The media is one of the most powerful agents in modern society. It provides people with information, serves as the lens though which individuals make sense of the world, and enables the society to focus on certain issues that are deemed important. In the past, information was primarily communicated though traditional mass media channels such as TV, radio, and print.
These channels had a lot of power and influence over society due to their monopoly on information. However, advances in computer technology and the internet have led to the development of a new form of media know as social media. Social media makes use of community-based input fostered by interactions among users to provide information to society.
Over the past few years, social media has become a significant accompaniment to and sometimes alternative to traditional media. Millions of people use social media to keep in touch with friends, obtain current information, and engage in discussions.
As a member of the youth at my community, I spend many hours looking at social media websites online and I visit many interacting websites that talk about many topics in our daily life. Many of them conclude politics, race, and cultural discussion.
Many of the people that express their feelings come from different backgrounds and lifestyle. Our ideas collide with each other, which result in an unclear understanding of the matters. This essay will express how these effects can change a person opinion about different topics, and a fault statement can change a person opinion on a matter.
How Social Media influences Opinion
Social media assists people to influence each other by providing a platform through which people can communicate with each other. Social media has led to a marked increase in the level of interaction among people. This interaction has been fostered since social media is built around interconnectivity (Himelboim 93). Individuals are encouraged to share information with other people and engage in private and public conversations.
Advocates of social media claim that the interaction promoted by social media has led to the development of stronger ties among individuals. This claim is based on the premise that higher levels of interaction promote better understanding among interacting individuals.
Through social media, people who would otherwise lack the time or opportunity to meet are able to keep in touch. However, the assumption that increased interaction leads to stronger ties and the dispelling of stereotypical views is wrong. While social media promotes interaction among individuals, the quality of these interactions is low.
The likelihood of disputes arising on social media is high due to the different opinions that individuals hold. Social media provides a platform of individuals from differing socio-economic background to come together and engage each other in discussions. These people may be from different races, religions, and political affiliations. These people are likely to express feelings that will be in conflict with each other.
Disputes are a normal experience in life and they may even promote personal growth and better understanding. However, these positive outcomes of disputes can only be felt if the conflicts are handled in an amicable manner. In social media, most individuals do not know each other personally. They, therefore, fail to observe basic decorum when dealing with each other.
Albrechtslund notes that in the social media platform, users, especially the young, do not exercise restraint when airing their opinions (2). Social media users are likely to offer thoughts that are uncensored and of an offensive nature without giving thought to the greater implications of their words. A person’s opinion on an issue will be negatively impacted when it is presented in this hostile environment.
There is a lack of objectivity in most social media forums leading to the presentation of biased information. For supporters of social media, the lack of strict regulations is one of the main attractions of social media. These advocates argue that without restrictions, people are able to air their uncensored opinions and spark debate on important issues.
Himelboim notes that social media can be used to spark political interest in individuals who previously did not have any interest in politics (95). By visiting political discussion forums, people are able to see the opinion of their fellow citizens on the political process in the country. When discussing politics, social media enables individuals to criticize the government without fear since there is no restraint.
However, the lack of restraint might lead to wrong information. Unlike in traditional media where political forums are balanced and the information provided is of an unbiased nature, majority of the political forums formed in social media are biased and do not attempt to present a balanced view of the topic.
Instead, individuals provide biased opinions that are meant to favor their own political opinions or parties. A person who takes the opinions provided on social media as the truth is likely to make faulty decisions since the opinions are often prejudiced.
The ability to respond to information immediately leads to the formation of hasty opinions that might be wrong since they are not based on deep contemplation. A key characteristic of social media is that it allows users to interact with events and news instantaneously. Supporters of social media claim that this is a positive attribute since it allows people to offer their opinion on matters and become engaged in the public conversation.
Unlike in traditional media where people were passive recipients of news, social media allows public members to make their voice heard immediately. However, this supposed positive attribute leads to some significant setbacks. To begin with, people often react to the news provided without taking their time to engage in critical thinking. The opinions offered by most people are often shallow and driven by emotions.
Wintour reveals that social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter offer users with short messages that are mostly of a sensational nature (par. 2). Since there is no cohesive narrative, individuals react impulsively to the information provided.
This paper set out to discuss the effect of social media on the making of snap judgments. It began by highlighting that social media has become an important platform for obtaining news and interacting. The paper then discussed some of the ways in which social media leads to the formation of faulty opinions. It also highlighted how the interactive nature of social media might contribute to disagreements and wrong decision making by people.
From the points made in this paper, it is clear that social media has an impact on the decision-making process of individuals. In some cases, it provides the information that individuals use in their decision-making. Social media leads to the development of faulty perception on some topics and it can lead to wrong snap judgments.
With these considerations, it is important for people to exercise caution when they are consuming information from social media. In addition to this, it would be helpful for people to avoid making hasty decisions in reaction to information provided through social media networks.
Albrechtslund, Anders. “Online social networking as participatory surveillance”. FirstMonday 13.3(2008): 1-6. Web. 25 Feb. 2012.
Himelboim, Itai. “Social Media and Online Political Communication: The Role of Interpersonal Informational Trust and Openness.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56.1 (2012): 92–115. Web. 25 Feb. 2012.
Wintour, Patrick. “Facebook and Bebo risk ‘infantilising’ the human mind”. The Guardian, 24 February 2009, Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/feb/24/social-networking-site-changing-childrens-brains>.