(Photo by BBC News)

Photo by BBC News

Social Media’s Social Norms

The start of social media and the good and bad that has come with it.

February 25, 2021

Before social media, connecting with lots of people by showing off ideas seemed far-fetched. Now that it is here, there is disagreement about how much good there is in social media. 

Social Media has had a huge impact on our lives. I bet that someone reading this has been on Instagram or Snapchat in the past hour.

According to Scalar, Six Degrees was the first social media site. It was created in 1997, but gained popularity in 1999. It was more like a blogging site than a modern social media site.

Many don’t think of Six Degrees as the first social media site, many think of Myspace. Released in 2003, it wasn’t immediately popular. It wasn’t until 2005 that it took the world by storm. Because of its spike in popularity, News Corporation bought Myspace for $580 million. Myspace went on to be majorly popular.

“It [Myspace] was different because it was limited to your friend network and communicating with your friends. Instead of being focused on sharing with a bunch of people, people would pick interesting looking background and picking your favorite song to put on your page and formatting your layout to make your profile look good,” said Mrs. Lamb, the AP World teacher at Elkhorn north, “Now you focus on your grid, presets, and lighting and everything. The not-great part was rating your friends. You shared a lot less of yourself on Myspace. I avoided it for most of my middle school and didn’t get it till the end. Then I got Facebook my freshman year of high school. 

Following the growth of Myspace came Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. These platforms would each be popular in their own way. 

With all of these new platforms, people began to get creative. Their ideas were spread across the internet. People will find many stories on sites like Reddit, cool art on Tumblr, and rants spread across Twitter. 

Because of all of this spread of information between people, some amazing things have happened. 

According to The Guardian, Bo Harris, 55, was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2015. For 5 years he was in and out of hospitals with his condition fluctuating. Every year 22,000 people get new kidneys, but 44,000 die while on the waiting list. Since Bo Harris is older, he is not as high on the waiting list and not as eligible. He was tired of waiting and decided to start a campaign with him and his husband. 

Harris decided to post updates on his condition with the hashtag #KidneyDonorNeeded. He would attend events like a panel on kidney transplants and post it on his Instagram. 

Because of his campaign, he had hundreds of people reach out and even some donate to him. “I was so afraid to tell my story, worried that nobody would show up for me. The outpouring of love has just been so wonderful” said Harris. Even though no one has been a match for him yet, it doesn’t look like the support will be stopping and he might be able to find a donor all through sharing his story on social media. 

With all of the good that happens on social media, there is also bad. 

White nationalist groups like QAnon and Three Percenters operate mainly on recruiting through social media, pulling people in with radical extremist ideals. 

Another harmful outcome of social media is “swatting.” Swatting is where someone dials 911 and falsifies an emergency sending the police to someone else’s address. People have been killed when being swatted. Many celebrities and internet personalities get swatted every year.

Jojo Siwa who is a 17-year-old internet personality came out as part of the LGBTQ community a few weeks back. According to Insider, police showed up at her house telling her and her family to come outside. She and her family walked out with their hands up. Police have guns pointed at them. Siwa said she was “really scary,” and she thought initially the police were going after someone else in the area. They started questioning them and cleared the Siwa family of any suspicion. 

From getting a new kidney to being laid off from your job, social media has helped us through the good and the bad over the past decade and a half. With social media still being young, it could very well change over the future years. We will just have to see where it takes us.

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