Has social media changed the way in which we communicate for the better?

Here are two fantastic TED talks in which Jon Ronson and Sherry Turkle discuss the impact of social media on the ways in which we communicate in the 21st century.

Jon Ronson: When online shaming spirals out of control

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

What do you think of the way in which we communicate with each other now? Has social media had a positive impact?

235 comments

  1. Jennifer Hendry

    Prior to watching these Ted Talks, I believed it was clear that the communication occurring now is predominantly via social media and verbal conversations are less frequent than before. With it being easier and more efficient to send a quick message through WhatsApp rather than a longwinded verbal conversation, some say this change is positive. However, after watching these talks, I noticed the arising negatives clearly overrule the efficiency of social media and had to ask myself- has social media really changed for the better?
    A key point in Jon Ronson’s talk was the feeling of belonging, no matter the consequence. Due to one insensitive joke Justine Sacco made, it costed her reputation for the rest of her life. Ronson points out that the public enjoy the power social media hands to them and therefore that ‘power shifts fast’ into aggressive online harassment. Unfortunately, we, as users will admit to putting someone down for their actions as it makes us feel better about ourselves. This brings out a negative side of the internet where a community unites, however not for the right reasons as it helps us feel a sense of belonging even if we are not standing for what we believe in.
    Another upsetting truth about the media is that we are now feeling as though we do not need face to face interactions with our loved ones. In Shelly Turkle’s talk, she mentions the improvements to software’s such as Siri in which soon would be our new ‘best friend’ to confide in. Verbal conversations are already being sacrificed when it is easier for someone to click facetime. To me, this is a daunting idea where we lose relationships to form virtual ones in the hope that we are never lonely- a human’s worst fear.

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  2. Emelia Wall

    Before watching these TED talks I had a preconceived idea that social media is a powerful tool for communication, that nevertheless has is downfalls. What I learnt from these TED talks did not so much change this view, but instead highlighted the vast differences in people’s attitudes towards social media, especially the divide between those who grew up without it and those who grew up with it as an almost permanent presence.

    Ronson’s talk suggested that social media has the potential to create a polarised view of society, where we categorise people as “good” or “bad” based on the shared views of our social media circle. He demonstrated this with the story of Justine Sacco who was shamed on Twitter for posting something that was misinterpreted. This bears a striking resemblance to the “cancel culture” that is a great topic of discussion today. While I think that it is important that people who hold incredibly hateful and harmful views should not be able to spread these views, it is also important to have meaningful discussions in order to educate others. Justine Sacco’s story asks shows a group mentality that social media may be exaggerating, as anyone who tried to support Sacco was labelled as “bad”, just as Sacco herself was, because people are eager to go aling with the crowd. This is also the case in real life, but it is easier online because social media can allow you to create a new identity, which distances you from both the harmful things you say and their consequences. The people supporting Sacco and those shaming her became two distinct groups, so outsiders coming across the story probably got compelled to “choose a side”, thus creating polar opposite groups in which your “side” was “good” and the other was “bad”.

    Turkle’s talk highlighted the marked difference in the attitudes of different people towards social media and presented a generally negative view of social media, which is not a view with which I agree. Turkle belongs to a generation that has not grown up with social media, therefore her experience is very different to those of us who have grown up with it as a semi-permanent feature of our lives. She views social media as separate from real life, somewhere to escape to when life gets too much. I agree with this to a certain extent, but now, especially for younger generations, social media is increasingly becoming an extension of our real lives, which could rightly be argued as social media taking over our lives. This is shown perfectly when looking at how we communicate online and in real life. When I receive texts and emails from my parents they seem much more formal than they would be when speaking to me face to face, whereas my friends and I communicate in the same way online and in person. This shows how social media is gradually influencing our real lives, however I think our real lives are also slowly influencing our online lives and social media.
    There appears to be a flow of culture between real life and social media that just doesn’t seem to be present in any other forms of media, such as newspapers. Perhaps this is bad, because social media is taking over our lives, or perhaps it is good, because we are now exposed to many more cultures and ways of life. This type of exposure has been shown to increase tolerance between communities. This also allows people from marginalised groups to connect with one another in a safe space that may not exist for them in real life. On a similar note, this flow of culture allows for a flow of education from marginalised communities to wider society, which builds understanding of the issues they face, so society can work towards being more inclusive. For example, Turkle argues that face to face conversations are the best, but through social media I have learnt that for neurodivergent people (e.g. autism or ADHD) online comminution may feel more comfortable and even safer. Perhaps rather than reducing the quality of our communication, social media has made communication more accessible to different groups in society.

    Another important thing to note is the counted in which we use social media for communication. I would argue that suicidal media is more important than ever for communication, as COVID-19 lockdowns across the globe have made it very difficult to communicate in person.

    In conclusion, I agree with Robson’s suggestion that social media may be contributing to a more polarised society and that there is a need for discussion rather than “cancelling” people. However, I do not agree with Turkle’s view that social media has negatively affected our ability to truly communicate, but I recognise that my view differs based on my different experiences. Social media has definitely changed the way we communicate, but due to the vast differences in people lived and online experiences, it is impossible to say that this is all negative or all positive.

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  3. Sam Berrey

    Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever perspective you look at it from, it is reality that the majority of conversations and ‘interactions’ happen on social media or via FaceTime/Phone calls nowadays. It’s up for debate as to whether or not it’s for the better of humanity.
    I
    n Jon Ronson’s talk he alludes to the idea that it’s very easy to make a quick and rash judgement about someone based on the, sometimes irrational, opinion of others who they have likely never met or spoken to in their lifetime. He cleverly illustrates this through the story of Justine Sacco who unwillingly became the world number one trending hashtag on twitter after she tweeted a misinterpreted tweet whilst waiting for her flight to Africa. Whilst on her flight Justine was unaware to the fact that thousands of people had decided to jump on the band wagon of hurling abusive comments her way in order to make themselves feel bigger and stronger behind a screen to thousands of people who had the same idea. The problem with Justine’s tweet was that due to not being able to convey her tone of voice through the tweet it lead to the wrong interpretation being spread around. This is one of the reasons why personally I feel like the mass communication through social media platforms is a step back for humanity. In my opinion you cannot have a perception of the persons tone of voice as many people have different humours for example some people have a very sarcastic and sometimes offensive sense of humour which means when unable to read someone as they talk and analyse their body language it makes it extremely hard to detect whether it’s ‘light-hearted banter’ or that person actually has those views. Justine’s case is a prime example of when, due to social media, mixed messages can be sent and have huge consequences.

    In Turkle’s talk she expresses her negative view on social media and how, in her opinion, it has shaped a new society and normalised ‘being afraid of being alone’ which she thinks is a harmful trait to have. Turkle uses the phrase ‘connected, but alone’ which, to an extent, I agree with. I believe that social media is place to many people where they can go to in order to feel connected to others which I think is quite a harmful mindset to have because although you may feel connected you in reality may still be alone and feeling down. In my opinion you cannot beat a connection with someone in person as it leaves you feeling wanted, connected but not alone. I can see why Turkle has this view on social media as she comes from an older generation who did not grow up with social media like our generation has. When you grow up with something that is a big part of your life you don’t know anything different and sometimes view it with rose-tinted glasses on which can often do more bad than good. I think sometimes we do need to take a step back and evaluate whether these aspects of our lives are doing more harm than good.

    To conclude, I think that aspects of social media are good for humanity and bring great value and experience to our lives however what I don’t agree with is how the majority of our conversations and interactions are over social media platforms, I think humans have lost the art of conversation a little bit and if we’re not careful then it will slip away from us even more. In order to combat this problem we all need to change our mindset and strive for better, in person, relationships especially when we feel lonely rather than create a short-term solution to a deeper ingrained problem.

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  4. Louisa Howard

    I think that there are undoubtedly many positive aspects of social media in relation to communication. For example, the various high speed, popular platforms that allow us to generate, share and utilise information; giving us more knowledge, more quickly, therefore more power and control. In addition, social media is an effective tool for keeping in touch; growing businesses; allowing us to find partners and friends; accessing news and so much more. The remarkable complexity gives us boundless options, leaving no room for boredom!

