Social media is one of the most contradicting phenomena of the 21st century. People can create their accounts, share their thoughts, and exchange news in different ways. People think that they can control social media and gain many benefits. At the same time, social media is characterized by some unpredictable outcomes and impacts. In this paper, the impact of social media on stereotypes towards minorities will be discussed to clarify if it is possible to decrease the negative stereotyping or not. There are many types of minorities, and such platforms as Facebook or Twitter can change the lives of people regarding their social groups and histories. The relations between social media and minorities are hard to explain, and this paper aims at discussing the nature of these relations from different perspectives.
Nowadays, it is hard to imagine everyday life without social media. Its strongest characteristic is the impact on people. It means that people are ready to use different sources of social media and believe that they create information and control its impact on the readers and users. However, today, social media is a massive issue that can be used to support or abuse people (Farrington, Hall, Kilvington, Prince, & Saeed, 2014). Many types of minorities live around. They are based on religious, ethnic, racial, language, and other issues.
In this paper, it is expected to investigate the frequent types of minorities and the ways they can use social media to solve their problems and be introduced to society. Besides, it is necessary to investigate the rise of social media and its possible impact on people, who want their voices to be heard. Finally, the discussions on how social media can change the lives of minorities and decrease negative stereotypes will be developed. The integration of social media in human life cannot be neglected or misunderstood, and minorities are the groups of people who should try to use the impact of social media to achieve certain benefits and improvements.
Rise of Social Media
Though social media is a relatively new term (Farrington et al., 2014), its actual impact and history remain significant. It is possible to investigate the spread of media during the times of Cicero and compare its impact with the impact of social media on modern people. As a rule, such factors as speed, quality, and the possibility to comment on news and stories are considered. Today, people can use social media for different purposes. For example, on the one hand, it is possible to access the World Wide Web and read the latest news, observe events, and get to know what people think about different things. On the other hand, people use the Internet to share their knowledge and experience, to inform each other about something, and to develop personal opinions on different topics.
Social media has many definitions. It may be interpreted as a method of interactions between people or several computer-mediated technologies with the help of which people can create and share their ideas. Farrington et al. (2014) suggest defining social media as a collection of tools that increase people’s ability to cooperate and take collective action. Today, there are many examples of social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, etc. Not many people can admit the fact that they depend on something. That is the main source of social media power and its fast and influential rise in society.
Importance of Minorities’ Voices
The role of social media is impressive indeed because different social groups get a chance to introduce themselves, understand each other, and be understood by others (Leavitt, Covarrubias, Perez, & Fryberg, 2015). Such an impact of social media cannot be neglected when the representatives of different minority groups try to demonstrate their opinions and prove the chosen positions.
Sometimes, the presence of minorities may help to stabilize society and create the required portion of the order. However, in most cases, the development of negative stereotypes towards minorities can prevent the establishment of trustful and fair relations between people and decrease the speed of social and other types of progress. Especially, much attention is paid to the way of how different social groups are introduced in social media. For example, Latinos suffer from the stereotypes developed in social media where they are represented as violent and hypersexual people, unsuccessful students, or parents with no interest in their children (Scharrer & Ramasubramanian, 2015). African Americans are portrayed as negative and violent people with several ambitions and crude, single-item measurements (Tukachinsky, Mastro, & Yarchi, 2015).
It is wrong and unfair to judge people in regard to their nationality, ethnicity, or other factors that make people different. Social media is a tool that can be used by people so that they can be heard and understood. Ethnic minorities may use media platforms to introduce themselves, strengthen their identities’ awareness, and improve their language, cultural, and historical heritage (Rankovic, 2012). Some people find it necessary to use blogs and other services to educate each other and contribute to people’s well-being (Bull, 2016). Different minorities have different knowledge to share with other people in terms of medicine, science, technology, or psychology. Their experience is the best and, what is more important, a free source of information.
Types of Minorities in Social Media
Some people may think that stereotypes developed in social media differ because of the types of minorities offered. There are many types of hierarchies of minorities that may be linked not only to religion, language, or race but also to the length of time within the frames of which an ethnic community exists (Alia & Bull, 2006). It is hard to cover the challenges all groups of people may face within social media. Therefore, in this paper, certain attention is paid to several minority groups, including racial differences such as Latinos, African-Americans, and Native Americans and their invisibility (Leavitt et al., 2015), and religious minorities such as Jewish and Islamic people. Social media is a chance for them to describe their interests and make other people accept them as they are.
Social Media and Biased Stereotypes
Social media may be defined as a threat and a possibility for people to be accepted or ignored by society. Minorities undergo a considerable impact on social media. From one point of view, the media may not cover the main problems minorities face in real life (Crowley, 2015). Therefore, it is possible to say that social media cannot introduce a clear, full picture of how minorities are treated, what information minorities try to present, and why people continue using social media.
There is also another aspect of social media and its possible to call into question different stereotypical views and mitigate the negative effects of stereotypes (Scharrer & Ramasubramanian, 2015). Sometimes, it is enough to create a theme for discussion and involve several people to make them invite other people. With time, one single topic may become a huge topic with some aspects and opinions. People may share their attitudes, discuss their cultural or religious backgrounds, and explain why it is not always fair to believe what other people say.
In general, the investigations on social media and its impact on the development of stereotypes towards minorities prove the inability to predict the results and gain control over all activities taken and words written. Despite an impressive power of social media and people’s ability to use Twitter, Facebook, or other platforms any time they want, it is impossible to predict the impact these social services may have on people and minorities, in particular. However, the possibilities to express personal opinions, share individual thoughts, and make corrections any time it may be needed are the peculiar features of social media. Nothing makes people follow or avoid the information offered via social media platforms. People are free to use their knowledge and preferences. At the same time, people cannot neglect the fact that social media does impact their lives in different ways. It is high time to comprehend if it is a positive or negative impact.
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Bull, J. (2016). Using social media to teach consumers about heart health [Blog post]. Web.
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