Has social media made the world worse? | The Tylt

Has social media made the world worse?

Social media has become an integral part of human life, dominating the most mundane things in life to the highest office in the land. Proponents of social media say humans have never been more connected. People are building new communities and finding ways to make the world a better place through social media platforms. Critics say social media has a dark side that outweighs the good; people are stuck in echo chambers and social media is becoming weaponized. What do you think?

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Has social media made the world worse?
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Has social media made the world worse?
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Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision for Facebook's future and addressed some concerns about social media in this open letter. Zuckerberg envisions a future where the world builds bigger and better communities with Facebook's help. People are finding new ways to connect and bond through social media. 

Online communities are a bright spot, and we can strengthen existing physical communities by helping people come together online as well as offline. In the same way connecting with friends online strengthens real relationships, developing this infrastructure will strengthen these communities, as well as enable completely new ones to form.

Social media enables people to find and build solidarity in ways that were previously unimaginable. People who thought themselves to be completely alone are able to find others and build communities together. This is the power of social media. 

A woman named Christina was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa -- and now she's a member of a group that connects 2,400 people around the world so none of them have to suffer alone. A man named Matt was raising his two sons by himself and he started the Black Fathers group to help men share advice and encouragement as they raise their families. In San Diego, more than 4,000 military family members are part of a group that helps them make friends with other spouses. These communities don't just interact online. They hold get-togethers, organize dinners, and support each other in their daily lives.
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Social media puts power into the hands of grassroots activist and organizers. Activists are able to reach and organize thousands of people at next to no cost—all that's needed is a good message.

You could look at it this way: The movement of the ’60s needed a big institutional structure to make things work—in part because of the limitations of the tech at the time. Now that kind of structure has come to seem vestigial. After Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri, and the city became a lightning rod for activism, Mckesson says he had a kind of epiphany about movement-building: “We didn’t need institutions to do it,” he says. Social media could serve as a source of live, raw information. It could summon people to the streets and coordinate their movements in real time. And it could swiftly push back against spurious media narratives with the force of a few thousand retweets.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement may be one of the most successful examples of activists successfully using social media to campaign for their concerns. Many of these activists used their online success to create real change in their communities. 

Still, this movement, as diffuse and protean as it may seem, has mounted some of the most potent civil rights activism since the ’60s. It helped secure the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol. It helped pressure the federal government to investigate police practices in Ferguson and Baltimore. It has successfully pushed Democratic presidential contenders to come forward with policy proposals on the issues that specifically concern black people in America. And an offshoot of the movement, a project called Campaign Zero that was organized in part by Mckesson, has put forward a bunch of specific policy proposals to uproot police violence. A huge reason for all this success is that, perhaps more than any other modern American protest movement, they’ve figured out how to marshal today’s tools.
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In the same way that social media has connected the world, it has also made people more isolated. The algorithms on social media are designed to serve a user content that they would enjoy in a timely way. This makes sense for the most part—no one wants to be shown old videos they don't care about. The side effect of filtering content this way is people are only shown what they like, creating an echo chamber of ideas. 

The mute function on Twitter works in the same way; these are symbolic gestures that remove someone’s content from your view. You’ll never have to have a conversation about why you defriended someone or unfollowed them. There will be no discussion about your differing ideologies — they can’t even explain to you why they disagree. There will be no meeting ground or understanding, and no one will come away from it wiser, better, or changed. It is a closing of a loop.
Instead, we construct ever-narrower networks within these platforms, composed of people who think and talk and post like us. The result, of course, is a safe sounding board of people who think and act and vote and say things like you. The things that make us feel good, and correct.
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Social media's influence has been felt in war too. People are taking advantage of social media's ability to spread ideas to drive virulent ideologies that are tearing communities apart. 

The internet has long been celebrated for its power to bring people together. Yet as it turns out, this same technology is easily weaponized. Smartphones and social apps have clearly altered the nuts and bolts of violent conflict, from recruiting to battlefield reporting. But the greatest effects may be more fundamental, expanding the causes and possibly the incidence of war, and extending its reach. Social-media platforms reinforce “us versus them” narratives, expose vulnerable people to virulent ideologies, and inflame even long-dormant hatreds. They create massive groundswells of popular opinion that are nearly impossible to predict or control.

For every feel good story about social media, there's another that shows how horrible humans can be to one another. Online harassment continues to take new and surprising forms. 

The duality of human nature is readily apparent when social media fixates on conflict. Thanks to the internet, war crimes have been laid bare by citizen reporters examining evidence from thousands of miles away, and a voice has been given to suffering civilians who previously had none. Strangers can be moved to tears by the image of a drowned Syrian toddler washing up on the shores of Turkey, and the world has never seemed so small. But social media has also opened new avenues for extraordinary cruelty. In January, Syrian-regime loyalists, learning of a rebel-held town that was starving under siege, taunted the residents by posting pictures of what they were eating for dinner.

Social media also enables people to fight over the nature of reality itself. We're already beginning to see this in the U.S. where 8 percent of Democrats approve of Trump, but a whopping 84 percent of Republicans do approve. Just as social media can bring out the best in humans, it can also bring out the worst.  

All of these efforts share the same two broad objectives. The first is to overwhelm the state’s adversaries, be they foreign or domestic, with misinformation: to challenge the very basis of their reality. But the second is just as important: to mobilize their own citizens and supporters and bind them to the state. The power of social media is used to intensify nationalism and demonize the enemy. In this strategy, homophily is not something to be feared or avoided. It is the goal.
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Post by Ayanna Alexander.
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Post by Cake Moss.
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FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Has social media made the world worse?
A festive crown for the winner
#SocialMediaSucks
#SocialMediaEmpowers