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  • Writer's pictureTudine Singapore

Social Media: Amazon to Cyberbullying

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

Social media has undeniably made our lives more engaging and convenient, allowing us to better connect with the world we live in. With just a few clicks, we can see the lives of others, communicate with people regardless of geographical and social boundaries, and share our ideas freely. 

Social media connects us to the world of ideas and possibilities, promoting active citizenship. Many have taken to social media to voice their opinions and advocate for a cause they feel strongly for. Recently, a myriad of photos and videos of the Amazon rainforest wildfires have received popular attention on social media.

Millions of people were educated about the disastrous situation of the Amazon, and made aware of the various ways to help, particularly making donations contributing to relief measures. Another example is the viral social media campaigns of One, an organisation aiming to help people in extreme poverty by breaking the barriers of gender inequality. Their campaigns, including hashtag movements, videos, and tweets have resulted in hundreds of thousands of petition signatures and garnered large global support of their donation platforms. In different prevalent issues, social media has repeatedly displayed its accessibility and ability as a platform to empower voices and inspire change. 

Another positive impact of social media is that it has given rise to digital marketing, allowing companies to attract and connect to a larger audience. According to Buffer, a social media marketing software, 73% of marketers believe that social media marketing has been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” in growing their businesses.

Social media marketing has proved its power in campaigns such as the 2012 #MakeItCount campaign by Nike, where a #MakeItCount video went viral on YouTube, resulting in an 18% increase in profit in that year (Wikipedia). The most commonly seen social media marketing strategies are working with influencers and launching advertisements, which have a significant impact in informing consumers’ purchasing decisions. Building a presence on social platforms can certainly help brands interact with their customers, increase awareness about their brand, ultimately boosting their sales. It is even evident in education, where course like photography courses in Singapore seeing record intake numbers in recent years.

It is of no doubt that social media has many positive impacts, bringing our community even closer than ever and allowing for the promotion of companies and brands. However, our over-reliance on social media can bring about many detrimental effects to us mentally and socially. 

With social media being a convenient platform for anyone and everyone to broadcast their ideas, it also provides opportunities for cyberbullies to emerge. Cyberbullies assume the power to weaken their victims by conveying hurtful and threatening messages. Some examples of cyberbullying include writing rude comments, uploading embarrassing photos of the victim without consent, and spreading rumours about the victim. Victims of cyberbullying can experience feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and helplessness, all of which would take a major toll on their mental health. This can cause them to distance themselves from their family and friends and lower their self-esteem. In serious cases, they may even engage in self-harm and have suicidal thoughts, as that is their only outlet to express their feelings. 4 in 10 children aged 12 to 17 years old have been bullied online, and this proportion has only been increasing with the rise of social media.

Our increasing use of social media can also affect our social skills. People spend an average of 2.5 hours daily on social media, that means, 2.5 hours of simply staring at our screens, with close to zero physical interaction with others. During face-to-face interaction, we have to consistently pay attention to our facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, and gestures, which are all essential in building our ability to communicate effectively and respectfully to the people around us. However, the increasing use of social media can undermine our ability to communicate with others in real life. We may become less proficient in expressing our ideas and understanding others. This can pose challenges, especially to the younger generation, as they step grow older and play a greater role in the community, where communication is essential. 

3.2 billion people worldwide are active users of social media, equating to 42% of the population (Emarsys, 2019). These huge numbers are enough to prove our increasing usage of and reliance on social media. It is thus important to stay aware of the positive and negative impacts it can have individuals and communities, for us to become responsible and effective users of this powerful tool.

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