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Examining Different Aspects of the Same Phenomenon- Delving Into the Complexity of Social Media

Thank you for the draft. Here are the areas that are most in need of improvement (and not quite a pass yet re. the title, excerpt, conclusion):
- As stated in the tips, statements like: “it is fair to say that there are so many different aspects when it comes to looking at this phenomenon” are throwaway phrases; they are taken for granted at this level. Further, they could belong to any essay – so your thesis statement needs to more accurately reflect the specific content in the body paragraphs.
- The introduction is filled with sweeping generalizations. It only becomes concrete where you bring in sources. Those ideas could be further expanded – and also linked to the title of the essay. Is it a “necessity” today to see people? (And if that is true, then why do students turn off their cameras during the video conferences?)
- The third paragraph is similarly only of value where the source is cited (the rest is opinion, so would do better to be edited out). Maybe it would better go as the second paragraph. This means the outline is: seeing people, addiction, credibility, which is a nice selection because there are many abstract concepts you could use to unify them.
- The and excerpt bring nothing of value to the essay and could belong to any essay.
- You need to cite at least one more source from the course material (the instruction prompt asked for a range of course material to be cited).
- You could note – self-reflectively – that your own essay demonstrates some of the problems of the internet in that you are citing opinion pieces yourself – is it too easy to treat information on the internet as a closed system?

This is a final individual post on the risks of and ingenuity in social media.

Social media has, to put it simply, changed the world as we know it in so many different ways. It has become an unavoidable part of our daily routines and we have gotten used to various content being thrown our way constantly. According to this statistic, “As of 2019, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 144 minutes per day, up from 142 minutes in the previous year.” (Clement, 2020). The fact that we use social media so much on a daily basis brings up some interesting questions about social media as a necessity. Have we forgotten what real contact feels like or did social media help us connect more than ever in the midst of the corona virus pandemic? Which information should be trusted and are we addicted to using social media?

Firstly, social media has absolutely altered the way we communicate with other people. All of us rely heavily on texting and phone calls, and face-to-face interactions are becoming less and less frequent. We do not even think about how little effort we put into actually caring about the people around us and asking how they are, instead of simply liking or commenting on their posts. However, we can’t ignore the fact that social media has proven to be an invaluable device when it comes to staying in touch with our family and friends who are far away, with our distant colleagues or online friends, especially during the course of the corona virus pandemic. It has been an essential part of all aspects of our lives in the previous months since people all around the world had to work from home or take online classes at their universities. We have even had the opportunity to see our loved ones with the help of social media. As it was mentioned in this article, “It seems that we want to do more than just connect through messaging and text — we want to see one another. This has given a big boost to apps that used to linger in relative obscurity, like Google’s video chatting application, Duo, and Houseparty, which allows groups of friends to join a single video chat and play games together.” (Koeze and Popper, 2020).

Furthermore, social media has changed the way we accept and receive information. In the sea of clickbait and eye-catching headlines, it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine which sources we should trust and which of them we should simply ignore. Because of this, not only have people begun to form biases and started to only get their news from a single source, which is just as bad, but they have begun to completely disregard the information they receive. As it was pointed out in this article, “The problem is that people fail to absorb recommendations. Again and again, helpful warnings have gone unheeded and advice ignored. Why? People might believe the information is mistaken, or even manipulative. Some mistrust towards politicians is unfortunately understandable, since a number of governments haven’t been fully transparent (and that’s an understatement)” (Mercier, 2020). People are starting to feel that the media as well as the government are so untrustworthy that they have no other choice but to completely neglect rules and recommendations, which are being used for their own safety. Moreover, as we all know, social media has specific algorithms that determine which information we would like, which content we would find engaging or interesting and it is constantly throwing such content at us. As it was explained in this article, “These personalization technologies are designed to select only the most engaging and relevant content for each individual user. But in doing so, it may end up reinforcing the cognitive and social biases of users, thus making them even more vulnerable to manipulation.” (Ciampaglia and Menczer, 2018). Moreover, we cannot help but wonder what is going on behind the closed doors in the media world. The Lawsuit that the Justice department made against Google which stated that Google violated antitrust laws further proves that we have to have certain reservations when it comes to spending our time online. As this article explains article, “The Justice Department’s accusation is that Google made exclusionary deals with Apple, among others, to make Google their default search engine. In other words, that Google paid off Apple to favor it over any would-be competitor (say, DuckDuckGo, or Bing). By (strong) analogy it would be as if, say, Budweiser were the beer monopolist, and they paid off every beer store and bar to stock their beer exclusively. And therefore made it near impossible to buy craft beer.” (Wu, 2020).

