Social Media: Bringing Us Together or Tearing Us Apart?

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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How it works

Social media is defined as “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking,” according to the Oxford Dictionary (1). Social media brings like-minded people together, thus allowing them to share common interests and advocate for worthy causes. On the other hand, social media can also lead to isolation and cyberbullying. Therefore, social media can either bring people together or tear them apart.

Benefits of Social Media

The general idea of social networks, such as Facebook, is to allow users to create profiles about themselves where they can share interests, photos, and even thoughts with their group of friends.

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More recently, fan pages have become popular, where users can bond over TV shows, movies, books, and even celebrities they like or dislike. It is an interactive way of having relationships with anyone, from close friends and family to people all over the world who you have never met in person but who share similar interests. This (mostly) seamless interaction and connectivity bring awareness to prominent causes such as world hunger, poverty, and human rights.

Through social media, awareness campaigns, as well as fundraisers and petitions to amend laws, gain exposure from users that spread the news and keep the dialogue alive. A recent movement that has taken advantage of the Twitter platform and has gained momentum and maximum exposure is the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and violence. Prominent figures have also joined the conversation and showed their support for diverse causes by giving speeches, organizing marches, and performing fundraising concerts.

The Downsides of Social Media

Notwithstanding the benefits of social media, there are many downsides, too, especially when dealing with social isolation. Social isolation occurs in two ways; first, because online interaction through social media platforms is so appealing, face-to-face interaction of people has become almost nonexistent. Every interaction revolves around what is posted on networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram, thus making the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” more relevant now than ever. Furthermore, online interactions have moved from long e-mails to short text messages to a single caption accompanying a photograph.

The second way that social media has led to isolation is through cyberbullying, which is stronger and more pervasive than regular bullying. The migration of bullying from the real world into the digital one has proven disastrous since before; the actual bullying stopped as soon as the victim went home or escaped the bully. But the internet allows the bully to continue 24/7 attacks and even promotes a mob mentality in which others join in just for fun. Sometimes the bullies do not even know the person they are targeting; they simply have access to their social media accounts and feel the need to make their voices heard.

Because bullies can be anonymous, they don’t fear getting caught, so they launch a harsher attack than the one they would have perpetrated in person. For example, one person can comment negatively on a photo posted to social media, and almost instantly, there will be more people chiming in with their unsolicited negative opinions. There is no escape because even when you turn your computer off, on many occasions, this bullying extends toward the victim’s physical environment as well.

Measures to Balance Social Media’s Impact

How social media is used, by whom, and for what purpose plays a large role in determining the impact it will have on society. Since the world is so vast and diverse, it is hard to pinpoint exactly the direction social media is guiding us towards. To say definitively that social media leans more towards its utopian potential versus its dystopian potential is difficult because of the many factors one has to consider while making this determination. Factors that make social media great also make it unscrupulous.

For instance, the freedom that social media platforms offer for unlimited self-expression can easily take a turn for the worst when a seemingly innocent comment evolves into harassment. On the other hand, this same freedom for self-expression can turn a negative situation or experience into a support group or movement to prevent the incident from advancing further.

Developments in Moderating Content

There have been several measures put in place by developers in an attempt to balance the effects of social media on society. For example, privacy features allow users to control who gets access to their profiles; this aims to prevent people who have bad intentions the ability to target someone on their personal profile.

Another measure put in place to offset destructive behavior is filters and moderators, whose jobs are to look for and block content that is meant to cause harm. Lastly, people who constantly exhibit malicious behavior are blocked from access to social media sites, and their accounts are disabled. While these steps have been implemented with the best of intentions, they don’t always work to their full potential as people quickly look for workarounds. In an age where most people are well-versed in the use of technology and social media, it is easy to simply create another account and continue to use it for the wrong reasons. Ultimately, social media can be both beneficial and detrimental to society; there is no either.


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  2. Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer?Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210-230.
  3. Smith, A. N., Fischer, E., & Yongjian, C. (2012). How does brand-related user-generated content differ across YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter? Journal of Interactive Marketing, 26(2), 102-113.
  4. Tufekci, Z. (2017). Twitter and tear gas: The power and fragility of networked protest. Yale University Press.
  5. Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S. adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-17.
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Social media: bringing us together or tearing us apart?. (2023, Jun 21). Retrieved from