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The Purpose Of Social Media

An alternative view of social media

Social media arrived off the back of an idea, an idea that was the product of a mind that wanted to see how technology could connect people from across the world, and it worked on a technological basis. Its stamina is off the back of ideology, and it stayed in our lives for a reason, a purpose. This means that social media is not the neutral space we all thought it was, there is always an agenda.

social media and society
Source: socialappshq.com

We all see social media as a way to connect with family and friends. Every social media platform you sign up to will be greeted with calming colour schemes, and perfect font, to reflect safety and tranquility, and this may be because it is designed to bring people together, but then again its primary purpose may be to collect data and encourage consumption. A more insidious thought is that it is designed to give the illusion of bringing people together, so that it can sell products, ideas, and collect data.

If the purpose of social media is to collect data, then it is appropriate to figure out what this ambiguous phrase means. Do they collect data for cultural research? Surveillance strategies? Or simply marketing? All three of these are viable reasons for the people in control, but it could also be to help organise people politically.

All technology is political in some sense, as it is designed so that we invest into its features. Physical technology is based around the idea of a perfect specimen, which can be seen in the design of many products, and off the back of the cosmetic features technology offers, we invest money, which in turn goes into the bank of big corporations, that are hand-in-hand with the government. Online technology is slightly different due to the nature of it. Facebook for example is essentially based on a classically liberal format. Its public purpose is to provide a platform for free speech, and it seemingly favours the free market, and many who have studied this is great depth have labelled Facebook as a product of “Californian ideology.”

Despite the above, there is an element to Facebook that makes the user feel somewhat manipulated. They use relationships to try and sell you things, and try and map connections and ideas about culture through the pages you like. In addition to this, it is the biggest database of citizens in the world, and people add personal information on there with joy. Considering the NSA and GCHQ have access to the site, means that the general public are doing half their job for them.

social media and society
Source: business2community.com

Twitter feels free in contrast to Facebook, and hashtags mean that information is easy to find. The premise of Twitter is great, and it allows the user to publish their views in 20 characters, but because of the freedom that Twitter promotes, it can leave you exposed. If a comment is published in the heat of the moment, it can be instantly retweeted by millions, and the damage can be fatal for your reputation.

Social media is a great idea, but the user needs to be aware of what they are signing up for before taking the plunge. There are far too many people going in blind, unaware of the political motives behind social media. Even the hashtags on Twitter can be insidious, as they are mostly about news stories that are published in the daily news papers, and most of the time they have negative tag lines, or they are about celebrities leading an unattainable lifestyle for many. This creates an individual that strives to be ingrained into the XFactor way of life, where you never break out of a manufactured lifestyle created by the press.

As social media has become so big, it has been exposed, and this was always going to be the case. Anything that is so popular is never going to be perfect, and will always find itself with opposition, and social media is no different. It is an integral part of the way we now live, and unfortunately the way we live is dictated by hierarchy.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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The Purpose Of Social Media Reviewed by Alex Smith on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 Rating: 5
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