Social media’s polarizing effects felt by all
By Laurel Wade
Over the past decade, social media has become a more prominent feature in the lives of many. According to BroadbandSearch, the average person spent about 90 minutes everyday on social media in 2012. Today, that amount has almost doubled.
In its conception, social media’s primary purpose was to connect people across the internet. Now with the advancements of technology, social media corporations use data mining to keep users happy with their feeds. While allowing a better experience for users on social media, data mining also leads to a larger issue: confirmation bias. When users only find confirmation of their own beliefs on social media, they become less welcoming toward opposing opinions and ideas.
Statista.com created a study in Feb. 2020 stating that 48 percent of Americans view social media as a news source. Seventy three percent of people polled in BHS said they use social media and outside news sources for information.
According to a study from MindEdgeLearning, 48 percent of young adults believe that the online fake news problem has worsened in the past five years. Only 40 percent of graduates in 2018 were confident in their ability to discern fake news from real news.
In a recent student survey, 46.7 percent of respondents agree that people have become more divided because of social media. A good example of this division took place on Jan. 6, 2021 at the nation’s capital. It was a stark warning of the dangers that social media can have when gone unchecked.
Jennifer Grygiel, a communications professor and an expert on social media, said the events that took place are directly related to Trump’s use of social media to spread incorrect information and propaganda.
The recurring issue with social media is that misusing the platforms is not difficult to accomplish and can lead to danger and destruction. When used in smaller increments, social media can be a positive and fruitful experience; however, when too much time is spent, misinformation and fake news gets the best of most people.