Social Media is a part of our daily lives and can have meaningful impacts.
If that doesn’t show you just how much social media and society’s perceptions of it have changed in the past two years, consider these observations.
People are Dialing it Back
A survey conducted in 2016 noted that 34.6% of respondents would post things on social media that might impact their ability to retain or obtain employment because their social media accounts were set to private. In 2018, that number has dropped to 30%. On the same note, 31% of people in 2016 stated that they never post content that would cause conflict among other users, while that number has jumped to 34% in 2018.
These numbers aren’t staggering, but it does show a clear trend that people are becoming more cautious with how they continue to use social media.
The Line Between Digital and Reality is Blurring
At one point, the distinction between what was said on social media and what the consequences would be in the real world was bold and more defined. Today, that line begins to blur as what is posted on social media can have a notable impact on people’s real lives.
We all have the right to free speech, it’s the First Amendment. However, that right only protects your individual speech from government censorship, and not from the resulting repercussions bestowed upon you by private organizations. That means what you say on social media can very much get you in hot water at work.
In 2016, 41.2% of survey respondents believed that getting fired over a social media post was an infringement on their right to free speech. That percentage is now 37.5% in 2018. That shows that people are becoming aware of the impacts that their social media activity can have in their actual lives, if ever so slightly.
Social Media is Altering the English Language
The English language was never simple to begin with, and with added vernacular and slang, it’s become an increasingly complex variation of its former self. Most of these new terms and phrases are a product of social media and people’s declining regard for proper grammar usage.
Social media users are using abbreviations, text lingo, misspellings, and slang more frequently in their posts, and it’s impacting how people understand each other in real life as well.
There was nearly a 5% drop in people who stated that they never use text shortcuts in social media from 2016 to 2018, indicating people’s acceptance of these terms and phrases as language. In fact, many of these have been since added to the dictionary. Words such as “hangry,” “mansplaining,” and approximations of speech like hmm and ooh are now considered words of the English language according to Merriam-Webster.
Suffice to say, social media is changing. So is the way that we use it and the impact it has in reality. While it can be a powerful platform for spreading things of harmless or even uplifting nature, it can also be incredibly devastating.
As the digital and physical begin to merge, our preconceived notions of what we can and cannot do will slowly shift. If the sloping trends of a short two years show us anything, it’s just that.