Essay on Expressing Emotion Through Social Media

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1596 Words
Date:  2021-05-24

The turn of the new millennium has brought with it a new form of interaction in the form of social media. This paradigm has completely changed the way people communicate. On one hand it has made virtual communication easy, hence aiding social and business engagements. However, other people have argued that the advent of technology aided interactions has been widely blamed for the decrease in interpersonal interactions which has led to the rise of a generation of socially awkward individuals. Many young people today spend most of their waking time hugging their phone tweeting or instagraming friends rather than meeting them face to face. As a result, they have become oblivious of how to handle diverse social situations. This paper seeks to explore the effect that social media, especially Twitter has had on the communication skills of young people today.

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The early years of social media in the late 1990s were characterized by a buzz that lauded it as the next big thing in global communication. It was expected to revolutionize the way people interacted. Now one did not have to pick up the phone to call a relative in another time zone on the other side of the world and risk disturbing people who could be asleep. This could be achieved by the tap of a button and later, a screen. Everyone was excited about this new invention. Communication would never be the same again. People would be closer and interact more than ever before.

Then came the dark cloud of social media addiction. Young people started spending nearly all their time online. They would follow anything and everything that came up, from popular culture to entertainment trends. No one had time for meeting friends in a cafe or at the movies anymore. And even when they did, the ghost of digital media leered its ugly head always and the temptation to whisk out that smart phone and check out what was trending on twitter was always omnipresent.

Researchers have sought to find concrete evidence on the detrimental effects of social media on individuals sociability. In his study All the lonely Facebook Friends, Alex Greig postulates that social media and in-person interactions usually work in conflict with each other. The more time spent on one means that there will be less time available for the other (Greig 1). In recent times, social media has been winning the tussle for time between these two constructs. Greig discussed the implications of this on the personal interactions of an individual such as with family and friends. He observed that people have increasingly less time to hold face to face conversations with close associates because most of the time, they are on their phone chatting on Twitter of Facebook. Nowadays, people post their daily experiences on social media rather than sharing with friends and kin. This in effect eliminates discussion topics as everything you need to know about the other person is already in the public domain, hence depriving people of the crucial emotional connections.

The debilitating effect of social media is not only in suffocating existing relationships but also in inhibiting the formation of new ones. There is no longer much impetus or motivation to hold conversations with strangers in public places or social gatherings as most of the time, everyone is on their phone. Pew Institute researchers Lee Rainie, John Horrigan, Barry Wellman, and Jeffrey Boase look at the permutation that personal relationships have taken in the post-internet age. They discovered that the internet has fomented a paradigm where people are more interested in forming long distance, superficial relationships rather than incubating closer, stronger ties (Lee et al. 2). Because of social media, people are more averse to real, compact ties that come with commitment and responsibility. Instead, they opt for the virtual, diffuse ties that make them feel unbound.

This dispensation was tested by Joseph Grenny in his article Is Facebook Making us Anti-social. Therein, he queried people about their experiences interacting online as opposed to one-on-one engagements. The respondents reported notable difference in online behavior versus real-life conduct. Eighty-eight percent of respondents in our study reported that people are less polite on social media than they would be in a face-to-face interaction, Grenny reports (Grenny 1). The researcher attributes the findings to the impersonal nature of internet socialization. ..they cant see the face. Faces give feedback, he says, adding that the lack of non-verbal cues in online conversations make people more careless on the virtual space (Grenny 1).

Jareem Imam is more direct in his indictment of social media for its role in alienating people from their true nature. its called a social networking site, but we are sort of disconnecting, it is mass communicating, but we are losing something, we are losing our interpersonal skills, he aptly paints the paradox of social media (Imam 1). The writer gives examples of people whose social lives have markedly improved after they deactivated their social media accounts.

Psychologists have extensively explored other social effects that this new media has had on the psychology of individuals. Emilio Ferrera and Zeyao Yang found out that social media is having a real impact on the psychological dispensation of individuals. They explored the effects of social media events on the peoples sentiments. The researchers found that a positive remark on twitter was more likely to elicit more positive comments while the converse is true for negative comments.

This study provides great insights into Twitter psychology and the phenomenon that has arisen from it. The snowball effect of positive and negative emotions has real effects on the daily lives of individuals (Lim & Datta 2). This has been the foundation of constructs such as cyber bullying where particular segments of the online community take up arms in attacking an individual or a group, with detrimental effects on the psychological state of these parties. Cyber bullying and trolling is a big indictment on the negative role of social media in creating hatred and divisions among people rather than enhancing communities.

The ramifications of cyber-attacks on individuals emotional orientation are all too evident. The statistics of people who have resorted to reclusion and even other extreme measures such as suicide due to the pressure of social media are staggering (The Atlantic 1). Cyber bullying has been a big mystery for many a social psychologist. Why do people decide to rise up against an individual, sometimes for no concrete reason or things that are no faults of their own?

Researchers have attributed this phenomenon to the effect that collective mentality as created by social media has on bringing out the animalist instincts in people. Just like animals pick on the weaker species in the jungle setting, so does the online community gang up those they deem to be social misfits. In a way, online bullying is results from the aggregated need of individuals to dispel their own sense of insecurity and get a feeling of belonging. And so they do this by turning against their own without regard for the irreversible emotional scars that they inflict on these individuals.

Just as the online crowd unites in ostracizing one of their own, so does it unite in extolling their celebrities. This has the effect of giving the venerated individuals a false sense of superiority. They live lives that are not their own, all in the interest of giving a good show for the fans. And in the ever fluid world of social the slide from hero to villain on cyberspace happens in an instant. Quite often, these celebrities find themselves on the receiving end of cyber bullying after committing acts perceived as indiscretions by the online jury. Such an existence has psycho-social effects which reverberate throughout the lives of these individuals, affecting their real social relationships.

Other researchers have sought to disagree with the findings on the negative effects of social media (Boase et al., 2005). This school of thought has pointed the positive impact of social media in creating linkages and forging new relationships. The time that most people spend online reduces the time they spend on the relatively unsocial activities of watching TV and sleeping, Pew researchers say. They argue that instead of counteract real life relationships; social media serves to augment it.

As we have seen, a life on the web has real consequences for real social lives of individuals. It has resulted in the creation of a generation of online enthusiasts that is out of touch with reality. It has also bred many social evils such as media addiction and cyber bullying, both of which leave deep emotional scars on those involved. But as the dissenting group has shown us, if employed in the right way, this media can help to reinforce relationships. Then we can have healthy interactions both locally and globally.

Works Cited

Ferrara, Emilio, and Zeyao Yang. "Measuring Emotional Contagion In Social Media." Plos ONE 10.10 (2015): 1-14. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

Grenny, Joseph. Is Facebook making us anti-social. May 7 2013.

Greig, Alex. All the Lonely Facebook Friends. September 12 2013.

Imam, Jareen. The Anti-Social Network. May 18, 2012.

"Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, May 2012. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

Kwan Hui, Lim, and Amitava Datta. "An Interaction-Based Approach To Detecting Highly Interactive Twitter Communities Using Tweeting Links." Web Intelligence (2405-6456) 14.1 (2016): 1-15. Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 Oct. 2016

Miyata, Kakuko, Barry Wellman, and Jeffrey Boase. "The wiredand wirelessJapanese: webphones, PCs and social networks." Mobile communications. Springer London, 2005. 427-449.Rainie, Lee, John Horrigan, Barry Wellman, and Jeffrey Boase. "What Is the Internet Doing to Relationships?" Pew Research Center Internet Science Tech RSS. Pew Research Center, 24 Jan. 2006. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.

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