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Monday, 5 October 2015

Why Social Media Is The Best And Worst Thing To Happen To Society

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr... Virtually everybody in modern day society has at least one of these social media platforms, with one in seven people in the world logging on to Facebook in one day a few weeks back. Social media has caused an online revolution and has affected every single one of us in some way and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon. Despite social media revolutionising the way we use the internet, I maintain that it is both one of the best things to happen to society, whilst simultaneously being one of the worst.

I'll start with the obvious. Without social media, blogging just wouldn't exist. I have most of my following on Instagram and Twitter, with over 16,000 people following me collectively on just those two platforms, which is absolutely amazing. Social media has opened up a wealth of opportunities for so many people. Look at Zoella who is making an absolute fortune and doing something she loves as a career, all through the power of YouTube and social media. High street brands can reach out to their customers in a more personal way and the internet has allowed smaller businesses to grow due to the immense reach just one social media account can have. Looking for somewhere to eat? Just look on a hashtag of your area and something is bound to come up. 

Facebook is the platform which most people tend to be on as it appeals to people from the older generation too, whereas in my experience, it's the younger generation that actively use platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Facebook allows us to keep in touch with old friends and relatives, who we may not have even spoken to otherwise. We can see what literally everyone is doing at a given moment, whether they're on holiday and sharing their snaps, or whether they're posting a status about getting a takeaway and watching X Factor. We can feel connected with people we may never have met before and I know I've made some fantastic friends through Twitter and Instagram, some of whom I've gone on to meet, and some of whom I simply talk to online. I think the greatest thing is that we can meet so many more people who have the same interests as we do. I don't know anyone in my area who has the same interests as me but thanks to the reach of social media, I speak to people on a daily basis who I just know I'd be best friends with in real life. 

Now, from that point of view, the world of social media looks like sunshine and rainbows, connecting us with people from all over the world and introducing us to ideas that may never have even crossed our minds. However, as we're all too aware, social media has a dark side. 

Social media brings out the worst in people. There's no denying it. People say things to each other that they would never dream of saying in real life and insult people in the worst ways possible and sometimes can even go as far as actively trying to ruin someone's life. Revenge porn is probably the worst example of this and intimate photos of ex girlfriends and ex boyfriends appear on Facebook almost daily. I've seen it happen on my own newsfeed. That person's life is most likely ruined for now but the photo got a hundred comments and who knows how many people talked about it, so it was worth it....right? Wrong. How many statuses do you see every day slagging a friend off, a brand, a job, a specific person who may work in a specific place? Social media seems to have become the place where we go to let off steam in the worst possible way and because we don't have to face the consequences there and then, we don't think of the consequences posts like this can have on people. You may have just lost Terry who works at Sainsbury's his job but hey, you don't have to directly see that happen so why should you care?

I've experienced first hand just how nasty social media can be. You may remember in January when I tweeted about the footballer Ched Evans, a convicted rapist who was to be offered a football contract. My notifications exploded and before I knew it, I had almost 8,000 retweets and 4,000 favourites. Say whaaaat?! You'd think this was a good thing, that my point of view had been shared with literally thousands of people who agreed with me but alas, the abuse I got for weeks afterwards was simply disgusting, some of which I've posted below. 

This wasn't the half of it and I ended up with over 400 messages and tweets calling me a slut, ugly, fat, stupid, telling me to kill myself and even one which seemed to insinuate that I should be raped. Most of these messages, though not all, came from anonymous accounts with pictures of footballers and cars as their profile photos and I think that's where the problem lies. Social media gives us a sense of anonymity. These people didn't know me at all and had never even heard of me before they saw my tweet but still took it upon themselves to tell me to kill myself. Imagine I'd expressed the same opinion in real life. Would these same people have said "go and fucking kill yourself"? Of course they wouldn't. Social media gives us a sense of anonymity and because you're not face to face it's hard to imagine that there is a real life person at the receiving end of these tweets and it hurts just as much as it would saying it in real life. Another example. After the election, I got a tweet from a girl who said "you didn't vote Conservative because you're frightened your benefits will be stopped. You'll never contribute to this society." (actual quote). This girl, who had never heard of me before, felt entitled to judge me and my life. (p.s. she was completely wrong as I work two jobs, study law at Durham University and run my blog #justsaying ;)) 

You probably saw Em Ford's #YouLookDisgusting video on YouTube a few months ago (if not watch it here) and that illustrates my point exactly. I've only experienced this once or twice. I can't even imagine what it must feel like to get such heartless comments from people who don't even know you every single day and the sad thing is, reading some of the comments on the video itself shows yet again how ignorant a lot of people are to the damage which can be done by online trolling and bullying. I got a tweet the other day from someone who said that "online bullying cannot ever be as bad as bullying in real life because online you can't get acid thrown in your face" (yes that is a quote, someone actually said that to me) and said that it's simple because you can just block people abusing you. Sadly this is the mentality a lot of people have. Online abuse and bullying can have just as much as an impact on someone's life as bullying in real life and I know that someone else said to me on Twitter that for them online bullying was worse as it was people she didn't even know telling her to kill herself.

