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What are the pros and cons of social media? This is an especially pertinent question when more people than ever are using social media apps, but when social media is making people unhappy.
Social media has its pros and cons. And in this article we explore both sides of the argument, listing the pros of social media and the cons of social media to help you understand both sides.
The Pros of Social Media
Let’s start by looking at some of the benefits of social media.
Staying in Touch
The original selling point of apps like Facebook and MySpace was to provide a way for you to stay abreast of the goings-on in other people’s lives. This is arguably still the primary advantage of social media today.
It’s easy to use social media to keep in touch with friends and family who you might have otherwise fallen out of contact with. This is especially true if you’ve moved to another city (or even an entirely different country).
Access to News
The availability of news can be listed as both one of the pros and cons of social media. For now, let’s look at the positive side.
Millions of people around the world do not have access to a free press in their countries of residence. Given that all major news companies have social media accounts, apps like Facebook and Twitter give those people a way to stay abreast of news reports from the world’s most reputable newsrooms.
The job market remains tough for a lot of people.
If you use a professional social network, such as LinkedIn or Xing, you will be able to see automatic job listings that are a perfect fit for the skills you’ve listed on your profile. It’s one of the pros of social media that’s often overlooked.
Very few services can rival Facebook when it comes to planning parties, community events, weddings, conferences, and other mass gatherings. Given just about everyone has a Facebook account, it’s easy to create invites, disseminate event details, and share various materials connected with it.
Growing a Client Base
If you’re starting your own business, one of the biggest benefits of social media is the ability to grow an audience quickly, and by extension, a client base.
I hate these twitter ads in the Bart station pic.twitter.com/mrIQX8AcqJ
— Toby (@Toby49932685) October 8, 2019
Not only does word of mouth spread quickly on social media, you can also run highly targeted ads for considerably less money than you’d pay to advertise on TV, on the radio, or in print media.
Law Enforcement and Civil Protection
Look, we get it, no one wants the government snooping around in our private messages. But at the same time, it remains a fact that criminal networks, terrorist groups, and even would-be mass shooting perpetrators are increasingly using social media to plan and coordinate their attacks.
Providing the police with a means of nipping such issues in the bud remains a key
advantage of social media.
Social Media Is Fun
When assessing the pros and cons of social media, it’s easy to forget that at its core, social media is fun. If it wasn’t, Facebook wouldn’t be able to boast almost three billion users.
Games, chat, interesting articles, memes, videos— there’s plenty of content to keep you entertained for hours, regardless of your interests.
The Cons of Social Media
Alas, it’s not all rosy. There are plenty of negative aspects you need to consider, too. Here are some of the biggest disadvantages of social media.
Cyberbullying and Online Abuse
Due to the increasing number of trolls & abuse, I have turned on the Twitter's Quality filter so won't see tweets from new accounts, unconfirmed accounts & those who don't follow me.
It's not worth the stress.
We all need to look after our #mentalhealth when we're online.
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) October 10, 2019
One of the worst drawbacks of social media is the prevalence of cyberbullying and online abuse. It’s worryingly common for people to be targeted based on their gender, appearance, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities, political beliefs, and a whole lot more. Kids are especially vulnerable.
Addiction Is a Growing Problem
Take a trip to any local restaurant, and you’ll see dozens of patrons with their eyes glued to their smartphones. The majority of them are probably on social media sites. Sadly, too many people are more worried about their number of followers on Instagram than their real-life problems.
It’s not healthy, either physically or mentally. Indeed, it’s one of the most significant negative effects of social media on society.
There's only one thing that can cure my social media addiction, ' NO INTERNET '
— Sharf (@Persharfate) October 8, 2019
Privacy Is Non-Existent
Another of the major cons of social media is the lack of privacy. If someone is a heavy social media user, you can often find out everything about them—favorite books, employer, what their baby looks like—with no more than a few minutes of cursory research.
Ads Are Scary
Everyone accepts that ads are part of the modern world. However, advertising on social media is very different from seeing a billboard on the side of a road or TV commercial during a sports game.
The processes going on behind the scenes to show you ads on Facebook etc.—from selling your data in bulk to analyzing your every online move—is straight out of 1984. And it should worry all of us.
Your Data Is Impossible to Delete
You can’t talk about the pros and cons of social media without considering the online footprints you’re leaving behind. Yes, you can delete your social media accounts. But what really happens to your data?
Sure, it might not be visible to the public any more. But is Twitter wiping all your tweets from its servers? Does Instagram definitely delete every photo you’ve shared from its records?
The answer is no. There will always be a chance (albeit small) that the data could someday resurface and be used against you.
Growth of Anti-Social Tendencies
Does social media make us less social? Plenty of studies suggest the answer is yes.
There are several reasons—some are linked to the issues we’ve already discussed, like addiction. But consider this example…
Your friend goes on holiday. Before the trip, they post everything about their planning. During the trip, there’s a neverending stream of photos and updates. When they get home, they spend days telling the world what a good time they had.
Is there any incentive for you to reach out and chat about their holiday in person? Probably not.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Social Media for You?
So, we’ve rounded up some of the most commonly cited pros and cons of social media, but we’re sure you can think of more. In which case, let us know in the comments below.