to join any group that posts perverse messages that tickle our ear and amuse our senses without evaluating the consequences. Ironically, social media is in effect turning us into one of the most antisocial generations, yet. We prefer texting to phone conversations, online chat to a face-to-face meeting, and many have replaced human interaction with convenient platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Jonathan Safran Foer in his article, “How Not to Be Alone”, said “Each step forward in social media has made it easier, just a little, to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.” With each passing day, these words ring truer and truer. It is the objective of this article to present evidence from several researches that were done by many scholars in different environment that distinctly demonstrates the negative impact of social media in three main categories. First, social media fosters a false sense of online “connections” and superficial friendships leading to emotional and psychological problems. The Second harm of social media is that it can become easily addictive taking away family and personal time as well as diminish interpersonal skills, leading to antisocial behavior. Lastly, social media has become a tool for criminals, predators and terrorists enabling them to commit illegal acts. And the third analysis will consist of showing the link between the psychological problems caused by social media and criminal activities committed.

Although I will be focusing primarily on the harms of social media, it is important to recognize that there are numerous positive aspects associated with social media usage. Social media offers the ability to form a group for like-minded people to work together. Social networking sites help students do significantly better in school, primarily through utilizing connecting with each other on school assignments and collaborative group projects outside of class. For instance, Facebook allows students to gather outside of class to exchange ideas about assignments. Some schools successfully use blogs as teaching tools, which has the benefit of reinforcing skills in English, written expression, and creativity. Social media is also an excellent marketing tool. Since there is an exponential user growth in social media, companies use this platform for product marketing through advertising, where they promote brands, discuss features, and create awareness. In fact, advertising is the main scheme social media companies use to generate revenue stream to sustain their operation. In addition, social networking sites are used to spread information faster than traditional news outlets or any other form of media. Everyday examples of social media sharing are seen in the emergency amber alerts we receive on our smart phones reporting the missing persons’ photos we see on social media sites. The amazing fact is this news comes directly from others who have experienced it firsthand. Examples of rapid social media sharing occurred in events such as the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, and the death of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe a few weeks ago. In all these stories, social media caught word quicker than local news outlets and created awareness giving a voice to the victims of these tragedies. The Boston marathon bombing in particular is a good example of social media rapidly sharing information. After the event, the FBI released photos of the two suspects and the photos immediately went viral on Twitter and Facebook,. Social media was used to form groups in which people posted photos and information pertaining to the case. This phenomenon is called crowd sourcing or crowd sleuthing and eventually the whole country was on the watch; there was nowhere the perpetrators could hide. Before the week was up, one suspect was found dead while the other accomplice was placed in custody. These are few of the many benefits of social media. One of the most popular social media sites, Facebook, has 1.4 billion users around the world, nearly a fifth of the world's population, thus helping us to better understand, learn and share information instantaneously making the world look like a small village. However despite these benefits, social media has brought about detrimental side effects to society. Throughout this article, I’m going to discuss three main points, which I came across during my research: social media and psychological issues, social media as a tool for criminals and lastly the link between social media and criminal activities. .

To summarize, despite the positive benefit of rapid information sharing, social media enables people to create false identities and superficial connections, causes depression and is a primary recruiting tool of criminals and terrorists. Finally, since social media is a relatively new phenomenon and the impact studies done are also reasonably new, I feel as though the advantages of social media are emphasized quite often, as opposed to its negative aspects which are very rarely discussed. This trend must change and I hope my presentation can help galvanize it by better informing users on both sides of the argument. Although change is good, necessary, and inevitable, it always comes at a price. Discounting positive impacts does not hurt in the long run, nearly as much as negative ones do. In this presentation, I have explored the harms posed by this uncensored and unmonitored new medium of communication which exposes us all to a gradual breakdown of social cohesion and the destruction of our traditional value systems, unless we take responsibility to ensure that our understanding of social media and its impacts are constantly evaluated with what's happening in the world.

With technological advancements, such as the Internet, have made it possible to bring the various forms of electronic media to our workplaces and homes at the click of a button. To conclude, the influence of mass media is undeniable as it can make or break the belief of the people, or start a movement for a right cause.
I feel that even though media has appeared as a prominent innovation but individual aspirations can effect in the formation of ideas and opinions.

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