Learning Outcome #4 – Artifact 1 “What Came First, the Thought or the Post?

Randy Otis
Social Media Research Project
Comm and Technology in Society – Summer 2010
Artifact #1 for Learning Outcome #4

What Came First, the Thought or the Post?

Social media platforms have become a source of constant communication within different social communities. The accessibility of positing thoughts quickly and without accountability is leading people to lose their ability to think critically. Social media platforms are fostering a mob mentality type of thinking, and reducing the amount of self-directed opinions and critical thinking based on analysis, assessment and inference. Throughout this paper I’m going to assess what critical thinking is, how social media is preventing thinking critically, how social media encourages close-mindedness, and how social media creates a lack of responsibility.
Critical thinking is a method of thinking that allows the thinker to improve and reconstruct thoughts based on analysis, interpretation and inference. This is a process where the thinker approaches a thought with a rational and open-mind, with the support of evidence. It is important during this process that thoughts are approached objectively and without the interference of emotions. Critical thinking is an internal process and relates to a person’s ability to control emotions and approach a situation logically. The thought process is an essential part of being a successful communicator, and when the self is taken out of the equation, and given to the masses, people begin to lose the ability to think critically.
As I discussed above, critical thinking is the process that relies heavily on analysis and evidence, and with the popularity of positing on social media platforms, people are relying more heavily on peer feedback. According to 4 Ways Social Media is Changing Your Relationships, there are four ways social media is changing our relationship styles including; allows us to connect with more people rapidly, it’s easier to overestimate the levels of intimacy of online relationships, it makes people more susceptible to adopting behaviors and beliefs of others, and it facilitates a comparison of oneself to others (Rashna, 2012). By allowing these behaviors to change within relationships, people are losing their ability to think critically and independently. People are relying on validations in the responses to posts from their online social communities, and there can be a real danger in forming conclusions based on sentimental responses. Without a lack of evidence and reasoning, a person becomes a follower in favor of popular support instead of seeking out answers independently.
Not only are social media platforms allowing mob mentality communications, but they are also encouraging close-mindedness. The method of thinking critically forces a person to think objectively and openly, and being close-minded stops the process short. Social media is subverting critical thinking (Brooks, 2012). Twitter is a good example of social media platform that is encouraging close-mindedness. Tweets are only 140 characters long, and do not allow the proper amount of space to defend a thought with reason or evidence. People are tweeting instantaneously without taking the time to analyze whether the thought should be posted or not. Facebook is another good example of a social platform that is creating a close-minded approach to thinking. With instant access, through cell phones, people are “liking” posts and creating a contest and not a discussion. The dialogue that is created by commenting on posts is not a discussion, but a popularity contest, and a skewed one at that. Shorter comments are more likely to get “liked” because they are easier to read and people do not want to take the time to digest a longer comment. People are no longer analyzing and interpreting opinions, they are showing support in the easiest and quickest way possible.
Social media is creating a lack of critical thinking, but it is also enabling people to be critical, without the thinking. According to Is Social Media Bad for Business?, there are four bad behaviors that social media encourages; no guilt, mob mentality, relative anonymity, and no accountability (Babara, 2012). Posts are being made without any real responsibility to the communications that are being made public, and online bullying has reached an all time high. People have a tendency to be aggressive in their communications when it is hidden by a false anonymity. With the barricade of anonymity people tend to be more critical and aggressive in their posts, and because critical thinking has left the picture, people’s responses to posts have become less thoughtful, so fewer challenges are made. In addition, people are liking posts that are quick to read and simple, so they aren’t thinking independently, but instead following the mob by liking what is popular. By “liking” a post without any thought, especially an overly critical one, the communication is just perpetuated. Relationships can be hurt over these critical spur of the moment posts, and people are still beginning to grasp this new realm of communication.
Not only are these critical posts bad for social relationships, but they are having a big impact on businesses (Barbara, 2012). More organizations are heading towards social media to market their products and because of that push they have opened themselves up to a platform that allows instant criticism. Social media has become an extension of a person’s thoughts, beliefs and opinions, and because of the quick access to critical comments some businesses have come under attack. In the past, if one person received bad service they told ten people about it. In this new world of communication, when someone posts something negative the whole social community now can see that criticism.
In conclusion, social media platforms can prevent critical thinking, encourage close-mindedness, create a lack of responsibility and promote being critical without the thinking. Social media is a communication tool that the majority of the world has access to. People need to understand what a powerful tool it is, and also develop an understanding of the impact posts and responses have on mass communication. Critical thinking is a method of thought that allows a person to expand from their perspective alone and approach resolution through evidence and analysis. Without the ability to think critically people reach opinions based on emotions, which isn’t always the best way to form a conclusion. Being able to think critically is an essential part of being a good communicator and without our ability to be self-aware and self-manage, communications can become skewed. Although social media has its limitations, it also has a great ability to connect people instantaneously, but greater awareness needs to be reached on the impact social media platforms have on communications and its relationship to critical thinking.

Barbara, Juliet. “Is Social Media Bad For Business?” Forbes.com. N.p., 11 Nov. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
Bradley, Steven. “Social Networking Leading to Less Critical Thinking.” Webpronews.com. N.p., 04 Apr. 2008. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
Brooks, Jason. “Social Media Subverts Critical Thinking.” Dailycollegian.com. N.p., 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
Ioerger, Roderick. “Is Social Media an Impediment to Problem Solving?” Marketingpilgrim.com. N.p., 02 Apr. 2008. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
Jones, Dr. Rachna. “4 Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Relationships.” Socialexaminer.com. N.p., 30 June 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .


About Randy Otis

My goal is to help everyone understand what i've learned and how i've progressed through different learning experiences at Carroll University.

Posted on December 14, 2012, in Carroll University Portfolio, Summer Semester 2010 - Learning Objective #4. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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