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 The internet has created endless opportunities, that unless taken, will remain buried within outdated URLs.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,