02.09.2020 in Sociology

Does Social Media Help People to Communicate with Each Other

Nowadays, the easiest way to reach a person is to contact him or her via one of the social media platforms, and this means of communication is very popular all around the globe, especially among young people. Many people consider social media to be harmful to the society, but there are also many people who are aware of their advantages. Social media platforms can be of great advantage to the communication among teenagers, employees in a company, and customers. However, as a communication tool, social media also has disadvantages, such as the negative influence on people’s emotional state and the inability to realize the true motifs of another person online.  

Social media usage can be especially beneficial for teenagers’ communication. Most of the teenagers use social networking websites to communicate with people who they are acquainted with. Via these platforms, they can become familiar with the ethics of online communication, which can be helpful to them in the future, when they go to college or find a job. The more they communicate online, the more rules they will learn. As a result, in an adult life, they can avoid some misunderstandings and awkward situations while communicating online with their group-mates and colleagues. There are individuals for whom online communication may be essential. For instance, some people have hobbies or interests that are not very common. Social media platforms provide such people with a possibility to become acquainted and unite in groups, where they can discuss the topics that are related to these interests. “They can publicize and distribute their work to online audiences and become sort of microexpert in that area”. Maybe no one but one boy is fond of vintage cars or fishing, or anything else in school. Social media can help such people not to be isolated, but share their views with people who are keen on the same things. It is likely that the rare hobby will turn into a well-paid profession, and a person will benefit from it.

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Many employers consider it rather advantageous to allow their employees to use social media at work. However, not all business executives understand that such websites can help their businesses to thrive: “Nearly half of all U.S. companies still ban workers from using social networking sites while on the job”. With the help of social media, employees can share some questions and answers. They can also do it via emails, but in this case, only two people will benefit from receiving valuable pieces of advice. Sometimes there are crisis situations and, in such cases, social media platforms allow employees to react quickly on certain issues. If employees use social media in an effective way, then a company can save some money on postage, paper, and printing, which might be relevant to start-up companies. In multinational corporations, these platforms allow employees to eliminate communication barriers that exist due to long distances between their branches. These websites also let organizations to get in touch with Millennials – young people who are used to spending much time online. Some companies prefer to use social media in order to motivate their employees in a more creative and latter-day way. Besides, engaged employees can work more efficiently, which is a great competitive advantage disregarding the type of a company. 

Marketers consider social media to be crucial for building relationship with their clients. Truly, when communicating with customers, these platforms are more effective than emails, contact forms, and phone calls. Customers often wish to contact a representative of a company when they frustrated for some reason. In such cases, they would like to clarify the situation as soon as possible, and social media lets them do it. If someone responds quickly to a customer’s request, then this customer is more likely to stay satisfied and return to this particular company because it is important to clients how a company handles difficult situations. According to DeMers, “People tend to favor dealing with other people rather than corporations”. When customers contact a company via social media, a person responds them, but not a computer program that generates emails automatically. Social media lets companies become less impersonal and, consequently, increase the number of new clients. These platforms are not only a means to communicate with the clients of a company effectively, but also a means to promote the brand. Clients’ friends can notice the brand and easily contact a representative of the company if they are interested in this brand. 

When social media usage becomes excessive, a person can experience depression, and this fact is not advantageous at all. It ceased to be just an assumption when scientists conducted an actual research to find it out. Previous studies related to the link between social media and depression were not broad-ranged because they were based on either limited samples or a single website. The new research included the information that was obtained from different social media platforms that were popular among young people. According to Cawis, “The researchers sampled more than 1,787 U.S. young adults with the age of 19 to 32”. To determine the presence of depression, researchers found out the participants’ housing conditions, income, gender, grade level, race, ethnicity, and relationship status. Researchers conducted this study with the help of special questionnaires that examined how often the participants used social media. These questionnaires included questions about eleven most popular social media websites. On average, the participants spent sixty-one minute every day on one of these websites. They visited different websites approximately thirty times a week. Scientists revealed that more than twenty-five percent of the participants were depressed. One of the scientists suggested that social media is not always responsible for people’s depression; in some cases, people who already go through depression start visiting social media websites more frequently in an attempt to deal with their emotional state.    

Another disadvantage of social media is that people are not able to indicate the true attitude of a person with whom they interact online. As Siegel (n.p.) explains, when two individuals communicate face-to-face, they can share eye contact, observe each other’s facial expressions, notice each other’s tone of voice, consider each other’s posture and gestures, and take into account timing and intensity of each other’s responses. All these factors let the two people better understand not only their ideas, but also motives. These non-verbal expressions are crucial for people’s communication because they make it possible for a person to learn who is a friend, and who is an enemy, that is a person whose attitude is negative for some reason. When two people communicate via, for instance, Facebook, their communication is verbal only and, consequently, it is somewhat limited. Surely, emoticons assist people in expressing their attitudes online. However, it is easier to lie with the help of emoticons than with one’s own facial expression. A person can send a smiling emoticon and cry at the same time, and to the contrary. Some people may use this limited communication to trick someone, and such tricks are not always harmless. 

Today, social media provides people with unique hobbies to communicate with those who have similar interests. These platforms can be rather helpful for companies because they let their employees solve problems faster. These websites also let companies communicate more effectively with their clients and promote their brands. However, there is evidence that a person who uses these websites can become depressed. Besides, the inability to express the thoughts non-verbally prevents a person from understanding everything that is said online. Thus, as a means of communication, social media has certain pros, but there are cons, as well.

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