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Cooper Voigt

Professor P

English 102

3 March 2017

You, Me, and Social Media: A Tool Greater than Imagined

In this day and age most of us as humans living in the first world have a new technology

that previous generations did not, this technology is still fairly new but it may bring a great

change to our society, that technology is social media. This may lead one to wonder, how strong

is social media? This paper argues that social media has a greater impact than some might

assume and that we as humans should practice positive social media. Social media is a double

edged sword, whereas it can be very beneficial but can also be the cause of harm to oneself or a

community. Arguments will show the level of impact social media has, whether positive or

negative, to get a sense of how social media is not just merely an application to share content and

that it should be monitored to promote the positive aspects and avoid the negative ones.

First let's talk about how social media can change how we view each other. In an article

written by authors Francesca Carpentier, Scott Parrott, and Temple Northup, they conducted

three experiments to display how priming the concepts of sex or romance influence the way

people perceive other social media users. This source claims that we romantically perceive others

differently through social media than in person and that difference can make them seem more

alluring or romantic. The reason they make this claim is operating under the idea that first

impressions are formed very quickly and are based on relatively little information(Carpentier,

Parrott, Northup 1), therefore when meeting or discovering a person for the first time on social
media without prior correspondence what that person thinks of you is formed by your social

media. They also argue that sexual cues perceived through social media may improve

attractiveness, lead to an increase in attention, performance, competence, and other positive

qualities; or sexual cues through social media may make others view one as stereotypical sex

role or as a sex object, whereas people may only favor them if they seem open to sexual

advances, consensual or not. These claims are defended by experiments the researchers carried

out where people would be shown social media profiles on Facebook, Match.com, and LinkedIn

and then they would give their impression upon the people. The experiments worked by showing

the test subject the profiles with just information and a picture from the social media application,

they then gave their impression of the person. In the Facebook experiment they found that when

primed with certain qualities that had related to the test subjects adjectives they found the profile

owners to either be more sexually attractive or romantically attractive. In the Match.com

experiment they found that user profiles also had the effect of those being tested finding the users

to be sexually attractive but even more so romantically attractive In the LinkedIn experiment

they found that there were lower numbers in those that had found the users romantically or

sexually attractive (Carpentier, Parrott, Northup 3). This shows the strength of social media in

affecting ones image, where an account on LinkedIn was more professional intended the less

romanticized or sexualized the more the person linked to that account had seemed that way, but

the case where they presented themselves in a Match.com profile the results were the opposite.

One must be wary how they present themselves in a social environment in the media they upload

otherwise they may be scrutinized in a way they may not approve of.
The next example of the strength of social media is its ability to persuade or even

manipulate one. In an article Why I Stayed/Why I Left from authors Jaclyn Cravens, Jason

Whiting, and Rola Aamar they examine intimate partner violence and why one might stay in that

relationship when being influenced from social media. The authors article use the example of

when Ray Rice abused his girlfriend Janay Palmer and many people took to the social media app

Twitter and gave reasons to why they stayed in their abusive relationship or why they left their

abusive relationship. The article evidence for the claim comes from a study where researchers

analyzed over 600 tweets under certain hashtags of #whyistayed and #whyileft, using the

tweets they summarized what factors convince one to continue a violent relationship and what

factors convince one to leave. They had found by researching the tweets the alternating tone of

them, in one hand they had found tweets that were almost victim blaming and on the other

hand they found tweets that promoted positivity. Twitter had created external factors for staying

or leaving an abusive relationship, the factor of social support, where tweets of positivity and

reassurance were more likely to leave their relationship and those that had received tweets of

negativity or even none at all were more likely to stay in the relationship (Cravens, Whiting,

Aamar 381). This shows that social media such as Twitter had the ability to create a significant

change in ones life through persuasion but also shown its ability to manipulate if used

negatively. Furthering the argument for the positive use of social media whereas the negative or

the nonexistence such as in the case of twitter influencing users can cause a bad outcome such as

staying in a violent relationship.

The next display of the strength of social media has is its ability to create emotional

connection. In an article Social Medias Impact on Relationships by Shelley Bonanno she

brings to light the emotional connect that one receives through social media. This article like the

previous one recognizes the importance social media has in creating a social support system.

Bonanno claims that social support from social media networks such as Facebook support

positive mental health and aid in combating loneliness. The claim that relationships through

social media are valuable is backed by studies that link social support to positive mental health

and the negative emotional impact of loneliness. Bonanno even draws the correlation of those

who experience loneliness die sooner, so in the case of social media alleviating that loneliness it

technically could help you live longer. Now that could be considered a stretch saying that social

media has the power to extend your life but anything that brings positivity into your life and

takes away a negative in you life is important.

Another strength that social media has is its ability to impact peoples professional lives.

In an article written by Jesse Fleck and Leigh Johnson-Migalski titled The Impact of Social

Media on Personal and Professional Lives: An Adlerian Perspective studies social medias

positive and negative impacts on health care when referenced with Adlerian psychology.

