Will Social Media Bring Us Together or Tear Us Apart?

The rise of the Internet and Social Media have greatly impacted us as a society; for the better and for the worst.

The aspects of Social Media and the Internet that may tear us apart as a society include the fact that we have less face-to-face interactions in our every day lives. Society has turned to different new technologies as a huge medium of communication including cell phones, texting, emailing, etc.

The newspaper industry has greatly suffered at the hands of the Internet and classifieds sites such as Craigslist. Print newspaper subscriptions and print advertisements have always been the main source of revenue for newspaper companies. Now that many articles are posted online, many people are unsubscribing from print newspapers. According to this New York Times blog article,  the New York Times Company saw it’s stock decline by 54% from 2004 to 2008 as people began to read more news articles online and the company began to struggle. As the Internet gains popularity, the newspaper industry may continue to deteriorate.

Social Media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have led way to a new “Internet society” in which people often bully others while hiding behind their computer screen. Cyberbullying has emerged as a huge problem in society because of these Social Media sites. The Simon Wiesenthal Center reports that online terror and hate on Social Media websites is on the rise with a 30% increase from last year. Social Media encourages hate and bullying.

In the scheme of things, the negative impacts that the Internet and Social Media have had on our society do not outweigh the positives.

The Internet is very useful; children learn from online games and interactive homework assignments, people are kept up to date with breaking news on sites such as Google News, investors can keep track of stocks, etc.

Although the Internet has hurt the newspaper industry, we see these companies conforming to the new “Internet society” and its demands. According The Guardian, since the New York Times paywall was activated in March, it was announced that it more than doubled the number of paid subscribers to 250,000. Overall, the paper has more than 1 million digital subscribers. It is projected that the paywall will be an overall success, and allow Newspaper companies to become more competitive in the journalism industry.

Social Media sites have introduced some negatives to society but at the same time, have introduced a number of positives. These sites have allowed people to keep in touch easily. Before Social Media, keeping in touch and catching up with old classmates or coworkers was difficult if not impossible. Before Social Media, if someone changed their phone number or address, it was difficult to keep in contact with them. Now, thanks to social media, keeping in touch with an acquaintance is as easy as a “Friend Request.”

It is obvious that there are many positive and negative aspects of the Internet and Social Media. As a society, we have evolved and continue to evolve as the Internet becomes a more important aspect of society. All in all, I believe that the Internet and Social Media have contributed to our society as a whole, and will continue to bring us together in the future.

 

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Social Media: Cyber Bullying and Teen Suicide

Cyber Bullying is an increasing problem in today's "Social Media" society

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, about half of young people in the United States have experienced some form of cyber bulling; 10-20 percent of those people experience it regularly. Cyber bullying is defined as when a child or teen is threatened, teased embarrassed or harassed by another person using the Internet or another form of technology. Some other frightening statistics show that cyber bullying is on the rise and becoming an increasing problem in today’s society due to the fact that so many teens use social networks to communicate; over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly. In addition to social media, cell phones are a very common medium for cyber bullying. Cyber bullying victims are more likely than non-victims to have a low self esteem and consider suicide.

Most recently, in October 2011 Amber Cole, a 14-year old girl from Baltimore, MD, was filmed (without her consent) performing sexual acts with her ex-boyfriend. The video was then spread around social media sites and she became a worldwide target for cyber bullies. #AmberCole became a trending topic immediately following the release of the graphic video and she has been a target for Twitter-bullies ever since. She said that the release of this tape has ruined her life and her reputation.

As seen in this New York Times blog, the Pew Research Center released a survey which shows that 88 percent of the teens surveyed said they witnessed “people being mean or cruel” on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Another shocking fact is that one in five admitted to joining in on the cruelty. If one in five of those surveyed admitted to being cruel, how many of these teens actually participate in the cruelty but do not admit to it?

In recent years there has been an increasing number of cyber bullying cases that have ended in suicide. According to this article from the South Carolina State University, Alexis Pilkington, 17, committed suicide in March 2010 in New York because of a number of cyber bullying attacks that she received from social media websites, especially FormSpringMe. On October 7,2003, Ryan Halligan, 13, hung himself because of harassment he received at the hands of his peers. They spread untrue gossip, told him to kill himself and drew him into an online conversation that was later copied and pasted and spread to his entire school.

It is no secret that the problem of cyber bullying is on the rise and that many teenage lives are at risk due to this epidemic. What are adults doing to stop cyber bullying?

According to the Cyberbulling Research Center, by September 2001 46 U.S states had some kind of law against cyber bullying. The Anti-cyber bullying law in South Carolina includes all means of electronic communication—the Internet, mobile phones, cameras, etc. Although many states have these laws, they include major flaws.

Generally speaking, most of the laws allow law enforcement to act upon cyber bullying only if they occur within an educational setting. This is obviously a problem because many teens use their own computers at home, which means that they are able to cyber bully without consequences if their parents are not aware of their Internet activity. This means that until these laws are amended to be more strict, parents should limit and monitor their children’s time on the Internet and cell phones, and listen to cries for help from their children that may be affected by online bullying.

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The Death of the Newspaper

David Fitzsimmons

One of the most notorious issues known to the blogosphere today is the “death of the newspaper,” as portrayed in Scott Fitzsimmons’ comic—even the paperboy is turning to the Internet for news! It’s no secret that the Internet, from Twitter to Google News, is demolishing print media. As seen in this article from the Economist, Philip Meyer, in his book The Vanishing Newspaper, predicts that newspapers will completely die in the year 2043 and that the Internet will take over as the main medium for transmitting news. Maybe his book was written a while ago, but in my opinion, the newspaper will die much faster with the rate that technology is currently advancing.