    Turkle however, would argue that the rapid advancement of technology has led to unhealthy habits and problems surrounding human interaction, most poignantly for me: ‘sacrificing conversation for mere connection,’ ‘hiding from each other even though we are constantly connected to each other’ and being ‘lonely but afraid of intimacy’. Communication may now be easier and faster, but are we sacrificing our ability to live in and enjoy the present? Is the constant urge to continuously post, update, comment and in return crave approval online, impeding our ability to communicate effectively?

    Moreover, Jon Ronson’s speech outlines the potential catastrophic consequences of online shaming. Ronson uses the term ‘herd mentality’- referring to trolls maliciously uniting and favouring ‘ideology over humans’ demonstrating clearly, how online communication has the power to ruin lives. It could be argued that the internet gives a voice to the voiceless and is an outlet for some – a way to remove oneself from reality or pretend to be someone you are not. Ronson’s description of Twitter as a ‘mutual approval machine,’ supports this but also highlights the danger. I believe that power shifts quickly in the online world and people all-to-often abuse this power. This links to Turkle’s belief that technology and social media have denied us the ability to make room for and value, solitude. If we had more time for self-reflection, would we be kinder in the way that we communicate?

    In conclusion, despite the internet and social media opening doors to countless possibilities, I think that it is also a breeding ground for bullying, radical shaming, collective spite and the presentation of an altered reality that makes people question their own beliefs and sense of worth. I think that the way that its influence is gaining momentum and beginning to replace face-to-face communication, is a threat to the very core of our society.

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  5. Megg Kirk

    Before watching these TED talks I rarely considered the damage social media to such an extent. Being a teenager and a regular user of social media platforms I am aware of the biased views I hold, nevertheless I still feel that social media can be seen in both a positive and negative light.

    Firstly, Ronson’s view of social media being used to destroy others largely resonated with me. He explains how the Twitter platform was once used to ‘de-shame’ people and unity them in their weird but wonderful similarities. This gave people an opportunity to peacefully voice their opinions. However, Twitter has changed since then as it focuses mainly on the flaws of others and shaming people on their slight mistakes.

    Ronson then goes on to speak about a woman with the name of Jonah Lehrer who became somewhat of an ‘internet sensation’ when she went viral over a misinterpreted short post on Twitter. She posted something light hearted but which encompassed a serious matter. Because of this, people decided to use Lehrer’s vulnerability and transform it into power for themselves. This clearly exemplifies how social media now focuses on brining others down instead of lifting society up. Ronson argues that people are subjected to poor mental health and wellbeing through social media. He voices that people can be heavily verbally attacked for comments which often lead to symptoms of insomnia, depression and anxiety. Is the power of social media becoming more menacing than uplifting? Are we tearing each other down by building armies posting insensitive comments. Before this Twitter was used to enforce positivity and give people a voice. ‘The hunt is on for people’s shameful secrets’ represents how Twitter is being used today; as a destructive place.

    Turkle takes a similar approach as she speaks of the dark side of social media related to anti social behaviour. For instance, she says that at meal times parents will go on their phones instead of supporting their children and having developed conversations. Another thing she explained that I believe a lot of teenage girls will understand is the act of being with friends but leading a separate life on their phones. Are we losing touch with each other to the mercy of our phones? Turkle describes this as being ‘Alone together’. This demonstrates how social media is causing people to disengage with reality and turn to their phones as a form of escapism for controlled companionship. I feel this isn’t healthy as it diminishes people’s ability to engage in real life conversations and to understand each other. Furthermore, I believe this theory of ‘controlled companionship’ through phones allows people to have idealised conversations as they are almost hiding their true emotions and behaviours behind a screen. Real conversations will include true laughter or stammering and facial expressions which allows us to truly connect with others.

    Lastly, linking it back to Ronson’s talk social media can cause a dramatic decline in our ability to be at peace with ourselves and our own feelings. Both Ronson and Turkle speak about this as a negative factor of social media. Ronson believes that people seek validation by brining others down and they can be left feeling empty without this power. Turkle emphasises how people turn to their phones to feel less alone instead of embracing their own solitude, causing them to be less confident and lowers self-esteem.

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  6. Alex Powell

    After watching this, i have concluded that i do not think there is enough evidence to state whether social media has had a positive or negative impact on how we communicate, i believe you could argue for both sides.
    Social media has create a strong platform where individuals feel able to voice their opinions and get their voice heard. This teaches us the power our voice can have and give us a safe place to express our opinions openly. I believe this makes the social media platform so strong and significant as it allows us to bring modern day problems to light for the world to hear and learn about, it allows us to feel as though we are contributing to the world, hence giving us a perception of power.
    Although there is a downside to this newly found ‘power,’ something our generation has called ‘cancel culture’ it is a very toxic community were hundreds, almost thousands of people, gang up on individuals for their mistakes. While of course people should take accountability for their actions, this ‘cancel culture’ attacks them without allowing them any self growth. As this is all said behind the screen, those who are the predators can dissociate from this and dehumanize their prey, this leaves no room for empathy which again is very toxic. This culture will send death threats and even dox their locations for the world to see, they believe they are using their power for the greater good however this is not social justice. The correct form would be to educate and teach growth within the person, however they gain this hunger for power and exploit it causing things like social media to be such a deadly place.
    On the other hand, social media is a way of keeping connected with friends – especially in our current situation regarding COVID-19, without social media we would be completely detached from the outside world. Social media also lets us connect with those from all around the world and contributes a lot to teaches us world wide cultures and inspiring us.
    Yet again, there is still a downside to this, social media is very obsessive and tends to take over many young peoples’ lives. While social media is a great way to keep in contact and converse with others, it also takes away our social skills within the here and now. This takes away the authenticity of socialising face to face. Growing up on social media meant many young children lack social skills to interact in the moment, this takes away from the raw, real time, human interactions.This can lead to low self esteem and increase social introversion. Virtual reactions may come to completely take over and that is a very daunting idea.

    Overall i would suggest that social media has many positive aspects, but only when used in moderation else it can become extremely damaging.

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  7. Charlotte Pawley

    Being an active user on social media, my initial opinion consisted of the many positive aspects associated with social media. With the ongoing advance in technology, it is now a more efficient, quick and easy way to keep in touch with existing friends and family as well as creating opportunities to talk to new people anywhere in the world, an idea that would’ve once seemed impossible. After watching these TED talks, I learned that social media itself has a new deeper meaning and has evolved into something not initially intended.

    Ronson’s view is that social media has the power to tear apart anyone’s life, due to the public’s desire for a sense of belonging and power, making them feel less bad about their own lives. He uses the story of Justine Sacco who, after one insensitive tweet, had her life turned around, being shamed and fired. While I agree that comments made back to Justine were inappropriate and unacceptable such as ‘rape the bitch’, I am unable to sympathise and agree with her. What about the thoughts and feelings of other users who had been insulted and hurt by her offensive comment? Ronson moves on to suggest that ‘the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless’ but I believe that social media encourages people to think before they speak which is not necessarily a negative idea. It can reduce the amount of insulting comments; if people need to question what they are going to say, does that mean it is morally acceptable to post?

    Turkle discusses how technology is replacing face-to-face conversations, which I believe is hindering the younger generation’s social skills. Hiding behind a screen, we are able to edit our messages as many times as we like to get the ‘perfect’ wording before pressing send, something that is impossible to achieve in a normal conversation. This makes real life interactions seem more daunting as we can’t edit ourselves, adding pressure to a normal situation. However, with the ability of being able to connect with more people globally, people may argue and I personally agree that social media allows us to learn to communicate to a large variety and scale of people, further expanding and enhancing our social skills.

    In conclusion, the continuous improvements and advances following the rise of social media mask its hidden, darker flaws. Social media has indefinitely changed communication for all generations, with individual experiences influencing whether this is a positive or negative statement.

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  8. Luke Wilson

    Watching these TED talks has opened my eyes to how damaging social media can be to our social lives. Turkle’s Ted talk especially expressed the idea of our brains spiralling out of control to the point where many people would rather be alone because they feel connected on social media. Sure there are some benefits to social media like being able to communicate much easier and much faster. Whilst social media can be a fun and entertaining place both ted talks show that if we let it take over our free time, we are taking a huge step back in humanity as many of us would “rather text than talk” which is something Turkle highlights.

