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Benefits of social mediaEducational, awareness purposesSocial media sites are expanding from general interest to more specific uses that benefit society. For example, sites have been created for medical purposes such as dealing with life altering diseases, alcoholism, drug addiction, weight loss, and autism. The active social media presence has allowed the common populace to contribute to expert discussions through comments, tweets and even ideation contests, such as the Raffles Institution student who won an award for her comprehensive explanation of scientific concepts on YouTube. Connectivity: friends and experts60 million Americans received help with major life issues (changing jobs, finding a new place to live, buying a car, and caring for someone with an illness) from people in their social networks in 2006. These people said social networking sites helped them connect with friends and experts who assisted in their decisions. Activism? Driver of social changeSocial media has become a powerful driver of this because of the safety zone it creates, a halfway space between in-person conversation and anonymous exchange. Coming out for LGBT people Dangers of social mediaAnonymityAnonymity of online posting leads to disinhibition amongst individualsSocial networking sites have no way to verify that people are who they claim to be, leaving people vulnerable to solicitations from online predators who are able to mask their true identities.In an effort to reduce uncivil behavior by increasing accountability, many web sites (e.g. Reuters, Facebook, and Gizmodo) now require commenters to register their names and e-mail addresses. Becoming defined by statistics: likes, shares and followsGoing online to seek validation and define ourselvesSocial media exacerbates this validation in the form of likes and shares, causing us to relinquish our people to affirm ourselves and making us dependent on external measurements to affirm our self-worthNarcissism in millennialsPlatform for comparison and competition instead of a platform for positive affirmation: fosters aggressive competitiveness and bitterness, jealousy and envy Going viral for the wrong reasonsInadvertently becoming a target for criticism and hateThese days, the consequences for missteps made in the virtual world are carried over to the real world. Jokes found to be offensive may go viral and lead to angry messages, phone calls and death threats being made.Real world consequences include job lossIn 2012 student Liam Stacey was jailed after making racist remarks on Twitter about footballer Fabrice Muamba. He later apologised but said he paid a huge price after becoming a national hate figure.Every time you write something on social media it’s got the potential of being around forever. Even if you delete it someone else may have downloaded, recorded or screen-grabbed it. You never know when it might catch up with you.In 2015, Huw Thomas, a Labour election candidate for Ceredigion, had to apologise for comments he’d made on a forum nine years earlier. BRAINWASHING: empowers the misled to mislead othersPeople today are capable of creating their own websites and professional blogs to mislead others into believing what they put out on the web.Prevalence of fake news sites has allowed naysayers to unite and be in solidarity against particular issues they are insistent on denying, such as climate change.US President Donald Trump has a reputation for encouraging his followers to only subscribe to and believe the “news” that he has filtered through his Twitter account, which has gained an immense following.Social media enables Trump to publish what he wants people to see, potentially misleading the lowest common denominator of the populationBUT there are encouraging signs of politicians like Barack Obama and celebrities like Ariana Grande utilising improvements in social media to voice encouraging messages through Twitter YouTube, Twitter and other sharing platforms regularly pull the plug on terror-related content such as beheading videos carried out by ISIS militants on innocent civillians. Pseudoscience has also brainwashed the masses into believing that there are links between autism and vaccines or the fear that artificial intelligence is close to attaining sentience, despite the reality that is far from such speculation.

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