Moral of the story: make social media a nicer place to be. If you wouldn't say it in real life, don't say it on social media. Instead of telling people to "block trolls and bullies online", why can't we tell the trolls and the bullies to just stop? Social media can be, and is, a wonderful thing, when it's used in the right way.

Sorry for the long winded rant but I've seen so many awful comments on Twitter and Facebook recently, I had to get it off my chest!

Amy x

Add your comment

  1. Internet has been such an easy place for bullies - it's just so disgusting how these barbarians act!

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

    1. Some people just seem to lose all of their humanity and their compassion as soon as they log on, it's awful

  2. I have to agree with you, social media is so good but also so bad for us. I think we have to take it upon ourselves to be the good we want to see in the world!
    Jodie, xo // Jodie Loue

    1. Such a good motto to live by! Something people on social media need think more about.

  3. Reading through the comments you received makes me feel so disgusted, there are so many horrible guys (because let's face it, 95% of such vitriolic comments come from dudes) online that it makes me appreciate the blogging community even more. It's such a lovely and supportive group of people that it almost makes me forget about the amount of hate happening elsewhere on the internet.

    Tessa at Bramble & Thorn

    1. Oh definitely, most of the worst messages I got where from guys! The blogging community makes me so happy, it's so full of support!

  4. This is such an important post - thank you for talking about it. I feel disgusted for the reaction you got to that Tweet where you were so so right! x

  5. You've summed it up better than I ever could - I remember once on Tumblr being told to 'Go join your dad in the ground' a year after my dad died just because I was dating someone they didn't like... People have absolutely no comprehension that words hurt just as much behind a computer screen as they do face to face. xo
    A Manchester Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

  6. Absolutely fab post, Amy! I honestly couldn't believe what that person was saying the other day about online bullying, I can't come to terms with it at all. And reading what people were saying to you earlier in the year is just bewildering. The idea that people are happy to say those things kinda makes me want to cry. It's just beyond a joke.

    Thank you so much for posting this


  7. This post is so true! There is definitely good and bad to social media and there's no denying it has definitely changed the way we live our lives!

    xo, Liz

  8. Yikes, Amy, you've really seen the worst side of Twitter. I'm very cynical about social media in general. It really does have its benefits but I can't bear how hateful, vindictive, misogynistic etc. people can be behind a sceen x

    Martha Jane | http://www.marthajanemusic.com

  9. Wow! Amazing post! I completely agree on all the points you made and I'm so disappointed with all the haters out there who judged you simply for expressing your opinion. I just started reading your blog and when I saw this post on my bloglovin feed I was hooked! Def. sharing on twitter!

    LIVING IN PLAID - Personal Style Blog from Brussels

  10. It's so true, social media has made cowards strong. People who would never say any of those things in person have the nerve when no one can touch them. I adore blogging and for now I don't have a large enough following to have hate, but I know that the day could come and I hope I handle it with grace.

  11. I really enjoyed reading this, congratulations on such an amazing post. I completely agree. As an adult, I have never and would never dream of saying anything via the internet that I would not say in real life! Also, as an aspiring solicitor, I tend to keep most things off of social media and never risk saying anything too controversial, in case it ends up in the wrong hands and has damaging consequences.

    Laura | Lala London: Beauty & Lifestyle

  12. I really enjoyed reading this! It was so honest and eye opening! I would love if you do more posts like this one

    A Little Dose of Makeup

  13. That is awful to even write let alone read! I cannot believe people can really write those words and not think about how that person would feel.
    Why can't people just be nice or say nothing at all! Will we ever see that day?! I don't think we ever will.
    I love your moral of the story, I totally agree with it!

    Sonam - http://fashtasticflare.blogspot.co.uk/

  14. Im inspired by your resilience against these comments, i think that have the right to express their opinions online, but in terms of hate, should only go so far as to say things they actually would to whoever they're commenting about in real life, and for most of your comments, in sure they never would. love this :)

    -Genevieve (Vievelle)

  15. Bloody hell! Reading those horrible tweets just broke my heart! So sorry you had to go through that! Although, you can clearly see that none of their comments had any valid argument. If I were you, I'd be laughing at their stupidity now. You are right to flag this up, social media has become such a normality in the past 5 years that I think people forget about the reality of life beyond and how it can effect others and themselves.
    I'm really loving your blog right now. It looks so nice and it's so good to see all the opportunities that you've been given recently.
    Take care x x

    Little Katie


  16. Sometimes I honestly can't believe what I see on the internet and really don't understand how a simple tweet expressing a valid opinion can lead to such vile, angry responses from people. I find it really quite scary. It's actually quite sad that I often don't bother to tweet my opinions about possibly touchy subjects (or even about a particular YouTuber with a huge fan girl following) for fear of the abuse I may end up receiving x

    Becky @ The Little Blog of Beauty

  17. Figuring out which platforms fit your business and how to manage them is no easy feat. There are a lot of moving parts to consider from both a social and business standpoint.
    Magent oCodewire @Magento Extension Development


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