    In Ronson’s ted talk he tells a story about a woman named Justine Sacco who to some extent had her life completely ruined by a misinterpreted tweet she posted. Sure what Sacco tweeted was not ok and it should have never been shared online but the internet thought it was a good idea to rip her apart with no holding back. This tells us a lot about how reckless people can be on social media. Because people feel that they won’t face any punishment for what they say on social media that gives them the green light to rain abuse on whoever they feel “deserves it.” It is inevitable that people will feel stronger behind a screen because they feel safe in the comfort of their home where as in a real life situation no one would dare to say the things said on social media because as humans we have more barriers in what we say and do in real situations however on social media people lose those barriers and get a buzz to attack people to feel better about themselves

    Turkle decides to speak about another major issue with social media and technology which is that humans are gradually becoming more unsociable because our desire to spend time on social media is spiralling out of control and causing us to almost forget how to communicate in real life situations. Turkle is not against social media, however she believes that there are times and places where we should lock ourselves out of the virtual world and socialise with others. I agree with Turkle in the way that if we don’t use social media in moderation it will have a negative long term impact on our social skills in person. Turkle also talks about her theory that humans spending long amounts of time on social media is sparking the fear of being alone and I agree because when we are not socialising in real life we take to social media as a backup so that we don’t feel alone and distant from friends etc but if we were not able communicate in both real life or via social media we would be extremely lonely which is quite daunting.

    To conclude it is clear that social media has many benefits for all humans as we can communicate easier and have a fun time when we have nothing to do. However we need to moderate how much we use social media because as a result of social media humans are gradually losing the ability to socialise in person. As humans we need to break the ice and try being more sociable in real life situations rather than behind a screen for the better of our future.

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  9. Sasha Hext

    Before watching the TED talks, I believed that everyone had their own experiences with social media. I, myself have had ups and downs. It is hard to truly understand if it is strictly negative or positive. It depends on the experience of the user and what we read about other people’s experiences and how they influence us. We have all read the horror stories plastered all over Facebook, twitter etc. but what we don’t hear about is the positive aspects of social media like the almost limitless communication which we didn’t have before. On the other hand, some people are too reliant on the use of their mobiles for example, making sure they have constant communication with whoever is at home. I know we all like the reassurance of our parents being on the other end of the phone line whenever we need them, but we are becoming too reliant on this and therefore struggling with world experiences because of this. We just need to be reminded that there are other ways to communicate other than through our technology even though it may seem easier to do this.

    After watching the TED talks, I still believe that everyone has their own tainted view of social media and technology. But overall, I feel as though social media has more negatively influenced us than positively. It creates a gateway for racism and homophobia or leakage of people’s personal files. I think the major problem is the lack of education the harsher problems with social media. I know that when I was thirteen and first experiencing social media that my experience was positive but now having social media nearly four years on, I have a completely different view and experience.
    In conclusion, no I do not think that it has changed our communication for the better but it has changed our communication skills and the language that we use in both our everyday lives and our social media lives.

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  10. Lilyan Harris

    Preliminary to watching these TED talks, my opinion around social media was purely a fairly positive judgement. Yes I do believe that it has it’s mainly productive aspects, including the high raising platforms. These allow youth to express and find themselves with social groups they may relate to outside their real life. Also, the ability to keep in contact in an extremely easy way with friends and to research interests. With this would be the cure for boredom. However, with boredom is that when social media can become a toxic use of escapism and addictive?

    Turkle’s talk would agree with the latter, that social media has grown to be a compulsive addiction; a strongly negative one. She demonstrates how society has transformed and normalised the ideology of someone “being afraid of being alone”. Which to a degree, I can sympathise with however I do not believe social media is the key aspect to someone fearing to be alone, as it is common human nature to fear the ability of being isolated. Nonetheless, Turkle would argue that because of this feeling, humans would turn to social media to cure this; a pure coping mechanism. This would make people become more dependent on social media and lack the ability to express basic consultation in real life to their peers or family, this would be when it becomes destructive. To an extent, I can agree with Turkle’s argument however she is speaking from a different generations perspective then what I can relate to. She grew up without social media having a permanent statement in her life; making her argument become outdated to those of a younger generation like myself. She cannot see the positive aspects that can be created through having a prominent online life.

    Similarly to Turkle’s, Jon Ronson’s speech highlights the idea again that social media can be filled with the most toxicity. He vocalises that people view those on social media as extremely “good” or awfully “bad”, hinting at a superhero to villiain complex people show to those online. He manifested this idea through the story of Justine Sacco – a woman who tweeted an insensitive, racially discriminatory joke just before her flight to Africa. This later received a tonne of backlash and threats to which would affect her career and online presence. Though his TED talk was made in the year of 2013, the topic is still highly relevant as a new modern term for this situation would be known as “cancel culture”, something that is a trending topic on twitter now a days; with what he described as “internet trolls” taking lead in exposing and damaging online influencers careers. Ronson argues that these trolls take ‘ideology over humans’ indicating immediately that this can ruin lives without feeling the tiniest empathy and gives “a voice to the voiceless” which would contradict him standing up for Justine as if the internet hadn’t allowed her to have a voice, she wouldn’t of received the negative backlash in the first place. I have a good understanding again on why he would share this opinion, he comes from a generation that is more open-minded and not quick to hop on the bandwagon that is called cancel culture. He shares empathy that a lot of younger generations don’t realise; people online are humans too, with their own thoughts and feelings.

    All things considered, I would like to contemplate that I am one that can share empath to those online and can see the bigger picture. The portrait that everything online should not be viewed with rose tinted glasses. To realise the negative aspects to an electronic life firstly, you can then broaden your mind to the many positive ingredients that come with social media – which Turkle and Ronson choose to ignore with their arguments. The world of online is endless and it certainly has changed the way in which people confabulate therefore it cannot be generalised to be viewed entirely as negative or positive.

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  11. Holly Taylor

    Before watching the TED talks, I thought that social media was mainly a positive platform which people can use to communicate with others and to express themselves individually. Social media gives you the power to make your voice heard which can be used in a positive way or an extremely negative way. After watching these videos, it has made me realise the horrific consequences of online shaming and has opened my eyes to different views about social media. I believe that technology and social media could be a significant issue for future generations as the majority of communication nowadays happen through social media.

    Firstly, Jon Ronson’s views highlight the power of social media and the negative impact it can have on people’s lives. The ‘cancel culture’ is a cruel aspect in todays society online and this is shown with Justine Sacco and her story. She posted one insensitive comment, which was misinterpreted and it destroyed her life and damaged her reputation. This is one of the challenges with communication through social media, as online you can’t convey your tone of voice like you can in person. The public swarmed in to give their opinion when she couldn’t defend herself as she was on a flight and she soon became the most trending hashtag on Twitter. I believe that people say all these abusive comments online as they think it’s easier to be a bully when you can be anonymous and you can hide behind a screen instead of saying all these things face to face. This makes social media quite a scary place as people don’t have to face the consequences of their actions and as a result this may make them feel stronger and better about their own lives.

    In Sherry Turkle’s talk, she discusses her negative views on social media and how technology is taking over our lives as most conversations in recent years happen online rather than face to face. I partly agree that the younger generations now grow up completely surrounded by technology and social media, therefore they have less interactions with family and friends in person. However, I also disagree as I would rather be with the people I care about in person than online; I feel like social media is separate from real life as you can’t display your emotions online and can’t feel comfort like you can in person. While I do believe that technology is a great way to feel connected to people, I also think it can be a problem as some people create a false persona. For example, some people hide their true selves because they’re able to make every post they send ‘perfect’ unlike a real conversation.

    To conclude, I believe that there are many positive and negative aspects of social media, but I don’t believe that it has changed our communication for the better. Social media can be a great way to communicate with people, however it can also be a cruel, dark place. As a society we would benefit from having more face to face interactions as well as using social media as this would improve our communication in the long term.

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  12. Olivia Dainty

    Before watching these TED talks, I believed that most communication is transferred through social media. Social media not only allows you to hear what people say about you, but enables you to respond. As a user of social media myself, I have always thought of it as being a positive platform where people of all ages can express themselves and their feelings whether that’s through posting an image on Instagram or simply watching a video on YouTube that they’re interested in. However, these talks portrayed the more damaging side of social media. I was unaware of how much we rely on technology in general in our daily lives.

