Social networking is fundamentally shifting the way we interact, communicate, organise, form opinions or even shop. It is blurring boundaries, increasing transparency and creating fluidity in everything we do. Companies at all levels today are compelled to attend and cater to the influence of social networking sites. The reality is you need to go where your target audiences are and people are more likely to participate in a social media forum than any other venue. Customers, partners and employees, expect to engage with you via social media—it’s a way for you to stay connected, gather feedback, recruit and collaborate. As a result, you need to support social media in your environment to enable innovation, increase productivity and accelerate growth that will drive your business. The invention of social media has changed our lives tremendously. With instant messaging, unlimited access, being a cheaper method of communication, raising awareness and generating income by promoting goods and services, social media has revolutionised modern day society.
However, by developing addictions, changing the definition of privacy, creating scams and spreading antisocial messages, social media can prove to be harmful to mankind on other side. Thus, social media can be either a blessing or a curse to the world. It all depends on how these sites, like Facebook or Twitter, are being used. Social media itself can be abused, overused and taken advantage of. However, the power of social media itself is probably greater than the power of any person, any noble, any ruler or even any country. But, whether that incredible power is a blessing or a curse is also one matter to the question. The power of social media can be something extremely influential. At first, this served as a revolution. For the very first time, people’s voices and opinions were coming together to form something larger than themselves. Internet has got many social networking sites such as Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, etc, and this has become the special platform for strangers to become friends that facilitates as a powerful tool of communication. With instant messaging, people can get in touch with their family and friends anywhere across the globe in seconds, and all we need is an internet connection. In past, people used to send messages through letters and telegrams that would take days to reach their destination but with social media we do not have to face time delay to hear from our loved ones. Apart from this, several governments have taken initiatives to connect social media with their day to day governance, e.g. Government of India has launched a new digital platform “Twitter Samvad” in association with social networking site Twitter, to boost the nation’s e-governance plans and facilitate direct communication between leaders, citizens and government agencies.
Social media is the most effective way for businesses to conduct market research about the goods and services they promote among the public. Businesses can use the constructive criticism expressed by consumers to enhance their products and satisfy the demands of the public. For example, opinions.com is a specially designed website for consumers to rate, appreciate and criticise new products and services that have recently been launched to the public. Some other advantages of social networking sites are listed. Social networking sites allow you a fast and free resource for communicating with your customers and potential customers, announce sales, promotions, special events and more by simply typing your message and posting it to your page or profile. Social Networking sites like LinkedIn are a great resource for the business owners to find new talent or even partners for a new venture. This is probably the biggest advantage for business owners using networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and many others are great forums for you to talk about your business, your services and even exhibit your industry expertise. Some social networking sites provide a business owner with the opportunity to advertise to a very specific demographic for very little money. So, you can advertise to exactly the customer that you want to attract and save money versus other forms of advertising. By consistently advertising and posting, a person can build trust and credibility amongst their audience which in turn can lead to more business.
On the other hand, social media brought some shortcoming along with its advantages. One crucial disadvantage is isolation of young people. To explain it better, even if teenagers communicate with other people, they do this via their mobile phone or electronic computer. They lose all contact with the outside world and become addicted to the Internet. There has been an increasingly disturbing behaviour found in students and youngsters after their exposure towards such sites. These sites also deter them to go outside and make friends. Another drawback is the fact that adolescents may talk to someone they don’t know. Internet poses many dangers and one of them is that the people can lure unsuspecting persons within it with malevolent intentions. This is because true identity can be easily concealed over the net. Another way social media can act as a curse is through its changing the behaviour of our society. Some say social media sites can lead to shorter attentions and less efficient work. Not only that, some people tend to abuse social media and use it for popularity. Despite social media being a term with the connotation of connecting us, that seems to be one thing it is doing least. Those people, who use Facebook, by requesting and accepting as many ‘friend’ as possible, up to thousands, are giving those relationships artificial traits. Those relationships are so scattered and insignificant that many people don’t even know some of their ‘friends’. These thinning relationships have no such value and are illusions of genuine relationships. In this abuse of social media, values of building relationships and making new connections, as were the intentions of social media, are taken away and transformed in a wrong way. Such vague nature of social networking sites like Facebook provides breeding ground to terrorist and anti-social elements like ISIS who secretly use these sites to lure new recruits all over the world.
Social media has changed the definition of privacy. In the past, mankind was careful not to share any private information over the internet. But now we have become so accustomed to social media that we provide all our private information that may lead to identity theft. Strangers can access to personal information, bank details and cause a threat to property and other assets in an instant. Therefore, we must be careful not to disclose our private information on the internet. Social media can be used to scam people for personal benefit. The inclination and usage of social media by the society determines its character.
Social media is a blessing for mankind because it is easy to use, cost-effective, one can interact with family and friends instantly and support and promote business. At the same time, social media websites can also be a curse because of various aspects discussed above. The difference between it as a curse or a blessing hangs on the shoulders of its users. One may choose to abuse the potential of Facebook or to change the world with Twitter. The difference in your actions may be small, but the end result varies greatly, and it is upto you to decide social media’s role in your life.