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Impact of Social Media and Social Networking Sites on the Civic Society
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Impact of Social Media and Social Networking Sites on the Civic Society
The 21st century is witnessing radical changes in communication approaches. The role of information technology cannot be undermined as the stimulating factor for such approaches. Technology has linked individuals across global and demographic boundaries to interact with one another. Moreover, technology has created the opportunity to express one’s freedom of speech in the mass media. The rapid spread of such opinions through the various social media websites and blogs has taken communication to newer heights (Lee & Kim, 2011).
Communication and interaction are no more restricted between two individuals, and the social networking group of an individual is accessed and touched with the click of a mouse. Therefore, social networking in this era has become an important and indispensible tool for expressing oneself freely and to a larger community. In such platform, a person may develop support for his course of actions or may be criticized for an act. It provides immediate feedback regarding the societal actions and behavior of an individual. With such a perspective social networking sites and social media is bound to create differences and have significant impact on the civic society. The main theme of utilizing social networking and social media is in expressing the feelings of an individual to other persons, and may be seeking a similar reaction towards a particular issue from a larger community. In fact, the article would portray some of the impacts of social media and social networking, which is already witnessed all across the globe (Lee & Kim, 2011).
Social media and Social networking which have created the most impact in the civic society include Twitter, Word Press, Facebook and MySpace, to name a few. These websites provide the platform and the tools for people to interact between each other, share new information and creating new relationships. With the increased use of social networking websites, our communication and interactions with the civic society have drastically changed over the past decade. First of all, social networking has reduced face- to- face socialization between individuals that formed the basis of a stable and helpful civic society. These websites also affect our social interaction and modulates personal behavior and the dynamics of rational behavior (Lee & Kim, 2011).
It is often debated that social networking sites are more used to exhibit one’s profile and achievement to others. This is in strong jeopardy to the physical social interactions where personal achievements form a part of the interactions. The larger basis of socializing in a face-to –face activity helps in discussion of state of affairs, democratic rights and economic issues. Such discussions help the government or the policy makers to understand the impact of a specific policy that may or may not benefit the civic society. Such interactions help the policy makers to shift their approach and resources towards the general mass and civic society, which they perceive as beneficial (Kadushin, 2012).
It is also noted that such increase in social media and social interactions with a plethora of backup information lead to inconclusive interactions. This is because in case of face-to –face socializing concept, the individuals exhibit more commitment towards a specific cause and concludes a course of action which needs to undertake. Moreover, physical interaction between individuals helps to modulate or convince the behavior of the opposite person. On the other hand, it is very much possible that the person who is communicating through a nonface-to-face activity may remain non-committed to a specific cause. This leads to decreased social movements, and such decreased movements have been noted in the past decade. People have remained non-committed to issues, which do not impact the social group who are united through social networking sites (Lee & Kim, 2011).
It is also a fact that the number of Internet users and users of the social media are much lower than the general population. Therefore, a social movement may not build up or social interaction may not develop and everybody’s voice might not be heard. This causes a bias in opinion or a course of action which might be beneficial or detrimental to the society (Kadushin, 2012).
Social interaction over the internet or mass media has caused a decrease in physical activity of adolescents and adults. This is a serious issue and the civic society may become prone to various cardiovascular comordid risk factors. It is already predicted that the incidences of diabetes mellitus or dyslipidemia are growing to rise to alarming situations, due to the stressful life style and challenges of the economic environment. Therefore, a reduction in physical activity due to a decrease in face-to –face socialization will aggravate such issues further (Lee & Kim, 2011).
Social networking may increase the degree and domain of communication; however it may detriment the development of empathy and compassion amongst the individuals in civic society. Since such interactions are nonface-to-face, therefore the human and personal touch may be lacking, which is normally witnessed when individuals socialize through physical presence (Bowler & Brass, 2011).
Social interactions through social networking have also caused an increase in the type and nature of crime. People are cheated in relationships, which often lead to depression and anxiety. This is because in various instances, the identity of an individual is falsified and presented to the social group. Such tampering of identity leads to crisis situations and often may be detrimental to the safety of the individual/s concerned (Bowler & Brass, 2011).
However, it is true that the social media and social networking has helped to build protests on the issues of rape and terrorist activities. These initiatives and consensus building has helped the civic society to become united against such issues. This has lead to an increased feeling of association amongst different individuals who are demographically isolated and different. Awareness has been increased due to such protests. Moreover, interacting through social network has abolished the discrimination of society based on caste, creed or religion. Individuals are free to interact with any community, any challenged group of individuals or from different cultures and religion, which might not have possible through physical presence. Since the world is a global village, it is essential that individuals must be aware of different cultures, and social networking provides an excellent platform for such phenomenon (Kadushin, 2012).
Social networking is also useful in raising funds and financial needful for challenged individuals. The reaction and patronage of individuals across demographic boundaries or the affected individuals in Syrian would not have occurred in the absence of social networking. Social networking can make a dent, even when the common media instruments like news papers and television fails to evoke a response. These media instruments do provide information of incidences, and may present them in a structured way to their viewers. However, they cannot interact instantly with their viewers and cannot modulate their behavior (Kadushin, 2012).
Social networking also influences the civic society with regard to awareness programs based on social crime and racial discrimination. It can unite mass movements, but such unifications are restricted to certain group of individuals who are present in that social group. One of the most important effects of social media has been the spread of education and science. These are the most radical benefits and have saved financial wastages. Scientists across the globe may interact on a common research goal and may discourage research in a particular direction, which has no possibilities. Such communications and awareness could have only been achieved with social networking and internet accessibility (Kadushin, 2012).
Therefore, social networking and use of social media must be meticulous and should be coupled with socializing through physical presence. The civic society will thus remain sensitive to local issues. This will also increase the compassion and feelings of individuals in a society. However, it should be kept in mind, that people must not be dependent on the social media as a mode of socialization. The websites or platform may act as an aid, in enhancing the culture of socialization. Social networking sites could act as agents of change and they should be utilized to create the bonding of civic society. The more individuals express them freely against discrimination and injustice; the world comes to know about it. People are aware and become sensitive to such issues, which may even be portrayed in a constructive manner to the policy makers. Addressing gaps in civic society and preventing discrimination based on caste, creed and religion may prevent wars and terrorism, which always threaten our modern day society (Kadushin, 2012).
Bowler, W.M. & Brass, D.J. (2011). Relational correlates of interpersonal citizenship behaviour: A social network perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(1), 70-82
Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks: Theories, concepts, and findings. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Lee, J. & Kim, S. (2011). Exploring the role of social networks in affective organizational commitment: Network centrality, strength of ties, and structural holes. The American Review of Public Administration, 41(2), 205-223