    Firstly, Jon Ronson outlines the damaging consequences of online shaming. He illustrates this through Justine Sacco and her story. Ronson highlights the fact that one inconsiderate comment can lead to, not only a damaged reputation, but a damaged life. Although Sacco’s comment was misinterpreted, the public had the power to say what they liked, good or bad. Personally, I think that its easier to say something repulsive to someone online rather than face to face since social media allows you to create and change your identity, which sometimes makes you forget the detrimental things you say. Saccos’s story is one example of why communicating through social media is negative – she couldn’t express her tweet through the tone of her voice so the public couldn’t tell whether she was being light hearted or offensive as her ‘joke’ was based on a serious matter.

    Sherry Turkle on the other hand argues that society no longer interacts face to face with loved ones since most communication is proceeded through social media. I can’t say I agree with Turkle’s idea completely because for me, I would much prefer to meet someone face to face, such as my grandparents – they don’t use social media so the only way to communicate with them is through real life conversations. However, it is daunting that verbal conversations are being replaced by quick text messages or a quick click on a facetime call. As someone who has grown up with social media I believe that it is a huge part of my life and to a certain extent it’s beginning to take over the younger generations lives, which is frightening. I would also argue that social media influences the way we act and speak in our real lives, for example, the way I communicate to people my age is much more informal than if I was speaking to an adult and I think social media plays a huge role in that. Turkle’s idea of ‘afraid of being alone’ is true to an extent as social media is a place you can access if you want to feel connected to others. Our generation doesn’t know anything different since we grew up with social media but I do think sometimes it’s beneficial to step back from the virtual world and assess what’s happening in reality.

    In conclusion, these TED videos have enlightened me to see the negatives in social media that I didn’t see myself. It saddens me to see that social media is causing us to lose touch with reality and as the media keeps growing each future generation will become more addicted affecting the way in which we communicate with each other because of the lack of conversation in reality.

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  13. Nathan

    Before watching these TED talks videos, I hadn’t looked twice upon the lurking negative impacts and the redefining effect that social media was having upon the human race. This being because the only aspects portrayed to a daily user of social media is the positivity of a fresh and modernised connection between the population, along with a new platform for advertisement, economy, lifestyle and almost anything the world has to show. However, watching the TED talk’s videos makes you contemplate the effect that social media is having on the population and whether it really is this positive, new and growing means of modern communication.

    In Ronson’s talk, he discusses the aspect of internet shaming. He paints a picture of how social media can be a driving force of hate, ignited by a simple post or tweet, which creates a surge of hypercritical people to categorise someone as a good or bad person, without knowing the true meaning and moral behind the post or tweet itself. He illustrates that due to the lack of in – person conversations, and the use of social media, you let too many untrustworthy people access your thoughts and manipulate them into something which they are not, before sharing there version across a platform used by 3.5 billion users a day.

    Similarly, Turkle made some important points on the lack of real life conversations and how it can create a masked outlook on an individual’s true self, creating a barrier when it comes to real life interactions. She achieves this by portraying how it is too easy to change or go back on a statement made on social media compared to that of real life, and shows just like Ronson, that social Media’s negative effects are slipping under the radar of society, and will continue to grow into a hugely negative and overpowering force, slowly devouring the human interaction that once was.

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  14. Kumbirai Mushambi

    Before watching these TED talks, I would have stated that social media has changed our communication for the better. However, after watching both videos I have learnt that media has definitely had a negative impact on how we communicate with each other.

    Jon Ronson’s video focuses on public shaming, or ‘cancel culture’ and exposes how much power the general public actually holds. For example, Jonah Lehrer’s case where he plead for forgiveness proved just how powerful ordinary people can be when in multitudes. He compared twitter users to ‘hanging judges’ which is accurate even though it sounds harsh. Media consumers nowadays use ‘cancel culture’ as a way to ‘get at’ people who do or say controversial things. Justine Sacco is an example of a person who fell victim to this form of public shaming with her misconstrued tweet about ‘not being able to get aids because she is white’. Once Ronson explained the true intentions of Justine’s tweet, it was clear that Justine hadn’t done much wrong except deliver it inappropriately. This brought to my attention how much harder it is for the internet to correct someone or ask what they meant; nowadays people immediately try to cancel one another at the first chance they get. I do empathise with Justine and agree that people took it way too far when sending her threats and causing her to lose her job keeping in mind her joke ironic, but the damage had been done and it was too late for her to add any context behind it. I do also believe there are some occasions where people have a right to get offended if the joke is insensitive and oftentimes without social shaming people lack growth in their behaviour. Of course, there should still be limitations of how far a person takes it and they should consider that people have room to change. In cases like Justine’s we can see how social media, and the ‘herd mentality’ within it, can cloud people’s judgement to the point where they are acting out of order and lose their capacity to empathise.

    In Sherry Turkle’s talk, she discusses how technology is shaping our modern relationships. From my own experiences I can agree that social media does make it much harder to communicate in person. Turkle explores this in different situations, one being that we are too absorbed in our own devices that we forget the importance of human interaction. And another being that face to face conversations can be quite anxiety inducing to think about, since we can’t change or erase anything once we’ve said it. Unlike texting, conversing in real life with a person requires immediate responses where you have less time to think about what you’re going to say and less control too. Turkle mentioned an idea that caught my attention quite quickly which was that If we’re not able to be alone, we’re going to be lonelier. This was very interesting to me because it’s so true. If we aren’t used to being alone, then when we are, we can only really be aware of how alone we truly are.

    In conclusion, I agree with Turkle’s view that social media has introduced many obstacles when it comes to communication. However, it’s hard for me to agree with Ronson’s opinion on social shaming, since it seems very one sided when there are a fair amount of exceptions to consider.

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  15. Judd Kendall

    Watching these TED Talks has made me realise the impact that social media can make on our lives, both mentally and socially. Both videos explore different paths to this idea: Ronson’s shows how our mindset towards other people’s actions and mistakes are affected and how our vision of what’s right is warped due to our presence on the social network. Turkle’s video presents us with the idea that communication between people has changed drastically due to new technology which helps us to talk to others without them being with us. I think both of these Talks are interesting and give very detailed analysis on human nature and how it has changed due to technology.

    Ronson tells a story of Justine Sacco, who tweeted a joke that was deemed racist and disgusting by almost everyone on Twitter. What Justine said, while a joke, was clearly not right and extremely ignorant, but what followed her actions was a torrent of abuse from thousands of people, some of which was arguably worse than Justine’s own crime. Ronson spoke about how we enjoyed seeing Justine being torn down and abused by so many people just because of her mistake, which seems almost inhumane as we shouldn’t be happy at this. People also found Justine’s tweet disgusting, yet found some of the abuse she received okay. Some people even celebrated it, despite it being just as horrific as Justine’s tweet. Social media has made it so easy for people to be hated and abused to the point where it is now normal, almost celebrated, for this to happen.

    Turkle, however, takes a different approach to the impact of social media. She talks about how social media, although allowing us to communicate with others, causes us to forget how to connect with other people outside of it. She talks about how many people today would rather text someone than talk to them face to face, which is a problem since it may have an impact on people’s social skills and ability to talk to others. I definitely agree with what Turkle is saying in this video, as although social media is extremely useful in the modern day, there are definitely some drawbacks of it that can be extremely harmful to people. I think it is important for people nowadays to learn how to communicate using both social media and in real life.

    In conclusion, social media has many obvious advantages that help us every day. It is extremely useful to the modern human, but it isn’t void of consequences. We as a species need to be able to use social media without letting it control and change us in a negative way, as this can lead to it being perceived as a bad thing for us, which it is not. If we can learn how to not let social media change our own human nature and sociability, then it will certainly be seen as a much more positive addition to our lives.

