Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Debate: The power of Social Media

Social media seems to be inescapable in this day and age. It's everywhere. Lets put it into perspective; If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. With over 350 million (and counting) active users, Facebook is the simon Cowell of the social media world. Whilst social media used to be deemed simply as a recreational tool to catch up with your friends back in the time that Bebo was the big thing, social media has now catapulted into a crucial thing for business', organisations and advertisers all over the globe.

Whether you're tweeting to support a charity or tweeting (more like instagramming) a somewhat 'indie' shot of your Starbucks, social media is an incredibly powerful tool. Long gone are the days when you had to physically walk to see a friend; nowadays you send them a text, a tweet, or a Facebook message (lets face it - nobody uses the 'poke' feature on Facebook any-more). But what would be even more shocking to the civilians of the early 1900s is that we communicate with complete random individuals on a daily basis. But no, they are not someone we encounter with on our day to day business; we talk through a magical thing called the internet as they are sitting in their bedroom on the other side of the world, and whilst we are sitting thousands of miles away in our own rooms. 

Social media has provided incredible opportunities for millions of people. Many people now rely on social media as it is considered their job-within a work environment or as a profitable hobby. Lets take Jack and Finn Harries as an example. At the mere age of 20, these two boys have a YouTube following of over 3 million. Not only this, but they each have nearing 2 million followers on twitter, nearing one million followers in instagram each and have a combined Facebook page of almost 700, 000 'likes'. Jack and Finn have built up a sufficient following that allows them to travel the world, go to movie premiers, talk at big conferences, meet the famous and give thousands of pounds to charity. Back in November, 'Jacksgap' raised a total of $177,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust through social media. I think this story in itself reflects the power of social media. The internet has created endless opportunities, that unless taken, will remain buried within outdated URLs. 

Older generations are quick to judge on the increasing use of the internet. Many a times, my grandparents have made a comment similar to 'Those youngsters always have a screen glued to their face'. I guess this is partially true. However, I think that its true my grand parents have a warped view of the internet, or to be more precise, social media. If I hadn't have shown my grandparents how I use twitter to advertise my blog, or how I write my blog, then I am almost positive that they would think that I am talking to a 48 year old man unknowingly. However, they do have a point. 'Online Grooming' has become an increased issue throughout recent years. According to Google, Online Grooming is, "Using the internet to manipulate and gain trust of a minor as a first step towards the future sexual abuse, production, or exposure of that minor. Sometimes involves developing the child’s sexual awareness and may take days, weeks, months, or some cases years to manipulate the minor." This is the thing that teachers, your parents and your neighbour think of as the main negative prospect of social media. It's common knowledge to stay aware from profiles that look unconvincing or plain weird. We know the usual waffle; don't give away personal information, your password or send any revealing information to a complete stranger. However, lets face it. I know for a fact that I have interacted many a times with complete strangers on twitter. I might not have shared personal details as such, but I still chat away to them. That isn't to say alarm bells don't go off in my head every time I get a weird follow. Whilst this is an obvious and perhaps the greatest downside to social media, the situation can be avoided using a bit of forgotten common sense. If the person asks to meet in person and you feel that you trust them, ask to speak on Skype, face time or the phone first, and if you do decide to meet up? Be certain to bring your parents along.

Hands up in the air. Who here has taken an uber-embarrassing awkward bath leg-selfie? Whilst I have not committed the crime, I know plenty who have. Social media is the place to look back on and think 'what on earth was I thinking?'. I scrolled right to the bottom of my 514 Instagram uploads to find some rather over exposed awkward 'selfies' of myself, accompanied by too many effects. In my opinion, that is quite simply the king of the friendly teasing.

