All the adorable – and popular – cat videos on Facebook and the seemingly inescapable pictures of peoples’ lattes and lunches on Instagram aren’t necessarily helping us be better communicative creatures, argues Winthrop University’s library dean in his new book about social media.
“Social Media and the Good Life: Do They Connect?” was published earlier this year, written by Winthrop’s Mark Herring.
Websites such as Facebook and Twitter and smartphone apps have accelerated communication and connected millions of people worldwide, Herring says. But not everything on social media is “gold,” his new book argues.
Herring researched pitfalls of social media use and questions whether social sites can be forums for responsible communication. He writes that social networking sites are used by scammers, criminals and sexual predators, and many people now self-diagnose illness based on misinformation shared online.
Social media may be a great marketing tool for business, Herring says, but only a few sites show any financial benefit when weighed against the cost of employees accessing social media on the clock.
Herring’s 216-page book is written for a wide audience, including parents, students, government officials and educators, he said.
The book also covers legal and ethical issues surrounding social media and how social networking contributes to political scandals when private “sexting” messages or compromising photographs are widely shared.
“There is so much hate spewing out on social media about political, religious, gender and other issues, it appears to have no boundaries,” Herring says. “Social media has ushered in a new kind of pervasive incivility among us when it was meant to draw us together.”