Amy Falzon Farrugia – Opinion essay

Do we pay money to use social media? No, we don’t. So does it make it free? I say no.

Social media development has certainly come a long way since Tom Anderson founded MySpace in 2003. The media is no longer thought of as a vast source of endless information and unknowns, more often as a means of letting of steam by chatting with friends and watching funny cat videos. Unfortunately for us, using social media comes at a price, albeit not one of monetary value. In fact, the primary way social media companies such as Meta (formerly Facebook) make money is through advertisements. In other words, we are allowed to make use of the platform without providing any sort of payment in exchange for our attention and time. But that is not the only hidden cost of these “free” social media apps.

For those born into this technological era it comes naturally, almost instinctively to use the media. It is where we stay updated with the events of the world, how we communicate with our friends, how we relax. It is even the means by which some of us work because without the existence of the media, there would be less job opportunities. However, the above mentioned are but some positives in an ocean of negatives since some people feel the desire to share every thought that pops into their brain. Resulting in not only a web of flawed, inaccurate, and untrustworthy information but the
possibility that this web could alter someone’s opinion, without them even knowing it. And here enters the concept of mass media, a “means of communication that reaches large numbers of people in a short time” which can also alter the opinions of many.

Some may argue that mass media is beneficial to society, and while I agree to a certain extent due to the positive outcomes of mass media outlets such as creditable newspapers, I believe that it can, and has been used in a way that could damage society. Alas, the extensive majority of mass media outlets such as radios may be bought, thus giving the power of influence to the already powerful, allowing a small group in society to more or less, control everyone else. This leads to other questions such as, “Are we, as citizens, really free?” and, “Do we truly choose what we believe or are we influenced by false articles and fake news?” Personally, I feel that the media has a large influence on the opinions of the public with particular emphasis on older children and teenagers who have (in my opinion) suffered the brunt of the negative effects of media.

Overall, when considering the effects of social media on the mental health and wellbeing of youths and the dangerous consequences that could be brought about because of it, it is safe to say that there are costs. Therefore, I would like to conclude with the one question we all should be asking ourselves.

At the end of the day, is the price of social media really worth it?