How social is social media?

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How social is social media?  

I came across an article, which raised the question ‘how social is social media?’ It made me think and there are a few things that I noticed, but to which I do not have an answer.

Social Media can be fun, but it can be a little bit less fun when you see things you don’t want to see. Or when you get bullied, stalked, see videos about war and refugees these days… Cyber bullying is bigger then bullying at school, mostly because of the increase in social media. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to know the news and what is going on. But there is a difference between reading a newspaper – whether that is online of offline – and scrolling down your Facebook page and see images you’d rather not see. Should you have a choice in what you want to see? Should there be some kind of filter so you can avoid messages related to the topic you don’t want to see? Do you make Social Media more or less social by avoiding those things you don’t want to see? Because, what’s left without it? Should Social Media only be fun?

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For example the Dutch ‘Zwarte Piet’ discussion. In the Netherlands we have a feast similar to Christmas, only called ‘Sinterklaas’. The discussion is about racism and that Zwarte Pieten (black pete) is discrimination and that the Zwarte Pieten reminds people of slavery. People have set up a Facebook page called ‘Pietitie’ where you can sign if you want the ‘Zwarte Pieten’ to stay. The discussion is still going, but opinions differ. Of course there should be freedom of speech, but you can go to far with it.

On the other side, social media is getting more and more commercial. We are used to the advertisements, but what is so social about these advertisements? It is all about marketing, integrating advertisement into social media and calling it social commerce. Did you know that 86% of the people have used social media for customer service and 1.000.000 people view customer service related tweets every day? Social media is thought to be a better customer service platform than a call centre. And 32% of the people who used social media to get in touch with the customer service, expects a response within 30 minutes. Social media needs to be quick and useful.

There are a lot of different reasons to use social media. I came across a funny infographic about the social media use between men and women. Women are more likely to use social media to stay in touch with family and friends, to share photos, for entertainment and self-help, while men use social media more for business reasons and dating compared to women. To me social media is mostly about getting in touch with friends, interaction and entertainment. But, as it seems, social media is so much more then these things. It is about news, about advertisement and customer service. So in a way it is social. But how social? What is social media to you?


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