Technology and Social MediaThe Good and the BadTechnology, including social media, are quick and expedient ways of communication and is commonly used everyday in almost every conceivable situation by almost every man, woman, and child. Computers and cellphones have influenced our world in staggering ways. The electronic devices that we use in our homes, like our clocks, televisions, and telephones, are used as part of our daily life. Even on our jobs and in our schools, technology has become a resource that we use to make our lives more manageable in ways that we take for granted. But one of the most notable influences on society we encounter in modern time with 2.80 billion users (Hainla) is social media.Statistical studies show that “North America ranks first among regions where social media is highly popular, with a social media penetration rate of 66 percent. In 2016, more than 81 percent of the United States population had a social media profile” (Statista) and as of August 2017 “A new report compiled by Hootsuite and We Are Social and published by The Next Web found that there are 3.028 billion active social media users around the world. That’s a mind-boggling number, especially when you consider that the Earth’s population is estimated to be 7.524 billion people.” (Williams, Brett)The Internet and technology are fascinating and captivating resources of information and the manner in which the Internet is accessed, and technology is employed, has established an ever-expanding reliance on it for information, social interaction, and entertainment. However, with all of the benefits of technology and the Internet plus the advancements and constant evolution of social media and technology, there is a rising awareness that there are unforeseen dangers and instances of disorder and addiction.When one thinks of addiction, the mind automatically conjures the images of someone who is suffering from a chemical dependency. “Addictions, obsessions, and compulsions— are all related to loss of voluntary control and getting trapped in repetitive, self-defeating behavior” (Holden, C)And as experts believe that anything capable of stimulating a person can become addictive; and whenever a habit seemingly becomes an obligation, it can, and should, be considered an addiction. So just as chemicals provide an alternate reality, the Internet presents an ability to create an alternate life or virtual persona that only resides in the protocols and URL’s found on the computer. One definition of addiction is “a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory. It’s about the way your body craves a substance or behavior, especially if it causes a compulsive or obsessive pursuit of “reward” and lack of concern over consequences.” (Tyler 2016) So can there be such a thing as internet addiction? And is it something society should be concerned with? Addiction in any form is an issue that affects every country in the world, and those who suffer from addiction are subjected to a decline in both their emotional and physical health. Some of the emotional symptoms of online addiction are feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, dishonesty and a myriad of other symptoms from losing track of time all the way to violence. Also, the physical symptoms range from backaches, headaches, weight gain or loss, disturbances in sleep, carpal tunnel syndrome, and blurred or strained vision (“Signs And Symptoms Of Internet Or Computer Addiction”). Other experts state that “Internet addiction has been coined as “pathological Internet use (PIU)” and “problematic Internet use.” Although there is still lack of a consensual definition of internet addiction, many scholars have agreed that internet addiction is a maladaptive pattern of internet use. It is not only time-consuming, but also leads to clinically significant impairment, and negative, behavioral, psychological and physical consequences” (Dai, Qian).Our dependence on technology is shaping how we as a society interact and communicate with each other. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms have provided the means by which we can contact people from across the globe without leaving our homes. With the growth of social media and the advancement of technology, one of the advantages is easy to access information from anywhere in the world and thereby easier for people to communicate and share with others. Whether through a tweet, a post on Instagram or a status updates on Facebook, we can instantly be informed of different issues from around the world. Social media also allows the sharing of opinions and information with an audience who would otherwise not be approachable. Social media has made a positive impact on today’s society by helping businesses grow and increasing their sales numbers and client list. Businesses will use social media as an advertising tool to let people know what is new and to market “the next big thing, that must be taken advantage of while it’s still in the spotlight” (DeMers). The reach and attention given to social media, which is ten times more effective than newspaper ads and posters, make social media the number one marketing tools for business advertisements. While social media promotes our First Amendment rights, it also leads to some concerns. One major concern of the overuse of the Internet and technology is that children, especially in their formative years, have become targets of Internet predators and cyberbullying and due to the ever growing appeal of gaming and social media platforms they are subjected to images of glamorous models that can create a distorted body image. These images sometimes place undue pressures upon them and an unrealistic portrait of reality that they must live up to in order to be attractive, popular, or how to have fun. Even more concerning is how certain messages on the Internet validate that premarital sexual relationships