Speaking of teasing, friendly jokes and 'banter' is often taken to the extremes on social media. Bullies believe that simply because they are hidden away under a false name, that it is acceptable to leave a string of multi coloured swear words and abuse on another persons computer screen. We have all seen a Facebook argument many a times, but often this is taken to the utmost extreme. This is where the phrase 'Cyber Bullying' makes an appearance. Cyber bullying is when a person bullies via a form of social media, or through technology. The emotional and psychological effects of cyber bullying are the same as real life bullying. The difference is, cyber bulling never stops. With real life bullying, it stops when you walk through your front door. If you're receiving anonymous messages, nasty emails and horrible texts 24/7 the emotional impact will a lot greater. A shocking statistic is that 90% of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it, and only 84% have seen others tell cyber bullies to stop. But cyber bullying does not only cause a few tears. Cyber bullying can lead to issues such as self harm, anxiety as well as leading to suicide. Did you know that cyber-bully victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide? Social media has released a new generation of bullies. No longer are bullies shoving your head down the school loo's or calling you a loser in school, these bullies could be anyone. If you're affected by bullying then please do not hesitate to contact a help line. I have listed multiple help lines at the bottom of this post.

Whilst there are many risks associated with social media, there are also many potential benefits. Social media allows you to find similar people or support. You may feel isolated in a situation, and feel too embarrassed to talk about it. If you turn to social media, its guaranteed that you will find somebody else with the same interests as you or who is going through a similar situation. As well as this, the use of social media opens your eyes to new and diverse communities and opportunists to fully immerse yourself in.

Social confidence is an incredibly important skill in this day and age. Often or not, children hide behind their parents, in a pink flush because they're embarrassed as they aren't sure how to interact with new people. Social media teaches us the skills to interact with people that we wouldn't usually; whether this be exchanging a twitter conversation with a person your age, a celebrity or a radio presenter; the internet provides many wonderful quirks to keep us entertained, all whilst teaching the basics of social interaction. 

Social media has now developed into a crucial way for companies and organisations alike to interact with potential employees, analyse competitors as well as conduct primary research. For example, twitter has become a great way for companies to promote itself, as well as its goods. This could be done by contacting bloggers for a PR collaboration, hosting a competition or simply 'tweeting' links to their site. Not only this, but companies ad business' tend to have secondary twitter accounts to deal with customer's. A personal example of this was when I received my Boohoo package around 2 or three weeks ago, only to find that an item was missing, although it clearly stated I had paid for the jumper, and that it was inside. Rather than calling up the Boohoo, I hopped onto twitter and tweeted the customer service team with my issue. Within minutes, I had a reply that said the money had been added back onto my account. This reflects how social media can benefit both customers as well as the business-its free, easy and fast. Without the power of social media, business', organisations and companies would not have to power to broadcast to an entire audience successfully, and within an incredibly short space of time.

If I am frankly honest, without twitter at my side (quite literally) my blog would not be where it is today. Throughout the past 5 months and 2 days, since starting my blog I have become fully immersed within the blogging community, or as I like to comically refer to it as; the 'bloggoshere'. Participating in blogger twitter chats multiple times a week has enabled me to interact with hundreds of bloggers, a dozen or so who I know consider to be good friends.I know from personal experience that tweeting a link automatically doubles prospective page views. This mirrors the idea that social media is a great way to publicise content as well as recognition. 

Within social media, there is a great sense of community. Us bloggers have certain 'hashtag's' (can you believe that somebody called their child that?!) such as #bbloggers (beauty bloggers), #tbloggers (teen bloggers), #fblchat (fashion, beauty and life chat), and #lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers) just to name a few. However, scrolling through your twitter feed also gives a small indication as to the other hundreds of communities that exist out there. First of all, you have the hundreds of thousands of 'fandom' accounts that all join together to form 'Beliebers', 'Directioners' and an abundance of other music supporting accounts. Next up, you have the twitter YouTube community, with specially dedicated accounts towards some of the YouTube generation. Even Zoella, a fellow blogger as well as YouTuber has an account dedicated to her guinea pigs. I think that as absurd as some of the things that occur in these communities are, its also fascinating to see such a diverse range of people uniting over one special thing.

