Ladies & Gentlemen…I give you…The Internet!
Before I start this article, I want to state my interest: I am 100% for the internet. If you sense a bias towards the internet in my writing, know that that is exactly what it is: my bias. I love the internet; I am a passionate user of it and I encourage everyone to strive to master it in life and in business. Given my feelings, you might wonder why I am even posing the question “Is the internet good or bad?” I am because I have seen a TON of articles, posts, documentaries, and other media in which people are out-crying the dangers of social media, with the general message being that it is a bad thing. I think not, and I wanted to add an article from my bias to give a more balanced view.
What even is the internet? Is it Social Media?
We’ll start at the beginning: What is social media, and what is the internet? It’s a seemingly easy question to answer, right? Well, some people say that social media is Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, along with other traditional “social networking” sites. In my opinion, social media is the entire internet—anything on which many people can connect, share, and comment. The line is arguably blurred.
Social media bad, internet good? Internet bad, social media good?
Why people say that the internet is good:
- Lighting-speed communication all over the world
- Access to education at an unprecedented scale
- Online shopping
- Online gaming
- The internet of things—real world internet applications
- Online business
- Information online—just Google it
- Entertainment (YouTube)
- Cloud storage
- Social Media—controversial I know, given that we are talking about Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and the like!
(BTW, I love bullet points.)
Next, we’ll look at social media. Interestingly, when you do a Google search of “the good of social media,” there is a distinctly negative tinge within the search results with titles like “Social Media: It’s Not All Bad” coming up very prominently.
Let’s give Social Media A Rundown…
Let me first share why I think that social media is good:
- Connection with people you normally wouldn’t
- Social causes getting mass visibility
- Calling out injustice
- Chatting with friends all over the word, basically for free
- Meeting new people
- Online dating
- Interest groups of people online about niche subjects
How about some other examples from the internet about why social media is good?
- Making friends
- Empathy—viral posts about someone in need getting help
- Speedy communication
- Building relationships
- Finding common grounds
Kindness…is all over the internet if you look for it.
That’s all the nice stuff. Now let’s take a step into the dark world of online. Brace yourself, as it gets pretty real.
What do people think is bad about the internet?
- Illegal material found on the internet
- Fake news
- Social media
Are you being watched online?
Let’s go into that last one in a little more detail. Social media is such a big thing, spanning our world so intensively that it sparks both good and bad emotions and feelings.
This is what I think is bad about social networking:
- Fake news
- Keeping up with the Joneses
- Uploading videos without permission
Are we jealous of others online?
What do others think is bad about social networking?
- Mental health effects
- Stress and low mood
Cyber-bullying…disgusting, but happening every day.
I had my mind made up before I started this article, but it has been useful for me to take a look at some of the proposed negative effects of the internet and social networking. There are some that are obvious, which any law-abiding human would know are wrong and negative, such as illegal material, cyber-crime, etc. When you go a little bit deeper into social networking, though, there is a legitimate tone of negativity that should be considered.
I think that it would be wrong and irresponsible to say that there aren’t effects on mental health from social networking; however, I don’t think that social networks are the cause of any of these issues. I would suggest that these issues are highlighted massively by social media, at lightning speed, reported on in a second, in real-time, and brought to our attention quicker than ever before in the history of the world.
On balance, I make my conclusion that the internet and social media are AMAZING, a world of opportunity for businesses and people. The opportunities provided by it did not exist before the internet—you simply couldn’t communicate with 30,000 people at the click of a button for the cost of widescreen TV. While the problems that people find with social media and networking did exist before, albeit now they have the word “cyber” in front of them. In my opinion, social media and the internet just shine a spotlight on something that has always existed, and you know what? Shining a light on something allows it to be eradicated.
How do you take the good and get rid of the bad? Education. Make sure that parents have sensible conversations with children. That the online world isn’t all that it seems and to live life online as though your mother and grandmother are watching are both valuable pieces of advice that should help to reduce any suffering associated with social media usage.
This has been an amazing post to create, and if you read it to here you must have liked it… or at least disagreed with it strongly. It would mean the world to me if you would let me know your opinion and share it with the world across the internet to see what others think.
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https://www.zonealarm.com/blog/2015/02/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-the-internet/, https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/positive-impact-social-networking-sites-society-opinion/, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180104-is-social-media-bad-for-you-the-evidence-and-the-unknowns