Editorial: Social media can help or hinder

Sooke reporter Sharron Ho writes about the use/misuse of social media

Sharron Ho

Social media is great. It’s a useful public relations tool for businesses and governmental bodies, an excellent platform for news media to disseminate content, and a good method for people to connect in their personal lives.

When used properly communication platforms like Twitter and Facebook are invaluable. But the constant usage and proliferation of social networking has drastically altered how people communicate with one another, and proven to be harmful on occasion.

Bullying has always been present in the school yard. The difference with bullying in today’s age and in the past is that it can now follow you home.

Kids and teens can’t escape their tormentors if they continue to be harassed online. And unfortunately, social media provides the perfect platform for cyber-bullying. Relentless taunts and hurtful messages can continue to be conveyed, regardless of whether or not a child is safely at home.

Photos that are posted due to poor judgement can be removed, yes. But they can also be swiped off a website to be used in the future for purposes of defamation, black mail and harassment.

Social media, which was originally designed to share personal content, has also bled into the professional realm.

Employers and recruiters can, privacy settings permitted, check up on employees or potential candidates.

Needless to say, there are more than a few people out there who have regretted posting status updates lampooning their boss or photos of “innocent” debauchery.

Young, working professionals now have to be cognizant of what sort of image they would like to present.

Another evil of social media is its use for criminal purposes. Social media sites that facilitate immediate location check-in can put people at risk for home invasion. Burglars can easily prowl through social media to find out who’s home and who’s not.

And finally, although not as diabolical, is the effect social media has had on interpersonal communication.

Nowadays, people are rarely an arm’s length from their smart phones, which provide them access — sometimes unlimited — to their favourite social networking sites.

Checking your cellphone at dinner was once considered rude, but with today’s younger generation, it’s commonplace to be out at dinner with someone intermittently tinkering on their phone. Perhaps sharing or tweeting a photo of their most recent meal before they devour it.

Is this the way it should be? Eyes plastered on your phone rather than the people you’re “spending” time with?

What’s the point in socializing with people if they’re having their own party through social media? You may as well be dining alone.

Case and point, it’s more important than ever to be prudent when constructing your online persona in a web-based world.You never know who maybe looking.

 

Sharron Ho is a reporter for the Sooke News Mirror.

news@sookenewsmirror.com

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