Social media is an incredible tool with an unbelievable power within society. It influences day to day activities, and to the younger generations, social media seems inescapable. At the end of the day, social media is down to your own perception, and how you choose to use it. There will always be baddies and goodies, but following the #1 rule of fairy tales, the goodies must always win. So get out there, and as the internet-using-generations we must unite to banish the internet of nasty little baddies. We can do it, right, Bob the Builder? YES WE CAN! So lets do it; next time you see a nasty comment, or a rude status, go ahead and report it. Lets make the internet a better place for our children to only see the perks of, rather than the negatives which are oh too apparent in this day and age. 

If you are affected by any of the issues above, then please do not hesitate to contact one of the following. I would hate to see some of my readers being negatively affected by such pointless, anonymous and downright horrible behaviour. if you ever need to talk, or just need some reassurance, I am only ever an email, a tweet or a comment away. I care, and I would hate to see you in a bad place.

What do you think of Social Media? Do you agree with me? Have you personally been directly affected by the negative aspects of social media?

Have a lovely week my good chums,
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P.S. You can enter my 500 follower giveaway here: http://www.laurynsnotebook.com/2014/01/500-follower-giveaway-inc-soap-lush.html?m=1 (-Soap and Glory, Lush, Cath Kidston, Yankee and more!)


  1. I agree with everything in this post. Social media is a great way to communicate with so many different people from around the world in different countries in what seems like different worlds. I happened to meet my bestfriend via Twitter (www.bethanawilliamsblogspot.com) therefor social media has had a great impact on my life. Having dealt with the dissapointing side effects such as abuse, death threats and plenty of messages pushing suicide, I think it's fair to say my opinion is valid. Having experiences the good and the ugly, I will still stand by my word of socia media being a positive opportunity for our generation and without it, I dread to think where many of us would be right now. Brilliant post. I hope you're enjoying your time away xxx Amy at www.peetjadeamy.blogspot.com

  2. This was one of the best posts I've ever read. You have only 14 years and can see the huge difference that social media provides to our society. I can tell you that the discussion of the effects caused by this type of communication is very alive in universities and researches, and it tends to grow. We are living a new era and it's so important that this topic is present in every generation. I congratulate you for this beautiful text! :) xx

  3. I had no idea Jack and Finn had raised so much money for teenage cancer! That's crazy about Zoe's guinea pigs, hasn't she only had them for about 3 weeks!? I think social media is great because I love being able to connect to other people and talk to lovely bloggers (like yourself!) but I have also had nasty things posted about me online a few years ago, by people that I had considered school friends.

    Lydia x

  4. Really great post. I think social media does have it's positives and negatives, but I think that if you use it correctly, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives!

  5. This post was thoroughly interesting! Social media is a hard one - on one hand it can stop us interacting in real life and give us a deluded view of the world but on the other hand, it gives us SO many opportunities and allows us to build friendships with people from all over the world...

  6. Great post with interesting topic! I believe that the links you provided on this post must be useful to some people :)

    Grace / From The Moon

  7. Wow amazing! This was so helpful for me because I'm doing a speech for my english class about 'is technology ruining our lives?' xxx

  8. I totally agree with you. Social networking has a power over all and can really help to bring about a change.
    Zoha xx

  9. this is a really interesting, well written post! I've had the exact same 'glued to a screen' remarks from family, the ones who don't understand the power of social media anyway. I do regret the increasing amount of time I spend on instagram and pinterest and so on, and it definitely eats into my sleeping time, but it's just so addictive! I really like your blog, followed you on bloglovin :)
    lily x

  10. Interesting blog post, I personally love social media from instagram to pinterest and twitter and I haven't really experienced any kind of negative effects from social media - It is awful that social media can be used by some in a negative way though x

    Heather | Of Beauty & Nothingness


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