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Risks And Benefits Of Social Media

1164 words - 5 pages

Social networking has increasingly had a huge impact on society. Technology has opened the door to a vast amount of information and to the ability to relay that information to practically anybody at anytime and anywhere. People are constantly checking their email, updating their status on Facebook, sending tweets on Twitter, instant messaging, and texting. The debate of whether the use of social networking is a negative or positive aspect is a continuous one. In the case of Steven Pinker, his essay “Mind over Mass Media” argues that media technologies have a positive effect on mental development. In contrast, Sherry Turkle’s essay “Connectivity and Its Discontents” asserts that technology has a negative effect on interpersonal relationships. Although Pinker makes many excellent points on how technology is improving intelligence and Turkle provides exceptional ideas of how technology is damaging to relationships, neither Pinker nor Turkle provides the best answer to this question due to their lack of credibility and inclusion of logical fallacies. Instead, we should, while aware of the risks and dangers of social networking, use the Internet to its full potential.
In his essay “Mind over Mass Media,” Steven Pinker proposes that media technologies are beneficial to mental development. According to Pinker, the rise of new forms of social media have been linked to the reduction in crime. He supports this claim by stating that the emergence of “video games in the 1990s coincided with the great American crime decline” (3) and that “the decades of television, transistor radios and rock videos were…decades in which I.Q. scores rose continuously” (3). He also mentions that new technologies have made more resources available, and in turn, has led to the improvement in areas of study by speeding up research processes and making new discoveries much easier. “If electronic media were hazardous to intelligence,” commented Pinker, “the quality of science would be plummeting, [but instead,] discoveries are multiplying like fruit flies, and progress is dizzying” (4). Furthermore, Pinker points out that most media researchers think the brain becomes whatever it consumes, and therefore, is harmful to human intelligence. However, Pinker suggests that “these technologies are the only things that will keep us smart” (11) and in reality do not turn one’s thoughts into whatever it consumes.
Although Pinker provides a strong argument in regards to the positive aspect of social networking, his supporting evidence has some flaws. Pinker’s primary argument regarding video games creates a post hoc fallacy. Pinker assumes that the decreasing crime rate was due to the rise of new technologies. However, he fails to consider that other factors could have caused the downfall in crime. Also in his essay, Pinker promotes a fallacy by begging the question when discussing the science field. He implies that the quality of science is thriving due to advances in technology. However,...

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