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One of the technological advances that distinguish the modern world is social networking. There are many social networking websites or networks that allow users to build personal accounts, upload videos, photos, and post various updates to families, friends, and people from all over the world (Hunter, 2013). Furthermore, social networking sites may cause shared patterns, news, images, and videos to go viral in minutes or hours (Hunter, 2013). Individuals can also be swayed by the allure and attention of knowledge shared on various social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to name a few. Social networking websites, therefore, have both positive and negative impacts on both the users and the society (Wang, 2010). However, in my view, social networking websites do us more good things than harm.
There exists a broad range of reasons why I believe social networking websites have more positive contributions to people’s lives than the harm they may cause, and one of such reasons is their creation of global connectivity. The social media sites make it easier for individuals to connect with friends irrespective of their geographical locations (Espejo, 2012). Although Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Pinterest, and LinkedIn seem to be the most commonly used social networking sites, more social networking platforms continue to pop up, each allowing people to connect and interact wirelessly (Espejo, 2012). With each of such sites, users can make new friends, as well as build strong business links through their connections and interactions with friends of friends (Espejo, 2012). Besides, such social links can result in a broad range of other gains such as finding jobs and romance, getting assistance and support, sharing ideologies and advice, getting real-time news, as well as giving or receiving service and product referrals (Hunter, 2013). Also, the social networking sites, in most cases, form the virtual communication tools used churches and other groups when exchanging news or giving updates. Therefore, when it comes to sharing information, very few communication methods can outdo the social networking websites (Hunter, 2013).
Social networking websites also create a commonality of interest. If one, for instance, opts to take part in a given social network site, one may decide to connect with individuals whose dislikes and likes are similar to his or hers and then builds his or her social network around such commonalities (Keenan & Shiri, 2009). Social networking sites also form great platforms for sharing ideas and tips relating to crafts, hobbies, gardening, cooking and other do-it-yourself activities. Besides, by liking and sharing other people’s posts, people can attract like-minded individuals to their network circles (Keenan & Shiri, 2009). While some social sites assist hobbyists exchange techniques and ideas, others provide solutions to various real-world and more vexing problems. For instance, social media groups can be avenues of assistance for individuals facing different life challenges such as domestic problems or rare diseases. Besides, religious leaders and the heads of other community groups utilize various social networking websites in reaching out to their members (Saxena, 2015).
A majority of the users of different social networking sites get attracted by the social network communities’ real-time information sharing. Almost all social networking websites have instant messaging features that allow users to exchange real-time information through chats (Wang, 2010). Teachers also make use of such features in facilitating classroom discussions since it enables them to utilize the vast information available on such websites, thereby saving time for library research (Wang, 2010). Besides, social networking websites are used by managers when organizing team meetings, organizers of conferences, as well as businesspeople when interacting with prospects or clients (Saxena, 2015). In fact, some leaders go as far as including Tweets or related social networking updates when giving presentations, which makes such events more interactive and helpful in reaching a bigger audience (Saxena, 2015).
Social networking websites are also used extensively by the business community in making advertisements. Whether an organization is a for-profit or a non-profit, there is no better way in the current world of passing information to millions of people than the use of social media platforms. In fact, social networking websites can be used by companies to spread messages for free (Hunter, 2013). One of the most loved aspects of various social networking platforms is their ability to deliver the message content only to the users with the highest interest in a given company's service or product. Besides, every social networking website provides a range of tools that allow companies to provide specific content to a given target group, which is helpful in minimizing waste and maximizing targeted reach (Hunter, 2013).
Additionally, social networking sites are helpful in increasing news cycle speed (Keenan & Shiri, 2009; Saxena, 2015). Certainly, social media has dramatically revolutionized the news cycle speed since mainstream media organizations today depend significantly on various social media sites in collecting and sharing information (Keenan & Shiri; Saxena, 2015). Social network platforms, especially Twitter, is gradually developing into a mainstream breaking news source. In fact, people can today know, in real time, every event taking place across the world through the use of Twitter and other social networking sites (Saxena, 2015). Such possibilities have resulted in the development of almost an instantaneous news cycle since every type of news, including terrorists’ attacks, can easily be shared on various social media sites, thereby alerting every audience within such networks (Saxena, 2015).
The use of various social networking websites also has a broad range of challenges that make other individuals to discredit their values and importance. For instance, when people post potentially harmful contents online, the feedback can be extreme and brutal, especially when the post relates to highly opinionated topics like religion and politics (Lehrman, 2010). Such backlashes can also create long-term adverse impacts on an individual’s future (Lehrman, 2010). Besides, the use of social networking platforms can expose users to inappropriate contents and other forms of harassments such as crime against children and cyberbullying, especially for younger children and teens (Lehrman, 2010). Children who use various social networking sites are highly likely to be exposed to inappropriate contents unless their parents conscientiously filter the website contents (Lehrman, 2010).
The use of social networking websites also exposes individuals risks of identity theft or fraud. Most fraudsters or identity thieves only need a few elements of an individual's personal information to access their social media accounts and other information, which could cost the victims dearly (Lehrman, 2010). However, despite such challenges, the benefits of using social networking websites greatly outweigh their limitations and social networking websites, therefore, in my view, remain to be providing great good than harm.
In overall, social networking websites are of great importance in almost every life aspect in today's society, and they, therefore, do more good things to individuals and the community than the harm they may cause. However, it is essential for the users of various social networking websites to be cautious with the content of the shared posts to avoid offending others, as well as ensure safety and protection of privacy. Parents also need to monitor their children's profiles to ensure that the children's information access is limited to appropriate contents. It is also essential for victims of various forms of social networking harassments and threats to report to relevant authorities, such as the police or the respective social networking websites for appropriate actions.
Espejo, R. (2012). Social networking. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.
Hunter, N. (2013). Social networking. New York: Gareth Stevens Pub.
Keenan, A., & Shiri, A. (2009). Sociability and social interaction on social networking websites. Library Review, 58(6), 438-450. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00242530910969794
Lehrman, Y. (2010). The Weakest Link: The Risks Associated with Social Networking Websites. Journal of Strategic Security, 3(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1944-04184.108.40.206
Saxena, T. (2015). Modeling for Minimization of Loneliness of People on the Social Networking Websites. Journal of Psychiatry, 18(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/psychiatry.1000257
Wang, B. (2010). Survival and competition among social networking websites. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 9(1), 20-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.elerap.2009.08.002
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