In 2010, the United States journalism industry lost jobs three times faster than the economy’s average industry, according to the US Bureau of Labor statistics. The monthly rate of job loss in the journalism industry was reported to be 22.23 percent compared to the economy’s average of 8.1 percent. Catholic online reports that since 2009, 166 US newspaper companies either went out of business, or stopped printing newspapers. On a lighter note, they report that online news jobs are growing at a fast pace which shows that although print media is dying, journalism is not.

The blog Newspaper Death Watch “chronicles the decline of newspapers and the rebirth of journalism.” Despite the death of the newspaper, the author of this blog believes the art of journalism is far from dead and that it is actually transforming. The newspaper industries have suffered major setbacks at the hands of the Internet and online news but the art of social media and online news sources turn an exciting new page in the book of journalism. Jeff Jarvis, who runs the City University of New York’s interactive journalism program talks of the future of journalism in this USATODAY article. He says:

“There’s going to be an ecosystem, a network of different players involved in news for different reasons.”

Jarvis does not believe that print will be involved in this “new ecosystem.” He adds that they

“aren’t willing to cannibalize and disrupt themselves. It’s too late. … It’s going to be a post-Armageddon rebuilding.”

Older generations today still hold onto their print newspapers, while our generation, and even our parents’ generation is turning more and more to online newspapers, blogs and social media sites for news. This decrease in demand for print newspapers have caused major newspaper companies to suffer. Almost all profits made by these companies in the past have been made off of print advertising and print newspaper sales. As the age of print newspaper dies, these companies have to conform and evolve to the demands of mainstream America.

The New York Times recently erected a pay-wall in which visitors are able to see 20 articles a month free, but after that are required to elect one of their many monthly subscription plans. The New York Times, like almost all major newspaper companies, have been forced to charge their readers to read online content due to the fact that they have lost such a significant amount of their profit, which has always been print advertising, to the Internet.

Since this recent implementation of the pay-wall, The New York Times is already feeling positive repercussions. According to New York Times’ Jim Roberts,

“The subscriptions model we have built is much less sensitive to the rollercoaster of the economy. We knew we needed second stream of revenue. Granted it will feel the economic dips, but it will not react as wildly as advertising revenues will do. It’s helping us fund our journalism.”

Creating the pay-wall was risky in the beginning, but has proven thus far to be a success in creating profits.

I believe that death of the print newspaper is inevitable. I also believe, however, that as long as our major news companies evolve with the new age of online news and media, their companies, along with good journalism, will not die.

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9/11 Terrorist Threats Investigated by FBI while US Citizens Remember the Fallen Victims

9/11

New York, N.Y. (Sept. 14, 2001) -- A fire fighter emerges from the smoke and debris of the World Trade Center. The twin towers of the center were destroyed in a Sept 11 terrorist attack. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jim Watson.

According to CNN’s Chronology of Terror, the first hijacked plane, Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts hit the north twin tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:45 A.M EDT. If you ask any person who was in the United States on September 11, 2001 where they were at precisely 8:45 A.M on that frightful day, chances are that they will be able to describe with precision exactly where they were and who they were with.

As I recall, I was sitting in my sixth grade science class at Elkridge Landing Middle School in Elkridge, Maryland, watching CNN with my teacher crying in the classroom as the World Trade Center collapsed and filled New York City with ash. Jeff Jarvis, writer of the Buzz Machine Blog, states–

“9/11 helped make me who I am; then again, it didn’t….War, disease, loss: so many people suffer trauma worse than we did on that day–just look to the Middle East today–and have no choice but to carry on.”

Myself, as well as many other Americans vividly remember 9/11 and the events that surrounded it but it is surely not all that defines us. There are many other catastrophes that have happened in the world since 9/11/01, and there will be more to come in the future. The United States of America is not solely defined by 9/11/01; it is defined by how life has continued despite this disaster and how this country and its citizens have bettered themselves because of this tragedy. At the same time, in coming up on the ten year anniversary of this terrorist attack, we are reminded now more than ever of those brave Americans we lost on that day.

As we remember and reflect on the people who were lost, the FBI examines terrorist threats made by al Qaeda that have threatened American safety.

As reported in a recent news article by CNN, the terrorist threat is believed to involve three people, including an American citizen, and a vehicle full of explosives. It is not believed to be an elaborate plan like the one that was carried out on 9/11/01. A senior administration official in Washington D.C stated that the United States government has “received credible information very recently about a possible plot directed at the homeland that seems to be focused on New York and Washington D.C.”

 

With a light similar to that of the Jeff Jarvis quote seen above, in an interview regarding the terrorist threat (seen here), New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tells the American people,

“The best thing we can do to fight terrorism is to refuse to be intimidated by it. For ten years we have not allowed terrorists to intimidate us. We have lived our lives without fear and we will continue to do so.” (Source: CNN)

It is apparent that although this terrorist threat is “credible” and should be taken seriously, the American people should continue about their daily lives while remaining alert and cautious, especially in the New York City and Washington D.C areas. I hope that through the fear of this threat, the American people as a whole will continue to honor the fallen victims and  remember what happened ten years ago. Through this time of remembrance and reflection, we need to be cautious and at the same time, not be intimidated by al Qaeda.

As touched on by Jeff Jarvis of the Buzz Machine blog and New York City Mayor Bloomberg, the United States of America and the American people should not and cannot be defined by 9/11, even though it was a momentous event in history. We must carry on and live our lives without fear of the unknown.

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