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  16. Grace Carter

    As a teenager, if I were asked about social media prior to watching these TED talks, I would have simply given the positive outlook: whether you’re old or young, you can use social media for both pleasure and work. Technology is advancing at such a rate that it would appear there are no faults – we can communicate with people all over the planet with a single click of a button. However, these TED talks have uncovered the damaging affects of social media. Despite developing technology giving ‘voiceless people a voice’, countless amounts of people have been driven to suicide due to the extreme amount of harassment they have received online. Should social media have the ability to take someone’s life and dismantle it piece by piece?
    Ronson’s talk highlighted the negative ways in which we can communicate with each other by referring to a story about a woman called Justine. Although Justine made a comment that could be viewed as racist, her actual intentions were not to make fun of a developing country. In spite of this fact, groups of people came together to hurl hateful comments at her whilst she obliviously slept on a plane. Many would have considered this ‘profoundly uncompassionate act’ social justice. Inhumanely destroying someone’s self worth and even involving their employer is now extremely normalised which clearly negatively impacts the victims of this online abuse. On the other hand, I do believe if someone makes a racist, homophobic, misogynistic or islamophobic comment there should be consequences because offensive remarks can be damaging to communities. The consequences however, should be reconstructive instead of destructive: the offender needs to be educated and given an opportunity to fix their mistake, rather than receive disgusting online harassment ( e.g. ‘rape the bitch’).

    The TED talk by Turkle builds on Ronson’s negative view of social media howeve Turkle discusses how social media can be isolating, in contrast to how Ronson demonstrated plentitudes of people connecting over harassing someone.

    Turkle explains her ideas about how social media makes us ‘lonely together’. This clear oxymoron exaggerates how she believes technology gives us an ‘illusion of companionship’ rather than a connection to everyone. As someone who has grown up with technology , it is not absurd to me that social media has a large part in people’s lives. It is an essential aspect which has proven its necessity during the Corona pandemic. Families , who were forced to stay cities apart have been joined together because of apps such as Skype. Nevertheless, it can’t be ignored that we spend more and more time on our phones which could be associated with the idea of isolating ourselves from reality.

    To summarise, social media is a clear convenience for us all but regardless we may need to regulate how much we depend on it as som trends that we blindly follow ( such as ‘cancel culture’) are very damaging to individuals.

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  17. Hunter Morris

    Straight off the bat, I believe that social media consumption and communication is as good as you make it, whether you mean to or not. Social media definitely has its positives and negatives but its how you approach it, in my opinion. 

    Starting with Jon Ronson’s Ted Talk, after reading only the title I realised I had a relatively established opinion when it came to ‘online shaming’ already. On platforms like Twitter, online shaming is ordinarily called ‘cancelling’ someone. Anyone can fall subject to the wrath of these ‘cancelees.’ 
    I think that cancel culture can do as much good as harm and as of recently is certainly getting out of control.
    “Guilty until proven innocent” would be the most convenient way to describe cancel culture to someone who doesn’t use the internet; the twisted and severe ‘punishment’ delivered by strangers on the internet can forever tarnish an innocent man’s image whilst equally retaining the capabilities to deliver justice to those who deserve it.

    A recent example of this used for good and with sufficient evidence and just reasons would be celebrity and social figure Shane Dawson. Over the span of his Youtube career, he has posted very disgusting and dehumanising videos and statements about children, animals, people of colour and lgbt individuals. As more and more of these clips and quotes resurfaced people began to band together to share and inform people on what had been said in the past forcing him to come out and formally apologise for his actions. Unfortunately, for Shane, the way he went about executing this absolutely destroyed his career furthering the destruction of his public image, causing him to lose over three and a half million supporters worldwide.

    It is clear that Twitter has a hive-like mind or in Ronson’s words a “mutual approval machine” especially when it concerns cancelling someone; you either agree with the majority or you get kicked to the curb to watch from the sidelines. This being said, it can be said without a doubt that a handful of good examples isn’t even close to the sheer number of individuals who have their image tarnished by people who choose to believe rumours instead of taking the time to research the accusations made against whoever is being cancelled.

    Ronson highlights how in the past social media was used as a way to allow voiceless people a way to speak up on their thoughts and opinions whereas now we have created a ‘surveillance society’ stating that the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless and I couldn’t agree more.

    Looking at Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk she talks about the ‘Goldilock’s effect’ which I found rather interesting. She uses it to describe our want for human interaction along side social media and the usage of our phones in our every day lives in general, “Not too close, not too far, just right.” She states that having texting takes away the “rich” and “messy” elements of human relationships and I personally still struggle to grasp whether this is a positive or negative thing overall. However I do believe that we are lonely but simultaneously afraid of intimacy yet social media makes being alone seem like a problem that needs to be immediately solved. Solitude can be great in small amounts but this can be said about everything- I believe that there needs to be a balance in all things social: whether its in real life, online or a lack thereof. We need to make solitude a good thing and not something to be frowned upon.

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  18. Mia Suart

    As a teenager, before watching the TED talk videos, I believed that the positives to social media definitely overruled the negatives. Having to simply press a button to send a message and communicate with anyone in the world seemed unbelievable. However, I now understand a different way social media is not normally portrayed as the consequences to online shaming are horrendous, mentally and socially. Both of the videos explain how the human race has been overtaken by the internet and how we desperately need to do something about it. But what changes can we possibly make to change peoples entire lifestyles?

    In Jon Ronson’s video, he explains the story of Justine Sacco and how her whole life has been “taken control of” by just one tweet. How can something that small destroy a persons self worth in a matter of hours? Twitter, being the “mutual approval machine” that it is, makes sure that no one can stand up for the helpless person that so forsakenly needs it. As soon as you go against the majority’s opinion you are so called a “bad” person too. The “good” people however don’t even recognise the damage that they are bringing into someone’s lives just because they want to feel a sense of power. Yet this power is being misused as they focus more on bringing everyone down rather than lifting society up. These internet trolls were allowed to destroy Justine’s life and tweet far worse and much more inappropriate comments just because their simple minds were excited that somebody besides themselves were getting shamed on.

    Furthermore, Sherry Turkle goes down a different path on the negatives of social media. She describes the bad habits that humans have gotten themselves into due to social media, such as thinking they need to text someone else rather than have a proper conversation with someone. Having this thought has led to a downfall in human connection as, unlike social media, we cannot erase or rethink about what we have just said out loud. This has guided us to believe that social media is a much more safer option to choose instead of a real face-to-face interaction. Although social media allows us to communicate through a variety of ways, as we all know, it also assures us that we are never truly alone. Turkle explains that it is typical for a human to fear isolation; therefore social media is a coping mechanism that has become addictive just so we can get the thought of loneliness out of our heads. I agree with Turkle to an extent as social media has become very destructive socially, having said that I also think that being in the older generation she may not fully understand the positive outlooks that social media has had as an overall effect on someone who has lived their whole life with it.

    To conclude, I still think social media is a great way to give a voice to the voiceless and communicate. But I feel as though it now as become a more noxious place where people have gained a like mentality of wanting to bring down anyone who they can. I think reducing the amount we use social media on a daily basis may improve society just the slightest bit we need it to, to become a more socialised and a more uplifted humankind.

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  19. nikeisha shah

    As a teenager, before watching the TED talk videos, I believed that the positives to social media overruled the negatives. social media has drastically changed the way people all over the world interact and communicate. Social media networks allow us the opportunity to share opinions with a far wider audience. However, some people may disagree. The communication occurring now is predominantly via social media and verbal conversations are less frequent than before. With it being easier and more efficient to send a quick message through WhatsApp rather than a longwinded verbal conversation, some say this change is positive. Nevertheless after watching these TED talks I have observed the arising negatives clearly overrule the efficiency of social media and I had to ask myself- has social media really changed the way we communicate for the better? After watching the TED talks, I still believe that everyone has their own tainted view of social media and technology. But overall, I feel as though social media has more negatively influenced us than positively. It creates a gateway for racism and homophobia or leakage of people’s personal files. I think the major problem is the lack of education the harsher problems with social media. I know that when I was thirteen and first experiencing social media that my experience was positive but now having social media nearly four years on, I have a completely different view and experience.
    In conclusion, no I do not think that it has changed our communication for the better but it has changed our communication skills and the language that we use in both our everyday lives and our social media lives.

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  20. Skye Erasmus

    Both Ted Talks show just how powerful social media can be and the impact it has on other people and our own lives. Jon Ronson’s talk shows just how easy it is to destroy somebody’s life using the internet which relates to ‘cancel culture’ and the ability to remove someone’s internet presence so easily either by spreading the word that they have said something you deemed offensive or when people go out of their way to dig into a person’s past to find something that they may have said that people nowadays will not agree with.