Another possible drawback of social media could be that we are becoming more and more dependent on it. As my colleagues pointed out , “It is true that platforms such as Zoom, Skype, or even Discord helped us connect and try to lead as normal a life as we could, but we should not forget that we used technology to a great extent even before the pandemic. In the Cambridge Dictionary, addiction is defined as “an inability to stop doing or using something, especially something harmful.” Many of us cannot imagine our day going by without using the Internet, let alone our phones. ”(djaks, 2020). Furthermore, with all information we could ever want within our phone’s reach, it is no wonder that we spend so much time staring at the screen. As this article points out “The rise of the smartphone has completed the collapse of content. The diminutive size of the device’s screen further compacted all forms of information. The instant notifications and infinite scrolls that became the phone’s default design standards required that all information be rendered in a way that could be taken in at a glance, further blurring the old distinctions between types of content. Now all information belongs to a single category, and it all pours through a single channel.” (Carr, 2020). Since all types of content are available to us on a single medium, we have gotten used to spending significant amounts of time on that same medium.

Once we consider all these arguments, it is difficult to decide whether we would be better off without social media. One thing is certain- social media is a double-edged sword. We cannot ignore what it has done for us in terms of communication, availability of sources and overall accessibility of information. Especially in 2020, social media has enabled us to function somewhat normally. It certainly is an ingenious tool of humankind. However, it would be naive of us to continue using social media without being aware of its addictive qualities, its personalization techniques and clickbait headlines, as well as content collapse. We have to get familiar with the right ways to use social media and know that it is good to have certain reservations when using it. The goal of this post was to emphasize as many different aspects as I could in order to illustrate how complex the phenomenon of social media really is. We have to be aware of all of these aspects if we want to use social media in the best way possible and we should try to get accustomed with the ins and outs of it as much as we can.

Lj. M.

This post, as well as any other of my posts on this site, may be used for research purposes.

I hereby confirm that this work is solely the result of my own independent scholarly work and that if any ideas, text passages, or diagrams from books, papers, the Web or other sources have been copied, paraphrased, or in any other way used, all references – including those found in electronic media – have been clearly acknowledged and fully cited.

References:
• Carr, N. (2020, January 13). From context collapse to content collapse. Rough Type. http://www.roughtype.com/?p=8724
• Ciampaglia, G. L., & Menczer, F. (2018, June 21). Biases Make People Vulnerable to Misinformation Spread by Social Media. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/biases-make-people-vulnerable-to-misinformation-spread-by-social-media/
• Clement, J. (2020, February 26). Daily social media usage worldwide 2012-2019. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/433871/daily-social-media-usage-worldwide/
• djaks (2020, December 1). Are we becoming slaves of the Internet/technology? / Social networks. [Online forum post]. Intercultural Extraneity Forum. http://interculturalextraneity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=27
• Koeze, E. & Popper, N. (2020, April 7). The Virus Changed the Way We Internet. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/07/technology/coronavirus-internet-use.html
• Mercier, H. (2020, March 30). Fake news in the time of coronavirus: how big is the threat? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/30/fake-news-coronavirus-false-information
• Wu, T. (2020, October 22). The Google Case. Medium. https://superwuster.medium.com/the-google-case-8fd0b26328c7

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