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?


  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.


  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.


  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.
    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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


  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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