    Sherry Turkle’s talk also shows the impact of social media on a personal level. The amount of people who are unable to endure a conversation is due to the comfort they find in their own online presence and the security of being able to edit and change what you say beforehand therefore making it easier to change yourself for an online friend, whereas in real life interactions you have to be your true self. It’s the same concept with the robots, because these robots do not have the capacity to judge or comment, people prefer to converse with a robot they can tell their secrets to or share their own feelings and issues with; however if a person was to tell another person the same things, they are at risk of personal problems being shared, or being judged and attacked for their own thoughts and opinions.

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  21. Daisy

    Before watching these TED talks, I believed that social media was useful in connecting with each other when we are not face to face with the people we want to talk to, and as a teenager I believed that there were far more positives than negatives contributing to social media. However, after experiencing Jon Ronson’s TED talks I have discovered how quickly negative information can travel around social sites such as Twitter. Ronson’s talk explains how voiceless people have now been given a voice which can be positive or negative, depending on either way you look at it. Social media can dismantle lives and can act as surveillance for society, bringing up old mistakes. Social media did just that to Justine’s life.

    Jon Ronson’s video explained how the whole of Justine’s life was left in pieces after her tweet was misinterpreted by thousands of people as a ‘mutual agreement machine’ which is what platforms such as Twitter are. Justine Sacco’s life was changed so severely after she awoke from her plane trip, she was fired from her jobs and her name was googled over 1 million times in the space of a couple of weeks in December. What Justine said was ignorant and had no right being posted on twitter however, what followed her was abuse, harassment and multiple forms of bullying. Social media has made bullying somewhat acceptable when someone has done something wrong and as posts get retweeted and continue to be liked, the bullying worsens and the amount of people in mutual agreement expands.

    Sherry Turkle’s TED talks about our want for human interaction while also mentioning our dependency on our mobile phones, our need to have them with us all the time and even when we are in formal settings or even around the dinner table. Turkle explains how by using social media, we are ‘alone together’ and even the loneliest of people have some support online. And the use of this oxymoron exaggerates that we have the illusion of friends and companionship even if we don’t.

    To conclude, social media clearly makes our lives easier in the way of communicating with each other however we may choose to ignore the harsh reality of social media and how it can destroy peoples lives in an instant.

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  22. Abigail Duke

    Prior to watching both of these talks, I already had preconceived ideas about the hostile nature of social media, and the concern that if it was utilised in negative ways, social networking could have a serious implication on the ways in which we interact, communicate and form relationships with people in the future (the complete opposite of what developers initially designed social networking sites to do). That being said, I had never personally experienced targeted hate comments on social media, and so was not at the forefront of this potential negativity.

    What was particularly eye-opening about Ronson’s talk was how quickly comments on Twitter, for example, can be spread. Some of the responses Ronson featured reinforced my primary concern with social media; people can say things that they never would to someone’s face. For some reason, social media gives us a right to throw whatever words we want at people. Personally, I never really liked using Twitter: it felt too pressurised in the sense that anything you say could be taken out of context and used against you. Perhaps this is why I can resonate with Ronson’s words so easily; “Maybe there’s two types of people in this world: those people who favour humans over ideology, and those who favour ideology over humans.” I believe that social media is an amazing resource for promotion, sharing experiences and photos with friends, and even sharing opinions. However, users seem to be utilising this newfound online freedom in the wrong way, and in return it is causing trauma and hurt to others, and a sense of evil and entitlement in ourselves.

    I felt a similar way to Turkle when she was making her points on the flaws of technology when it comes to face-to-face interaction; It does in fact scare me that we as a society are become more reliant on communicating via a text or an email, because as humans we always seek an easy way out. So instead of talking in person, we consult to texting, where your words can be as carefully rehearsed and edited as needed. However, we now live in a world where technological communications are actually helpful in some cases. For instance, if you need to send an email to a boss or a teacher, perhaps asking them a question. It is only when we replace deep conversation with texts or emails when I think our communication skills will become jeopardised. I could never replace talking to a friend or a parent with virtual interaction, apart from letting them know where I am or perhaps making plans with them. In fact there’s close to no better feeling to me than having long, in-depth conversations with friends and family. I could never get to know people over text, even though I am part of the first generation who has never known a life without computers and phones. It frightens me that future generations will be even more reliant on their devices than we are now, and I don’t want them to miss out on the joys of being present and talking to the ones they love.

    I believe that both speakers make valid points, and I am in agreement about their concerns for how social media and technology are changing the way in which we communicate. I don’t believe, however that social media is being used for what it was originally intended for. I think it can be a space of open positivity and support, and like Ronson said, Twitter for example gave “a voice to the voiceless”, and I think that initially it did. I am not anti-technology nor anti-social media; in many ways it has allowed me to make new friends and share certain aspects of my life with them. I feel supported that a friend is only one message away, but the fear that technology is replacing in-person communication is certainly one not to be overlooked.

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  23. Lewis Brown

    Before watching these ted talks my opinion on social media was about what was expected for an individual of my age. Owning a mobile device and using it day to day for majority tasks was just a thing for me to do, however after watching these intellectual, powerful and quite frankly inspirational ted talks it is clear for me to say my opinion has changed greatly.

    Jon Ronson has taught me about the great impact social media, especially twitter, has on the community as well as individuals. Being only 16 I have grown up with technology all my life and it’s safe to say I haven’t witnessed much verbal hate in life compared to online hate. From being towards children to grown adults attempting to go about their day. Jon Ronson clearly shows how easy it is to dehumanise an individual and ruin their life completely by the push of a button, how easy it is for haters to lose themselves in such a movement and this is the problem with this generation. That it is deemed to be ok to destroy a human yet get nothing back.

    Sherry Turkle spoke about the impact social media and technology itself is having on the individual which most teenagers and I can relate too. Mobile devices do so much more than we are aware of. It literally takes away our identity and makes us voiceless. As we are too afraid to speak out loud to the world so rather we bottle it up and let it out, in a tweet or a post and that’s the main problem nowadays. Children are growing up not knowing how to have or let alone start a conversation due to the negative impacts of technology.

    In conclusion I know that these TED talks have changed my perspective of technology massively and it is easy for me to say now that I will enjoy my life and endure conversations about the real world and not be belittled to a post online.

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  24. Stephanie Fleming

    ‘Technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable’ summarises the negative impact behind social media platforms in the past, presently and likely into the near future.
    Before watching the TED talks, my personal opinion was that social media has an unbalanced scale of negativity when compared to positivity. All communities and people present on social media are more likely of receiving negative and ‘troll’ comments than praise and complimentary messages or comments. However, social media also provides a place for others to connect to similar beings to themselves and allows connection to loved ones that could be unreachable in the current unplugged world.
    Both TED talks raised compelling points that hiding behind a screen provides comfort from loneliness as well as a shift in power and confidence by dehumanising others, spreading hatred like a wildfire. There is more hatred then positivity present on all social media apps. It is almost a consistent battle just to receive some sort of positivity that provides comfort as well as the humanisation for others being their true authentic selves.
    Human interaction is prominently online. Physical human interaction is a rare sight especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. Many (if not a majority) of people have turned to social media to conquer their loneliness and isolation, when in fact social media is psychologically powerful enough to change people from their true selves into power and attention hungry individuals.
    Opposing this, social media has provided many during this difficult time to remain in contact and has created a support network through calls and messages. Personally, I wouldn’t know (or be close to) the people I do now if technology was not present in my life.
    Personally, I hold the belief that social media is too present in everyday human lives. We depend on our phones and computers for some sort of human interaction or use the platforms available to us as a safety net which leaves me to ponder what would happen if we didn’t have technology anymore and I would be curious to see how humanity thrives without it’s precious technology.

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  25. Adam Rowley

    Before watching the TED videos my perception of social media is that it could be considered a positive outlet for people to communicate and be kept updated on their friend whilst also giving them control over how they portray themselves. After viewing these videos I have seen how people’s control can be completely taken away from them when it comes to one small comment being misconstrued and then swept up into a media storm for the pleasure of other people to watch and judge. I feel the amount of exposure people have to social media today has made people become less attached to making genuine human connections and people would rather speak to someone online than face to face. Often people often need reminding that even though their words are on a screen they still carry the same amount of power to them as cyberbullying has increased astronomically with the introduction of social media. Because of social media people feel it is okay to abuse people online and not have to suffer the consequences of their actions and feel it is okay to abuse people.