are acceptable, exciting, and free of consequences. A study, conducted by Eric Rice, Ph.D., that analyzed CDC data collected from 1,800 Los Angeles students ages 12 to 18, showed that “about a third of the students carried a smartphone with Internet access, and nearly half of those kids said they were sexually active. Among teens who did not use a smartphone, only a third reported having sex. The study revealed that 5% of high school students used the Internet to seek sex partners; and almost 1 in 4 is approached online for sex.” (McMillen, M.) Taking into account the benefit that social media is a helpful way to decrease the effects of social anxiety and for others, it is a way to enhance an otherwise inactive social life, there is also a risk of excessive use. “Researchers have suggested that the excessive use of new technologies (and especially online social networking) may be particularly problematic to young people. It is claimed that people addicted to using social networking sites experience symptoms similar to those experienced by individuals who suffer from addictions to substances or other behaviors” (Griffiths).But while the original objective of these social sites was to be useful, over time these means of social intercommunication has cultivated the ground for dangerous interface and cyberbullying. “The Anti-Defamation League published a report that found that during the U.S. presidential election, from August 1, 2015, through July 31, 2016, there were over 2.6 million tweets “containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech.” Additionally, at least 800 journalists received anti-semitic tweets. Of those 800 journalists, the top 10 most targeted individuals (all of whom are Jewish) “received 83 percent of these anti-Semitic tweets” (Hate Speech). As this report from the Anti-defamation League shows, social media is among some of the most influential contributors of communication in today’s society and is considered more effective than traditional media (Traditional Media).Because so much of our daily lives pivot and depend on interpersonal communication in all of its forms the Internet and technological advance have caused a decline in our interactions. Many people rely on social media as their medium of communication and results in the failure to be personally connected to the people on the other end. So although we are communicating more, we would rather email, text or “instant message.” Most people feel technology, and the use of social media has helped to improve our society, and in many ways it has. The advancement of the technology over the years is impressive, especially with all the new, applications, gadgets and devices that help to keep us connected. But just as quickly as it advances, social media is helping to lessen our ability and even our desire, to communicate in meaningful or respectful ways. Personal observation has proven that people would sooner send a text or email another person rather than to actually sit down and have a meaningful conversation that lasts longer than the 140 characters Twitter allows. It has gotten to the point where cell phones, tablets, PDAs and wearable technology, i.e., smart watches, are increasingly becoming more common and are as “important to American teens as the clothes they wear” (Reardon)Technology also influences our social behavior. Social media has created a way for those who deal with certain impairments of mobility or psychological disabilities, such as agoraphobia, to have daily communication and participation to what would otherwise be restricted. However, according to the findings of a new survey conducted by FlashGap showed that “millennials spend more time engaged on social media platforms, causing them to be less social in real life. The study also found that 87 percent of Millennials admitted to missing out on conversations and 54 percent said they fear missing out if they don’t constantly check their social networks” (Saiidi). The increased use of social media has also led to a lack of face-to-face interchange, “technology has created a quicker means for people to communicate. They have lost a significant portion of the efficacy of their speech, especially in person” (The Negative Impacts of Social Media). Face-to-face conversation teaches patience, but as social media becomes the preferred method of communication, we as a society are becoming more comfortable and gratified with virtual or cyber-communicating.Of course, there are advantages to social media. Users of social media will vouch that it is easier for people who find it difficult to approach others to associate with or make friends with to do so on social media. “Research has shown that one of the main reasons why texting and other forms of social media are preferable, especially in the case of those struggling with social anxiety” (Annie Mikulich).Social media has far-reaching effects that go beyond how we interact socially and the entertainment factor. It has now become common practice for employers to ask potential employees about their social media activity. