Technology has been shaping our society since the beginning of humanity. From the first telephone invented in 1876 to the various iPhones we have today, technology is constantly evolving. One of the more recent innovations in communication is social media.
Almost everyone has experienced or at least heard about social media apps. Available on the average smartphone are Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and countless other varieties of networking platforms. Most of these applications allow the user to post pictures, videos, or thoughts from their daily lives and connect with other users. Thanks to the virtual aspect of social media, people can contact each other from miles away and retain long distance friendships that would have otherwise been difficult. With the right techniques, one can even amass thousands of followers and create a career for themselves online. From the average citizen to the world famous celebrity, anyone can utilize and harvest the benefits of social media.
Where there are pros, there are cons. Millions of people are connected through one application, and not everyone has good intentions. After the rise in popularity of social media, the rate of cyberbullying skyrocketed and it is now the most common form of bullying. Hidden behind a screen and given easy access to others’ information, bullies are more courageous on the internet than in person. After all, their identity is protected and they are less likely to suffer repercussions online. After one cyberbully posts a hate comment, others are empowered to do so as well, quickly spreading hate like wildfire. This intensifies the bullying that the victim experiences and can become very dangerous if not monitored.
Another dark aspect of social media is the unseen advertising strategy. Every post, account, or product a user interacts with is secretly tracked by highly complex algorithms that aim to find what they are interested in. This data is then used to formulate personally tailored advertisements that appeal to the specific user. Although this strategy is very effective and innovative for businesses, it does not take into consideration the safety of the consumer. A very upsetting example of this is the vaping industry. E-cigarette companies, such as Juul, specifically target younger audiences who tend to be more impressionable and easy to influence. By exposing children to their content, using sneaky strategies and developing flavors that appeal to minors, vape companies can easily market their products to teens who are unaware of the long-term repercussions. In recent years, online networking has made it even easier for these ill-intended companies to track their audience.
Overall, social media is a wonderful development that has connected our society in ways unimaginable. However, it is also an undeniable fact that it can be extremely dangerous for unsuspecting users. With cyberbullies and money-hungry companies roaming the internet, it is critical that we remain aware of such dangers and protect ourselves from falling prey.