    Everyone has said something about someone online. Whether it be in a private message or leaving a nasty comment on a post on a site like Facebook or Instagram. Social media also allows others to see into peoples lives but with the availability of things such as screenshots words can easily be spread and misinterpreted allowing others to pass judgment on you without knowing the full picture, this is what I would consider the danger to social media and it can be one of the most damaging things to happen to someone and their mental health. For example, Justine Sacco made one thoughtless joke however she lost her job, this is the case with many famous celebs who see their old social media posts come back to bite them in their later years. This to me clearly demonstrates that social media needs to be given less power as if we carry on living in this internet ruled society things will only continue to escalate until they are out of control and human interaction slowly becomes more uncommon as everyone becomes more engrossed about what people think about them online and not focusing on the real world around us.

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  26. Fin Harrison

    My initial view on social media was that it is a predominately good thing in terms of how society communicates in the modern age. However I was also aware of the negative effects it can have if used in excess or weaponised against someone as seen time and time again through ‘cancel culture’ or ‘shaming’ as Ronson puts it. I completely agree with Ronsons’ point on social media once giving ‘a voice to voiceless people but now creating a surveillance society’ as I believe now people on twitter are actively looking for negative things people have said as they are desperate to shame and get a sense of accomplishment that they have ‘taken down the bad guy’ whilst inadvertently not realising they are destroying someone’s wellbeing or lifestyle. Despite Ronsons’ talk being about a tweet that got attention fast, there are many instances, now twitter has been around for a while, in which people dig through years of tweets to find one bad thing someone has said, to then criticize and villainise the original tweeter, not taking into account that years have passed, and that people can change along with what is deemed acceptable in society. This further proves Ronsons’ point of people looking for and needing someone to shame as opposed to using the platform for good and waiting for when a more important issue arises and can be spoken about in a more formal matter. This doesn’t mean to say that I believe people do not need correcting when they make offensive statements however, I feel as if there are much more civil ways of going about it instead of gunning for someone like rabid animals as perhaps there was confusion in the original tweet and all that was needed was someone to say ‘this could look bad from this point of view’.
    I also feel Turkle makes some valid points about how too much of a good thing can be bad, the good thing in this instance being social media. I feel it is important for people to be ‘self-aware’ when using it and not having It be a sole way of communication. However I would disagree on some of the points made about being able to pre-think/ edit texts as putting on a front. I believe a lot of positives can come from this as people may be socially awkward and these people could really open up over text and it could also help people say important messages or get some things of their chest that they may struggle to say in real life. But this once again links to the fact that you need to be self- aware as this becomes dangerous when you stop seeing the messenger as a person or use this as the only way of talking to someone instead of developing social skills. In conclusion I think Turkle raises valid points about the dangers of being completely disconnected from society, however I think social media should be used as more of a support tool in socialising as I think it is important to keep a physical connection as well. However I can say first-hand I have had lots of in depth conversations through both real life and social media so I would disagree with the point that texting can’t be a full conversation. I would say I mostly agree with Turkle on her views like how it is ok to be alone sometimes, however I feel she is a bit extreme with how she looks at texting e.g instantly dehumanising it.

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  27. Shay Etteridge

    The first Ted talk, ‘When online shaming goes too far’ from Jon Ronson, discusses the issue of online shaming on sites such as Twitter and times when it can go too far. He addresses the case of Justine Sacco and the large scale response she received to a tweet she made before boarding a flight. The responses included a vast range of different approaches spanning from people rightfully calling her out on an insensitive ‘joke’ all the way to support for vile acts against her. In my opinion, the talk shows that while tools on the internet can be used to raise the voices of minorities and those often spoken over or ignored, they can also be used to an extreme to send unhelpful and counter-intuitive hateful messages to others anonymously, therefore riding the senders of any responsibility for their comments.

    The second talk, ‘Connected, but alone?’ by Sherry Turkle, focuses on our relationship with technology and how it has changed the way we communicate. While I agree with some of her points in that social media has reduced our face to face contact and conversational skills, I think that saying it has had an overall negative effect on our communication, relationships, and lives is an overstatement and a simplification. For example, during the Covid-19 isolations the ability to communicate with others through social media was not only very helpful for spreading urgent news and updates, but was also a saviour for the many, many people who were isolating alone or in unsafe environments. It allowed them to maintain contact with friends, family, and external support they would otherwise have had no contact with for many months at a time, this made a significant difference for many people’s mental health during the pandemic and should not be dismissed when discussing social media’s effects on our communication. I think it is also a very narrow minded notion that social media’s changes in communication have had negative effects for everyone. Many people struggle with face to face conversations and social interactions, particularly neurodivergent people such as autistic people who may find online communication relieving compared to the stress and expectations involved in face to face contact. This means that although online communications may have had a negative impact for some, they haven’t for everyone and have certainly significantly helped many during times of crisis. Therefore I don’t believe that we can say one way or the other if social media has had a negative impact, but must instead see that it has had some positive impacts, and some negative at the same time.

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  28. Chloe Foster

    The way we communicate with each other now has vastly changed since the introduction of social media. In Sherry Turkle’s Ted talk, “Connected, but alone?”, she proposes the idea that despite having the ability to communicate with people from all over the globe at any time, we are more alone than ever. Often times when meeting with a group of people, rather than conversing with those that I am with, I will instead turn to social media and communicate with people that aren’t with me. This is something that a number of people do which backs this idea. Despite being with a group of people, we choose to ignore them and turn to others that aren’t there. Turkle suggests that we “sacrifice conversation for connection” and I couldn’t agree more. She also talks about how different communicating is over social media than what it is like in person. She says how when sending a message to another person, you have the ability to edit what you are saying and delete messages in order to be perceived in whatever way you wish. This is vastly different to a conversation in which happens in real time and cannot be taken back. This suggests the idea that people who grow up with technology and social media, may be lacking in the necessary skills to have a proper face-to-face conversation as they have not properly experienced it. This is one worrying negative change in the way we communicate.

    In Jon Ronson’s Ted talk, “When online shaming spirals out of control”, he states that social media like Twitter gives “voiceless people a voice”. In my eyes, this is a positive thing as platforms, such as Twitter, can be used to share experiences and to bring to light issues that need to be solved. Jon however continues to talk about the negatives that arise with social media. He says how people hide behind their screens targeting innocent people, sending them death threats and negatively effecting a persons life. He uses the example of Justine Sacco, who tweeted what she intended to be a joke and then later received backlash from Twitter users, resulting in her loosing her job. The anonymity of platforms like Twitter can be negative for this reason however, it can also lead to people gaining the confidence to speak up when they need to, giving the ability for change to be made.

    Social media is able to connect people with all different interests, from different cultures and backgrounds, which I personally think is another positive. Being able to communicate with people all over the world can lead to exceptional opportunities in a persons life. Social media also gives people the ability to communicate with existing friends whenever they desire. Social media gives people the ability to have endless communication with people. This can be seen as a good thing by some people however, as with all social media platforms, this may end in unavoidable harassment for some people which could dangerously affect a person’s overall wellbeing.

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  29. Lara Knox

    Social media is the natural extension of language as we grow into our new technological capability. Being able to transfer information virtually instantaneously to others regardless of the distance is incredible and powerful. It has enabled us to have discussions about very human struggles because of the effect that keyboard safety provides. However false this sense of security may be, its role as a catalyst for social change and fuel for igniting intense conversations about real issues simply can not go unrecognized.
    It has been a beacon of hope for those feeling alone during the pandemic and has shown so many people that feeling lonely is okay and that we all feel that from time to time. It must also be acknowledged as expressed in Jon Ronson’s talk that for a full understanding of the impact of social media on communication we need to look at the malicious cancel culture that has emerged lately. Like all constructs, social media is a reflection of human nature. To look at any one facet of life or any one interpretation in isolation is to miss the beautiful and rich diversity that makes up the rest of the tapestry of life. The same can be said of social media. To appreciate it as a whole we need to take the good with the bad and know that those are all parts of who we are at this moment in history.
    Personally, social media has allowed me to retain and maintain relationships with friends old and new despite moving countries a few times. That is something I never would have been able to do otherwise. I do agree that Sherry Turkle’s ‘Goldilocks effect’ has been exacerbated by the space that social media has given us in conversation. You can reply at your own convenience and there are endless possibilities for other conversations; which does give you the distance to engage at your own comfort level. This does pose obvious challenges for conversation because our comfort levels might be different.
    In the final analysis, I believe that Social Media has changed the way we communicate for the better and is the most powerful tool for creation and communication that has yet been developed, however, it has the potential for very real damage.

