When people talk about social media, they use words like ‘new,’ ‘different,’ ‘change.’ All of these things are fairly ambiguous because they do not lean either way to the positive or the negative: they just are. Recently, MIAD’s Senior Thesis Exhibition saw people arguing both sides of the spectrum: on one hand, that social media such as Twitter can be immensely helpful and good. On the other, that it can be dangerous and addicting.
So which one is the right answer? What is it? I think that simply, it just is. It is addicting – the countless hours I log online (mostly on facebook) can attest to that – but it can undoubtedly be helpful. Personally, I’m not sure if the cons outweigh the pros yet. As someone who has lived through the time just before social media, through its earliest days on Myspace, and into a Facebook frenzy, I can attest that there are things that I’m unhappy about. I miss sitting on the phone with my friends for hours (phones now make me uncomfortable), I miss being excited to see a new haircut (rather than seeing a picture as soon as it happens), I miss the elements of chance that came with not knowing peoples every movement.
But at the same time, there are many things that I’m happy for. I’m happy that I can stay connected to all of my friends, whether they are living down the street or across the world. Should I or any of my friends move, it becomes much easier to stay in touch and connected; moving no longer means being alone in a strange place. I’m happy that I can share a great deal of information more quickly.
Overall, I think the full effects of social media are something that won’t be fully known until we see an adult generation that is no longer nostalgic for answering machines, landlines, and snail mail birthday invitations. Undoubtedly, everyone is changing as a result of the new technology; but until we know the complete effect of that technology on individuals who only know that technological world, we will not know whether these effects can truly be considered as a positive or a negative.