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Blog: Social Media Impacts on the Society

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By Jenny Chun Chi Lien October 5, 2020 - 1:04pm

 

As professor Jon has mentioned previously, social media could benefit a certain group of people while harming certain others. I was reflecting back on the impacts and what it could have been. Who are the people benefiting from social media, and who are the others being harmed? 

 

There’s no doubt that social media could accelerate the social polarization. To begin, let’s look at it from the bright side- ever since the rise of social media, more social awareness on certain topics are brought to the general public. Many have utilized social media to change human behaviour and harness social media for social good.

(Read: The dragonfly effect: Quick, effective, and powerful ways to use social media to drive social change By Jennifer Aaker & Andy Smith

http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/628773/10481733/1296429908687/SSIR_TheDragonflyEffect.pdf?token=SXALo1vHzr6Xm5z%2F82NCY5G3X%2Fo%3D

 

Previously there were only a very small amount of people care about underprivileged people or underrepresented people ( and hence, the world used to seem more harmonic because these people’s voice were unheard) These people benefiting from social medias may include the LGBTQ2S+ communities, feminism communities, and people of colour. As a pan-sexual Asian woman, I fit into the categories that have greatly benefited from this trend. * Notice that these are the people who were although previously oppressed, they however are able to visually present themselves using the power of social media.

 

While these communities are growing stronger and stronger. Here are some negative impacts.

 

- Inequality: While many groups mentioned above have enjoyed the growing support due to social media ( including LGBTQ2S+, environmentalists, feminists, BLM...etc) , not all underprivileged people enjoy the same amount of progress in awareness and cultural understanding. For example - those people in the deaf culture communities. (Read: A Double-Edged Sword: Social Media as a Tool of Online Disinhibition Regarding American Sign Language and Deaf Cultural Experience Marginalization, and as a Tool of Cultural and Linguistic Exposure  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305115624529) They don’t have the ability to compete with other more vocal groups on grabbing the attention and social awareness. Previously working in a non-profit related company, I was aware that there’s always a bit of competition in between good causes/charities in terms of competing and securing more public attention and funding. While certain groups are getting more attention, it means certain others are not getting enough attention or empathy. 



- Cancel culture: Rania has mentioned the toxic cancel culture brings. While these social awareness groups are growing stronger, some in these groups have become unreasonably harsh towards the others. We are all humans which means we aren’t perfect and we make mistakes during our lives. Social media makes it extremely easy to track the words or actions taken by a person even 10 years ago. The important part is we grow and we learn and we don’t make the same mistakes again. No one is saint and we need a bit more compassion, so we don’t turn into those who we don’t want to become. 

 

- Where there’s light, there’s shadow. Social media have magnified the voices from the minorities. The louder these social awareness groups are, the more hate it may potentially draw from people who previously were enjoying their “privileged status” and now have fear of losing their own privileges. These may included the stereotypical “white blue collar uneducated males” - who were although not part of the upper classes but were able to enjoy their privileges of being white and being males previously. Nowadays these people are losing their privileges they used to have so they have fears. Those who are not the “good looking/attractive”, “rich”, “well-educated” groups fear that once they lose their privileges of being “white males”, they will be forgotten and no longer fit well in the society. Are they evil people? No. There's goodness in everyone. We are all humans and we all make mistakes and it’s human nature we worry about ourselves first before we can worry about other people. It is not hard to notice that most celebrities (including white, males & females) who speak up for minorities are often good looking, well educated, and rich themselves. They enjoyed their lives that they know supporting oppressed minorities are unlikely going to shake or impact their own social status. Again, let's think about why Trump would even get elected as a president. He is not a fit to be a president but he is elected by those people who have fears. I don’t hate Trump, and I don’t hate Trump’s supporters, but I hate how the society did not take care of those people who did not have good education and are struggling to fit into the changing society. People who weren't being treated well sometimes don't know how to treat others well. Because those people were not taken care of, they elected Trump – even though many of them deep in their hearts probably would have to admit that Trump isn’t a good fit but they support him anyways because their decisions are not driven by their brain but their emotions -fears. Fears are monsters living in our hearts. I hate how education is not more accessible for all humans and I hate how not everyone’s life is taken care of that they have to live with fears. 

 

Social media are accelerating and revealing the social polarization effects, but maybe it’s because we human society are always polarized but we never saw it. Only if all people people are taken care of, not just showing compassion to the visible minorities but also to everyone else including those we don’t agree with, those who we called “dumb, uneducated, ugly”, then one day the human society may be less polarized and more united.

 

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