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  30. Eve Thirlwell

    There’s no doubt that we are a generation of screens. Living life has become synonymous with being active on social media that we have become unaware of its constant presence. Prior to watching Sherry Turkle’s talk, I had a vague idea of the shift in adolescent communication through technology. I didn’t realise the monstrosity of what this issue is. I believed social media to be a positive platform in some ways, how it brought people together and built relationships. However, Turkle used her daughter as an example by saying technology is in fact a replacement for real life effort in our relationships. I agree with this to some extent but, naturally through my generation’s eyes, I have a different mindset and experience in how social media relationships impact our lives. I do believe that there is a certain reliance on devices;it almost justifies how much time we put into our relationships and how good we feel about ourselves in general, especially compared to others which Turkle conveys that she sees this as becoming ‘alone together’. I strongly agree that social media has some positive aspects, with an educational aspect to it and how it allows us to think about the person we want to be off screen. Yet, I do see how some people can literally evolve around their phones and how it is taking control of their abilities to socialise. If we are able to utilise devices as a sideline to our lives in the background of everything else, then I think it is an amazing addition to possibilities in our lifetime. However, when those possibilities become reliances and then the only possibilities we end up having, that is when we need to take a step back, and reevaluate the new definition of real life.

    Ronson’s speech exposes the abuse of power people hold with their newfound, unintelligent identity on social media. Through the case study of Justine Sacco, he explains the trauma and damage of miscommunication, assumption and the danger of how social media gets everyone’s attention rapidly. While reading Sacco’s tweets Ronson was displaying, I was horrified by the tone of utter disrespect and stupidity I gathered from the meaning of her words. Even after Ronson explained his interaction with her and his understanding that her words were simply a mistake and intended joke, I still found it hard to sympathise with her actions as I don’t personally know her therefore only have her insulting comments to gather an opinion on. Therefore, I am a perfect example of how we get carried away with what we see online and how we have normalised having to quickly react to situations we have no knowledge or understanding of at all solely for our own satisfaction. We only have her virtual behaviour to go off of, therefore are not thinking in the slightest about her as an actual human being who is allowed to learn from her mistakes. I can see how this is damaging, as we are losing the aspect of discussion and conversation. If someone would have stopped aggressively harassing Justine online and asked her to simply explain herself, then maybe she would have had the opportunity to apologise and expand on the deeper meaning behind her words. If someone would have heard her saying that in real life, I doubt they would have gone to extremes like saying ‘r*pe the bitch’, there would have been chances to question her and perhaps give her a second chance. We all say things we don’t mean from time to time, it is not fair when other people get destroyed from one mistake probably everyone’s made, just not with millions of people reading. I agree with standing up to what Justine said, as we believe we are making a difference and that’s what social media I believe can have the power to do. However, if we are not extending this activism into real life, then social media could become the future fake ID of society’s progression.

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  31. Ben Harvey

    In both of these TED Talks, it demonstrates how social media can make a huge impact on our lives, as people nowadays decide to give there opinions on other people and topics, by expressing there feelings through social media platforms such as twitter.
    In the the TED talk by Jon Ronson, we see how people quickly judge and how people give there opinions on certain specific matters. Also we see the affect and impact of what social media can have on peoples lives, for example when Jon Ronson gave the story about a women called “Justine Sacco” who made an insensitive tweet, which led to her whole life being turned around as she received thousands of messages from all types of people around the world giving there opinion on what she tweeted before letting her defend herself and give her side of the story first. Because Justine was on a flight to Africa, she couldn’t defend herself which meant she received tweets telling her employers that she should be sacked from her job and this ended up happening. This shows the power of social media and how one insensitive tweet can change someone’s life.
    Also in the other TED talk by Sherry Turkle, she discuses our connections with technology and how it has changed the way we communicate with people. I agree with some of her statements of how we are focusing and reeling on the technology to communicate and how we shouldn’t, however because of this technology we have been able to communicate more frequently and easily to people who live in different places around the world. Because of this we can contact people through social media which has had an overall positive affect, although there is some negatives which I agree with, overall I think social media has been a good thing as people can learn and communicate with people around the world.

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  32. Ethan

    In this crazy world we live in today, everyone is glued to their phones. And you can guarantee that every person you see on the train, bus or anywhere in public, they’re on some sort of social media. Either updating their profile picture or posting a new selfie.

    Watching the TED talks made me think why. Why do people do this sort of stuff. Is it for attention, or simply because they want to show their friends what they’re up to. But it is unfortunately changing peoples mindset and actions they do on a day to day basis, especially young innocent kids who shouldn’t be exposed to this addictive and toxic culture and the awful community’s that come with social media as well.

    Personally, I was introduced to social media around the age of 12. At first it was fun uploading silly videos of me and my friends and selfies with my family at the park. But it quickly became a slippery slope where I started deleted photos if they didn’t get enough likes in a certain time. But if it did, it would give me a little rush for a second and it felt like some sort of achievement. Now looking back, It was a stupid toxic cycle I trapped myself in and I didn’t even realise at the time. Fortunately, I came back around and realised how stupid I was being and just stopped posting or going on my phone at all. I feel like this changed me a little as I realised life isn’t about social media numbers anymore.

    As said in the TED talks, I also agree social media and your phone in general is addicting and overall a negative on most peoples lives. As it controls peoples lives and can have serious affects after. It makes people feel insecure when they see a 10/10 model posing on their feed as they then doubt their own looks. This is crazy to me as I look at my phone as a bit of metal with wires inside that can do some cool things. But to others it’s there life and there entire personality.

    To end on a positive note, social media can really help to spread awareness worldwide to anyone at any minute. A massive thing in the last few years was the BLM protests. Videos where posted of people protesting for equality in today’s society and to end the racial injustice that minorities face across the globe. Social media has it’s ups and downs but if you care enough it will gobble you up and consume your life.

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  33. samuel hiorns

    Before watching the videos, I was already fairly skeptical about the positive impact of some social media sites in relation to the negatives associated with using them, aside from the obvious benefits, being connection and communication. Since watching the videos, my view has only been strengthened that social media is not necessarily an evil in society that needs drastic action taken upon it but instead that it is our habits as consumers of it that need to change. As with everything, social media is good in moderation. Too much can lead the user to disconnect some from the real world, as constantly checking your phone for likes and comments on a post for some kind of validation, or photoshopping images to share to Instagram is not a true reflection of reality. But without social media, many of us would be without at least one important form of communication. Messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and even the Instagram DM are vital to many people’s everyday communication and are no longer confined to specific age groups and classes, for example. They also offer the convenience of speed to the user. For example, what would have taken a lengthy phone call previously can now be drafted out and sent in minutes- or even less. There’s also the benefit of instant communication as these platforms offer a near- instant response time for sending and receiving messages. For the same reasons as social media help us to follow people from all around the world, it also allows us to communicate with people we know easily, using a centralised form of messaging instead of having to use different messaging standards, and for connecting with other people that we may not have spoken to in years, just by searching for their names. But for this same reason, the advent of social media has resulted in a quicker and easier way to weaponise speech against others, as shown in Jon Ronson’s speech about Justine Sacco, whose words were taken at their literal meaning and caused outrage on Twitter in 2013. Social media turns out to be a condensed form of speech as messages end up being brief, and sometimes lacking context. Justine was limited to 140 characters as that was the maximum Twitter allowed at the time and since she was in the air and wasn’t there to defend herself she couldn’t explain the meaning of her tweet. Sherry Turkle makes the point that social media can only go so far in replicating human connection over the Internet, and the expectations for social media are constantly changing, and so the chatrooms of the ‘90s would have worked well enough at the time for online chat but people expect more from their messaging clients, and as people’s lives are intrinsically linked with social media we all take things we see more seriously. So people need to develop a healthier relationship with social media, and remember that, depending on how it’s used, it can be one of the best tools at our disposal, or the worst.

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