Social Media: A Bittersweet Development

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Published on Thursday, April 21, 2016, at 12:45 p.m.
by Kelley Breeding.

The world of communication is constantly changing and has been since the beginning of time. Messaging used to only be available through forms such as postal mail service, radio broadcasting, email and phone. Now we are able to read messages online from multiple people on countless sites within minutes. This access is because of the rapid change in technology and the enhancement of social media.

About six out of 10 millennials report getting most of their news from social media channels like Facebook. Even though people still get news from newspapers and other sources, social media is undoubtedly climbing the totem pole as top news resources.

Social media is a great way to get news quickly. People, especially millennials, are not going to be scouring news sites at all times of the day, but take one look across the room, and someone within feet of you will be on social media. From 2012 to 2016, users of social networks increased from 1.4 billion to 2.13 billion.

The first social media wave occurred in 2003 when MySpace was born. Shortly after, in 2004 and 2006, Facebook and Twitter came along. This momentum led the way for more and more sites, such as Tumblr, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram — a huge explosion of social media within 13 years. No telling how far the digital world will expand in the next decade.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org
Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org

Social media is a bittersweet development, however. It’s great that we have the ability to keep in touch with friends and get news quickly, but at what cost? It’s sad that some people are on their phones more than they are having actual face-to-face communication.

Dr. Kate Roberts, a Boston-based school psychologist, said in an article by Chandra Johnson, “Families text rather than have conversations. We’re living in a culture of sound bites, and that is not developing our verbal skills or our emotional intelligence,” Roberts said. “We’re down on the interaction time. Right now, at Boston College, there’s a course on how to ask a person out on a date. It’s like we’ve lost the skill of courtship and the ability to make that connection.”

An article written in 2015 shows a recent study that people in America check their social media accounts about 17 times a day. That’s once every hour. Social media truly is a great information source, but we need to learn how to find balance so that it doesn’t take over our lives and ruin face-to-face communication.

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