Sample Paper on Social Media and Online Communities: Deconstructing the Conventional Social Construct
Technological advancements have enabled humans to usher in a new era socially, economically, and politically. Specifically, these advancements have enabled humans to deconstruct some of the social norms and conventional social construct parameters. Geographical distance, which for many decades had been a communication barrier, has been brought with new ways of communication, especially social media platforms. Online or virtual communities are fast replacing conventional communities as people are increasingly opting online networks (Marche 2012). Social media symbolizes what Richard Tarnas termed as “the modern mind’s own impersonal soullessness that has been projected from within onto the world” (Tarnas 1993, p. 432). It has created a new reality, a new social construct that has significantly changed the behavior of youths. This essay will look at social media and young people by applying the idea of social constructionism. Firstly, the essay will discuss how social media changed the way people construct the world, then the essay will talk about problems that social media constructed and finally, the essay will show how social media has affected young people in a negative way.
Effects of Social Media on Youths
The new social networks and online communities have redefined how humans relate. This evolution is a platform for understanding the evolution of world’s self-revelation (Tarnas 1993). While most of these have been positive, the rapid adoption of the online community as a social norm has negatively impacted the establishment of genuine relationships between humans. Online communities have redefined the realms of realism, conjuring up a reality marked incessant quest for instant self-gratification and what philosopher Freud Sigmund described as narcissism (1914).
By studying social constructionism, we learn that “all ways of understanding are historically and culturally relative” (Burr 20015, p. 4). What it means is that our ancestors understood the world differently from how we understand now and how our children will understand it. Burr also argues that “not only are they specific to particular cultures and periods of history, they are products of that culture and history, dependent upon the particular social and economic arrangements prevailing in that culture at that time” (Burr 2015, p.4). Social media is the key force that changed how people see the world in the twenty-first century. Our relationship now are being constructed online’ information is now received from online source and from the social media. The way people buy products has change and now it is through the internet. Companies use the social media to sell the products and make the people believe in them. The way the young people study has also changed. The unites are now online and even the assessment are now done and marked on the internet, students do group social work through the social media. That means that social construct of education has evolved with time.
At the same time, as Burr (2015, p. 4) writes, “we should not assume that our ways of understanding are necessarily any better, in terms of being any nearer the truth, than other ways.” Social media created not only good and useful opportunities but also problems. Young people often are addicted to social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, SnapChat and Tinder) and it takes their attention from studies. As well, young people know that they can find anything on the Internet and some of them do not put efforts into searching sources, reading the books for themselves and thinking about it. Young people prefer to take everything in an easy way and hence there is a problem plagiarism, when students copy and paste from sources without acknowledging them. There is a social construct shared by many young people that there is no need to spend time on studying in-depth and one can simply win their marks by cheating.
Another problem that social media created is online abuse, bullying, crime and brainwashing. Social media can be used by radical groups to brainwash young people and make them believe in their ideas are the only right ones. Bullying is also very harmful for young people. Facebook can be used by haters to embarrass people, call them to commit suicide, abuse them verbally. Online bullying can have a serious impact on young on their ability to study, mental health, and conduct (Smith 2011; BBC News 2011; Hinduja & Patchin 2010).
Also, Leeds-Hurwitz (2009. p 3) writes that “The emphasis on language as the most important system through which reality is constructed”. Social media has impacted the language of young people in a negative way. Young people use only short sentences, they cut the words, they use smileys, they swear and use slang. Young do not know academic English and this will impact their thinking and communication and studies. They cannot advocate their own rights and the rights of others. They are at higher risk of these negative effects because they are vulnerable: they are inexperienced and have low threshold of discerning what is right or wrong. Additionally, they are impulsive and susceptible to peer pressure (Lenhart et al. 2010).
Human beings are intrinsically designed to desire having close relationships: confidants. Confidants play a significant role in human life: they boost confidence through their assurances, and most significantly, they act as emotional outlets during challenging times. Therefore, filling this role require establishing strong friendship marked by physical contact and face-to-face communication. While social media has accelerated communication, it lacks the ability to foster such strong bonds between individuals. The resultant social bonding through virtual friends in online communities is weak and in some cases, fake. Social media and online communities have propelled us to live “in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become the lonelier we are” (Marche 2012). We are happy online and sad and lonely in the real world despite having thousands of “friends” in our online communities. This is what Richard Tarnas believes is the irony of post-modern man. He opines that while humans believe that they have established a perfect system that interprets and paints the world around them as a mechanistic entity, the reality points to a significantly different disposition. The recreation amounts to nothing more than just a construct that is subjective of the human mind (1993, p. 432).
The advent of social media marked a paradigm shift in human communication and, consequently, human social behavior. The communication capability of social media is unrivalled. However, it has redefined human social behavior, including leading to a sedentary lifestyle while promoting self-centeredness and narcissistic tendencies. The young adults and preteens are most vulnerable because of their susceptibility to peer pressure and inability to discern the moral and ethical complications associated with social media.
Social media is increasingly redefining how the youths behave. The proclivity of humans to desire close relationships such as personal confidants, which are important social constructs, is increasingly being deconstructed and reconstructed. For the youths and preteens, social media has come will a lot of challenges including cyberbullying and trolling. These online vices present significant mental health challenges to the youths including increasing cases of suicides and self-injury. It affects their self-esteem too. Their learning process and platforms have been radicalized and inhibited their capability to comprehend formal communication language. Moreover, the ease of access of information online affects their academic performance as some students opt for online communities instead of spending time reading. Understanding these new social constructs is critical in ensuring that important issues associated with social media can be tackled.
Ashraf, N & Javed, T 2014. “Impact of social networking on employee performance.” Business Management Strategy, vol. 5, no. 2.
BBC News. 2011. “Sean Duffy case highlights murky world of trolling.” Available from: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-14897948>. [10 May 2017].
Burr. V 2015, Social constructionism, Taylor and Francis, Hove, East Sussex.
Freud, S 1914. On narcissism. In The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the history of the psycho-analytic movement, papers on metapsychology and other works (pp. 67-102). London: The Hogarth Press.
Haslam, DW & James, WP 2005. “Obesity.” Lancet, vol. 366, no. 9492, pp. 1197–209.
Hinduja, S & Patchin, JW 2010. “Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide.” Arch Suicide Res,
vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 206 – 221.
Leeds-Hurwitz, W 2009, ‘social construction of reality’. In W Littlejohan& KA Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Communication Theory, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, viewed 30 May 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412959384.n344.
Lenhart, A, Purcell, K, Smith, A & Zickur, K 2010. Available from:
[10 May 2017].
Marche, S 2011. Is Facebook making us lonely? Available from: <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/>. [10 May 2017].
Smith, G 2011. Why do trollers do what they do? Available from: <http://www.trollingacademy.org/online-safety-sociability/112/why-trollers-do-what-they-do/>. [10 May 2017].
Tarnas, R 1993. The passion of the Western mind: Understanding the ideas that have shaped our world view. Ballantine Books.
WHO, 2013, “Obesity.” Available from: <http://www.who.int/topics/obesity/en/>. [10 May 2017].