Social Media Explained, Seriously

Still having a hard time understanding what all the social media fuss is about? Having grown tired of hearing your family tell you that you need to be on Facebook (or Pinterest or LinkedIn or fill in the blank) are you convinced that it’s not worth your time?

Tools for connecting with others have often been considered frivolous before being accepted as a necessity. When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, most people considered it no more than a toy. Today, our smartphones do far more than transmit speech; they are small but powerful computers.

For some, social media is still considered a frivolity. But by better understanding what is is, we can also begin to see social media’s value. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines social media as “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).”

But that’s just a definition. What, exactly, does social media do?

According to ProCon.org, a nonprofit organization that presents research and studies on questions related to social networking and its impact on society, here are seven positive things that social networking (using social media) does:
  • Social networking sites allow people to improve their relationships
    and make new friends.
  • Being a part of a social networking site can increase a person’s quality of life
    and reduce the risk of health problems.
  • Social networking sites help students do better at school.
  • Law enforcement uses social networking sites
    to catch and prosecute criminals.
  • Social media sites help employers find employees
    and job-seekers find work.
  • Social networking sites increase voter participation.
  • Social networking sites help senior citizens
    feel more connected to society.

Is social media bad? It can be. But understanding what it is and what it can do is an important first step toward using it for good – for yourself and for others.

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