Digital and Social Media Effects on Society Essay

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New media can seem threatening at first, as it signals deep and meaningful changes in the ways information is created and shared in the society. In "Mind Over Mass Media," Steven Pinker (2010) argues that new technologies are typically perceived as threatening until they become commonplace. Early hysteria and fear about new media soon subsides, as the actual effects of the new media are not as adverse as was initially believed. Even the printing press was considered evil in its day, according to Pinker (2010). New media has improved scientific research and has made vast amounts of quality information available more quickly to more people. One of the reasons why new media is not threatening is that the brain tends to keep information fragmented. Learning how to condense one's thoughts into a PowerPoint presentation does not imply that the same person will consistently condense his or her thoughts in other, less appropriate ways. Although the nature of new media does tend to shorten attention spans, exposure to and interaction with new media does not actually change the structure of the brain. According to Pinker (2010), people just need more self-discipline and self-mastery to avoid falling into pitfalls like distractedness or shallow inquiry. Deep reflection and exposition of the issues is possible even in the age of digital media. Thesis: New media can prevent or mediate its own potential negative effects by encouraging individuals to advance scientific knowledge and develop more powerful critical thinking skills.

New media helps advance the principles of science by helping all people have access to scientific research that would otherwise remain cordoned off in academic libraries.

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As Pinker (2010) points out, "scientists are never far from their e-mail, rarely touch paper and cannot lecture without PowerPoint," (p. 1). As a result of their increased connectivity and their use of digital technology, scientists more quickly share their results with peers, maximizing the time they spend on actual research and data collection. For example, a scientist who recently wrote a report about a longitudinal study on the long-term effects of Internet use would be able to publish those results immediately online. Even if the original article was not written for a general audience, the popular media would pick up on the results and journalists around the world could comment on the importance of the findings. Therefore, new media promotes faster and more efficient process of science that can help promote knowledge.

Another benefit of new media is that it helps people to develop stronger critical thinking skills. Being able to manage information more efficiently does not necessarily lead to improved critical thinking skills, but critical thinking can be cultivated by active intellectual inquiry. "To encourage intellectual depth, don't rail at PowerPoint or Google. It's not as if habits of deep reflection, thorough research and rigorous reasoning ever came naturally to people," (Pinker, 2010, p. 1). The Internet does not inhibit critical thought….....

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Beres, D. (n.d.). 5 weird negative effects of social media on your brain. Reader's Digest. Retrieved online:

Jung, B. (n.d.). The negative effect of social media on society and individuals. Retrieved online:

Pinker, S. (2010). Mind over mass media. The New York Times. June 10, 2012. Retrieved online:

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