Adlerian psychology is defined as emphasis on a person's ability to adapt to feelings of

inadequacy and inferiority relative to others, so when medical professionals and patients are

using social media and unknowingly using Adlerian psychology the outcome can be detrimental

in the professional field. But when one is using social media and knowingly preventing Adlerian

psychology a positive impact is found. To prevent Adlerian psychology from happening the

health-care practitioner must remain superior in the social media relationship dynamic, they must

control the content and the structure of the social media that they are sharing with the patient, if
this happens the Authors state that, Social media can further promote understanding and greater

appreciation of the patient-physician or client-therapist relationship, promote safety,

share reliable and valid medical information, and help laypersons interpret studies and increase

sources of credible medical or psychological information on the Internet(Fleck,

Johnson-Migalski 137). When Adlerian psychology is in effect when medical professionals

unintentionally merge their professional and personal identities online and clients follow those

online identities. Unprofessional content posted or created by an individual in a professional

field can reflect poorly on the individual and the entire profession. Clients can search the Internet

for a practitioner, only to find a post on a blog skewing the client's impression of the practitioner

or that profession in general(Fleck, Johnson-Migalski 138). This shows how deep social media

can affect one if it can change their professional life for better or for worse, explaining why

social media must be made sure or monitored to be used to avoid Adlerian psychology and bring

about positives.

The next example of the strength of social media is its ability to instigate feelings, in this

case violence. In an article from Desmond Patton, Robert D. Eschmann, Caitlin Elsaesser, and

Eddie Bocanegra titled Sticks, stones and Facebook accounts: What violence outreach workers

know about social media and urban-based gang violence in Chicago, the contents of this article

is that youths in violent neighborhoods are using social media as a tool for bragging about

violence, making threats, recruiting gang members, and planning violent crimes. Youths have

this ability to instigate crimes with social media due to how many have high tech devices. In the

figure below you will notice how the highest amount of boys and girls that own a device is a

smartphone, smartphones being extremely portable allows for youths to post on social media and
go commit crimes or be notified of a fight about to happen. This information is gathered from the

PEW Research center and it is a survey that asked over four hundred boys and girls what

technology they owned. (www.pewresearch.org)

The Chicago police department believe the rise in shootings and violent crimes in

Chicago is due to cyber bullying or taunting online. They support their claim by collecting a

sample of youth violence outreach workers and had 17 interviews, with those interviews they

received stories/examples of where youths had used social media to instigate a fight or had a

relation to a violent crime. They also argue how youths are using social media as a platform to

portray an unrealistic identity to their peers, an outreach worker for troubled youths noted this,

youth are using social media as a platform to portray an unrealistic identity to their peers.

Youths are portraying alter egos on social media where they are and have more of what they
consider the most desirable qualities: tougher, more wealth, more material possessions, and more

women. The root of this behavior is low self-esteem; social media provides a platform to portray

the identity that appears unattainable in real life.( Patton, Eschmann, Elsaesser, Bocanegra 595).

Social media is incredibly influential to those of a young age, not only can it convince teens to

commit acts of violence but it can make them do irregular things to impress someone they like,

in the figure below over five hundred boys and five hundred girls were asked if they had done

any actions that the researchers have listed to impress one of their peers. The information is

compiled from the PEW research center.(www.pewresearch.org)

Without social media the teens wouldnt have had an outlet to do extra things that they

thought would impress someone. Which is just further evidence of social media's ability to

instigate feelings and why it should be monitored so violence can lessen.

In the last example of the power of social media, the article Social Media and Living

Well by Berrin Beasley and Mitchell Haney argues the role of social media plays in affecting

well-being showing that social media can affect your outlook on life. This argument created by

splitting up the focuses of well-being, first, focus how social media affects the well-being of an

individual, then by breaking up examples of how this is affecting an individual into different

sections. One such section is called the Duplicity of Online Behavior which is making the

distinction between deceiving someone in the real world compared to deceiving one in the social

media world, the purpose of which is to address how the traditional understanding of the

doing/allowing harm distinction fails to apply in cyberspace. (Ulatowski 35). So we must

simply be aware of what is harmful and better ourselves by not creating it or avoiding it.

Social media has a greater impact than most assume and we as humans should practice

positive social media. Social media can be very beneficial but can also be the cause of harm to

oneself or a community. The arguments have shown the level of impact social media has,

whether positive or negative, social media is not just merely an application to share content. It is

a strong and impactful invention and should be used in a correct manner.

Works Cited

Beasley, Berrin A., and Haney, Mitchell R., eds. Social Media and Living Well. Blue Ridge
Summit, US: Lexington Books, 2015. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 28 March 2017.

Cravens, Jaclyn, et al. "Why I Stayed/Left: An Analysis of Voices of Intimate Partner Violence
on Social Media."Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, vol. 37, no. 4, Dec.
2015, pp. 372-385. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10591-015-9360-8.

Dillman Carpentier, Francesca R., et al. "When First Comes Love (Or Lust): How Romantic and
Sexual Cues Bias First Impressions in Online Social Networking." Journal of Social Psychology,
vol. 154, no. 5, Sept. 2014, pp. 423-440. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00224545.2014.933158.

Fleck, Jesse and Leigh Johnson-Migalski. "The Impact of Social Media on Personal and
Professional Lives: An Adlerian Perspective." Journal of Individual Psychology, vol. 71, no. 2,
Summer2015, pp. 135-142.

Galasso Bonanno, S. (2016). Social Medias Impact on Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved
on February 27, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/social-medias-impact-on-relationships/

Patton, Desmond Upton, et al. "Sticks, Stones and Facebook Accounts: What Violence Outreach
Workers Know about Social Media and Urban-Based Gang Violence in Chicago." Computers in
Human Behavior, vol. 65, Dec. 2016, pp. 591-600. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.052.