Influence of Social Media
Influence of Social Media
A survey was conducted among 50 Australian students studying in the American University of Sharjah on their exposure to social media. By having an equal number of boys and girls participating, the gender parity provided an excellent opportunity to measure its reach on a wide audience thereby acting as a reflection of the rest of the young population. Most respondents confessed to using social media to communicate more with their friends rather than family members. Notably, there was a marked preference of making friendships with people of the opposite sex. Therefore, few people showed an interest in same-sex friendships. Moreover, it was apparent that individuals are attracted to people with similar interests as they are able to exchange ideas on a number of issues. The sharing of photos and stories was more prevalent than music and movies because of the ease of uploading such items. In fact, while other devices such as computers are used to some extent, a majority of them attested to using cell phones hence illustrating its usefulness and popularity among this demographic.
Similarly, a fewer number confirmed using it for entertainment hence asserting the platform’s goal of facilitating interactions. Furthermore, a significant portion of the survey team alluded to using it for educational purposes in which they form online groups for carrying out group discussions. While this is an encouraging prospect, it is a rarity because most of them prefer to use this forum to make personal connections with other users thereby signaling its power of linking strangers. All the respondents claimed to present their ideas without fear thus indicating that social media provides some kind of liberation in which freedom of expression is propagated. As opposed to face-to-face communication, this gesture makes such avenues vital in making people to expose their vulnerabilities especially when speaking about sensitive subjects. All respondents were in agreement as well that online accounts are effective in the mass mobilization of people into action in support of a specific cause. In particular, they noted that Facebook played the biggest role in the 2011 Egyptian uprising. As such, the availability of the internet in most countries and ease of joining social media platforms makes it possible to reach a large audience within a short period. Moreover, the students were delighted with the anonymity of such arenas as they can be used to conduct whistle blowing activities which can then spur people into action. However, it was observed that most of them stuck to their identities even when communicating with strangers thus unraveling the media’s power to influence cultural integration.
Likewise, the number of people who post comments on blogs and those that don’t was even. Therefore, it shows the uptake of this trend in some quarters and the unresponsiveness in others. Such a scenario can be attributed to the need for having particular interest in a subject since blogs are dedicated to certain aspects of life. A majority of them also confessed to social media being a distraction from studies due to the numerous fascinating options available online. In fact, its accessibility through cell phones makes users glued to their devices both day and night hence spending a lot of time chatting instead of studying. Nevertheless, the students were equivocal that such forums can be used to ruin a person’s reputation and exposes them to harassment. In particular, girls were strongly in favor of this notion. Such skewed results display the unfair treatment of online female users against their male counterparts because the former are always victims of online abuse. For example, they are more likely to be tormented about their appearances. Therefore, this cyber bullying is destructive and the invasion of privacy is troubling.
Furthermore, many of them confessed to spending more than six hours per day on social media sites. Such behavior indicates the overwhelming nature of these services as they are sources of economic, personal as well as political views. While most world news is easily streamed through television and online websites, this group of students acknowledged that they receive such information from sites such as Facebook and Twitter. By so doing, they are concurring with the common belief in the instant dissemination of news to a mass market that is only applicable to such platforms. Moreover, it is a testament to the constant usage of social media since thousands of users are online at any given time. The survey also discovered that freshmen were less likely to strike conversations with strangers. It is a phenomenon that can be attributed to the initial culture shock as well as timidity that engulfs such students when they join college. Most of them find themselves in a new environment and are exposed to a different culture thus develop skepticism towards things that they are unfamiliar with in hope of maturing quickly to embrace them later. However, social media was credited with being able to reach many people while the invasion of privacy was noted to be its main disadvantage.