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The predominant definition of a social media networking site is any online site that allows a user to create a profile, communicate with friends, and view those friends’ displayed activities, information, and connections (Boyd and Ellison). Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have acquired such a widespread audience across the world that most individuals no longer need to introduce themselves in person. A Facebook profile easily provides material about friends, pictures, interests, and other basics in one convenient spot. This rapidly provides access to any information most new contacts would ask for upon meeting without actually having to do so in person.
What is the point of gathering all of this information in one place, and how does it benefit the viewer? Although the original intentions of these social sites were positive, these mediums of social interaction now have negative effects that include harmful psychological effects, creating antisocial effects, and negatively consuming too much time. As a social work major I am interested in how our society functions, communicates, and what negatively impacts the tools we use to do these things.
Who Accesses Social Media the Most?
We must consider which part of our population is using Facebook and other social media sites the most in order to discover how it is affecting our society and the way we access information and communicate. “Today around seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information and entertain themselves” (Pew Research Center). Young adults aged 14 – 26 make up the majority of users and thus are the most effected by its negative impacts. Females utilize Facebook more frequently than males and spend more time on the site than males. (Nadkarni and Hofmann). Men in relationships spend less time on Facebook, but relationship status does not affect female Facebook use (McAndrew and Jeong). This means that most users are young females and single males, however, Facebook’s viewers are becoming more multigenerational (Brandtzaeg, Luders and Skjetne). More and more people of other ages are beginning to join the site and will have different reasons for accessing information than the current demographic. For example, I have a 94-year-old great-aunt who is on Facebook solely to stay in contact with her many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other family that is scattered across the country.
Antisocial Effects
Social media creates antisocial effects. Communication through social media websites is robotic. The extended use of social networking has also led to the lack of face to face interaction and unlike chatting in person it is difficult to show emotions due to a lack of auditory tone and visual display of body language. Phrases meant to be used in a joking, sarcastic, or light-hearted manner are often taken the wrong way when transferred through social media. Emoticons, small pictures representing facial expressions, have been developed in an attempt to imitate human emotions through cyber communication.


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