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ allow employers to check the social media profiles, and review job seekers from the public posts to the Instagram and Snapchat pictures one upload, not to mention the manner of language that is found in the comments of others who visit your page. So the interviewing process begins long before the hiring manager, or human resource office looks at your resume, cover letter, or interview; it begins on social media. “CareerBuilder also asked employers why they use social networks to research candidates, and 65% said they do it to see if the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally. About half (51%) want to know if the candidate is a good fit for the company culture, and another 45% want to learn more about his or her qualifications. Some cited “to see if the candidate is well-rounded” and “to look for reasons not to hire the candidate” as their motives (Smith). In a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, 2,303 HR professionals stated that they review the social media accounts of and factors into their hiring process. It was revealed that “37% of employers use social networks to screen potential job candidates. That means about two in five companies browse your social media profiles to evaluate your character and personality–and some even base their hiring decision on what they find” (Smith).Consider the numerous negative effects that can be found in the use of social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter, etc. There is the risk that there are many predators for both children and women who “encounter sexualized forms of abuse at much higher rates than men. Some 21% of women ages 18 to 29 report being sexually harassed online, a figure that is more than double the share among men in the same age group (9%)” (Duggan 2017).All too often we have seen news’ reports of children being victimized by someone they met on one of the social media forums who pretended to be a peer, not to mention the incidents of women getting scammed by men who prey on them emotionally and financially. Additionally, there are those who masquerade as charities or a group funding page, though no legitimate organization exists when in fact they are totally fraudulent and simply extorting money. Social media allows for the interaction and connection with some truly wonderful people, but on the other hand, there are some who concoct elaborate background stories that upon more in-depth scrutiny and investigation were not what, nor who, they appeared to be. As a Christian, I observe how many are using social media as an extension of their pulpit, and for some, it is their pulpit and a highly productive mission field. Social media allows for an increase in our sphere of influence and can be a gateway to opportunities in evangelizing and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ that would normally be beyond our reach. Another great advantage that social media provides is the ability to participate, share and avail oneself to the countless live videos and teleconference calls, which for those who are unable to attend church services are at time the only spiritual community and fellowship they can receive. When we as Christians post or share testimony, we have a chance to bring encouragement and spiritual direction to others, all the while maintaining an awareness of the danger of becoming prideful or self-absorbed. Hebrews 10:24-25 declares “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Holy Bible. NIV).The objective of social media is to help brighten up our lives and our desires by enabling us from the comfort of our homes to instantly communicate with people from around the world who think as we do. I also think that social media affords us an opportunity to open ourselves to interchanging ideas and opinions with people who think and believe differently than we do. Although social media can be very empowering, we have to remember to be responsible and self-regulated to avoid excessively depending on it to affirm or to validate who we were created to be. The most important concept that we should take away from our experience on social media is that it is a tool and not something that we should allow to completely alter how we live. Just as we use any other tool, social media has a purpose and function that can either make life more interesting or more trying. If we allow social media to control how we think or behave fundamentally, it then becomes a weapon capable of causing harm. But if we use social media and the platform of technology for the uplifting of Kingdom purposes, decreeing and declaring the truth and wonder of Jesus Christ, we can transcend and overcome every associated danger and risk.Works CitedDai, Qian. “Gender, Grade And Personality Differences In Internet Addiction And Positive Psychological Health Among Chinese College Students.” Primary Healthcare: Open Access, 2016, https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/gender-grade-and-personality-differences-in-internet-addiction-andpositive-psychological-health-among-chinese-college-students-2167-1079-1000248.php?aid=83691.DeMers, Jayson. “The Top 10 Benefits Of Social Media Marketing.” Forbes, 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/08/11/the-top-10-benefits-of-social-media-marketing/#5c37d7981f80.Duggan, Maeve. “Online Harassment 2017.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 11 July 2017, www.pewinternet.org/2017/07/11/online-harassment-2017/.Griffiths, Mark. (2013). 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Mikulich, Annie. “THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON SOCIAL ANXIETY.” National Social Anxiety Center, 2017, nationalsocialanxietycenter.com/2016/12/20/the-impact-of-social-media-on-social-anxiety/.”Number of social media users worldwide 2010-2021.” Statista, The Statistics Portal, www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/.Reardon, Marguerite. “Teens View Cell Phones As Essential.” CNET, 2008, https://www.cnet.com/news/teens-view-cell-phones-as-essential/.Saiidi, U. (2015). How social media is making us less social: Study. CNBC. 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Social Media Advertising – Cost Comparison.” LYFE Marketing, https://www.lyfemarketing.com/traditional-media-versus-social-media/.”U.S. Population With A Social Media Profile 2017 | Statista.” Statista, 2017, https://www.statista.com/statistics/273476/percentage-of-us-population-with-a-social-network-profile/.Williams, Brett. “There Are Now Over 3 Billion Social Media Users In The World — About 40 Percent Of The Global Population.” Mashable, 2017, http://mashable.com/2017/08/07/3-billion-global-social-media-users/#bQLqmpCQqaqy.