Social media has many uses, and even makes for a lovely scapegoat. Recently, a number of dangerous dares and challenges on social media have prompted people to ask, again, is social media bad for us?
Some folks take the stance that social media can promote reckless behavior. In a sense, this is true. However, it’s not that social media inherently makes people do crazy and foolish things. Social media just gives people a much larger audience. It’s a way to share thoughts, ideas, and yes, unwise challenges with huge numbers of people.
Lighting yourself on fire, choking on spoonfuls of cinnamon, disappearing without a trace for 72 hours, smoking booze, and sealing your lips in a vacuum all sound like torture to most, but those are just a few of the dangerous fads that are being spread on social media.
People have been doing foolish and questionable things since the dawn of time. Social media just makes it easier to show off those questionable behaviors with friends, friends of friends, your neighbor’s grandmother, and some guy in Brazil. That’s not an attempt to trivialize the fact that people are putting themselves in danger, and through likes, shares, and views, are receiving approval for their actions. But it’s hard to single out social media as the culprit.
Social media is just as useful for spreading positive message and awareness as it is for promoting reckless challenges. If someone writes a book glorifying self-immolation, you don’t blame books, you blame the author and the people who think it’s a good idea to follow that advice.
Social media is used for getting information out to large numbers of people quickly and efficiently. It allows you to reach a huge audience that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise reach. That’s why social media is a such a great tool for marketing.
Facebook now has over 1 billion active users. Instagram has 100 million active users. Twitter has over 300 million active monthly users. LinkedIn has over 350 million users. True, you’re not going to reach one billion people when you advertise your business on Facebook, but social media gives you a chance to reach far more people than legacy marketing. It’s an essential part of your online marketing strategy, and it’s not inherently evil.
It’s a shame that social media is sometimes used to promote dangerous behavior, but you have to fault the people who are misusing it rather than social media itself.