Social Media and the Good Life: Do They Connect?

Kay Samuels (Department of Legislative Library and Research Services, Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Toronto, Canada)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 5 June 2017



Samuels, K. (2017), "Social Media and the Good Life: Do They Connect?", The Electronic Library, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 616-617.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

The purpose of this book is to examine the value of social media and discuss the legal and ethical pitfalls of usage. The book is written for a wide audience including government officials, educators and parents. Different social media platforms promote different usage, and Herring looks at the benefits and risks associated with that use.

Chapter 2 discusses how social media was designed to facilitate connections between people. Other chapters track the history of social networking and how the government uses social media. This includes how politicians such as Obama and Trump use social media in elections and Edward Snowden.

In the education context the discussion includes how there is no gatekeeper. The question asked is whether social media helps or hinders academic work, especially with privacy issues around online submissions and the risk of cyber snooping. It also talks about the problem of online predators and cyberbullying. Herring says that the next step is for legislation to enact cyberbullying laws to curtail its incidence. Benefits of social media in the education context include teaching students to read, spell and collaborate.

In Chapter 5, the discussion encompasses uses of social media by disabled people and talks about the benefit of bringing people together, exposing abuses and removing barriers to accessibility. Some of these solutions include technical advances such as voice recognition and text to speech programs. However, this cannot improve the majority of user-generated content and leads to the problem of enforcing accessibility laws.

The next chapter discusses the benefits of social media in the business community, especially through marketing, although statistics have not shown increased sales. Herring also discusses the rise of social media abuses at work. He predicts that businesses will need to create stronger social networking policies.

Privacy is a big issue stopping people using social media as the risk factors are high. Chapter 8 talks about the growing problem of identity theft so we need to protect vulnerable people such as children and the elderly. Some tips to avoid identity theft include not revealing private information online, changing passwords regularly and to not overshare. However, the only safe way is to stay off social media totally.

Connecting with others is an important reason for social media usage. One field that excels in this area is the sharing of online medical information to connect those with similar illnesses. Sites like WebMD make it safer and more effective to obtain online medical advice. However, the prevalence of self-diagnosis is increasing when medical advice should be sought.

Although it is unlikely that social media will get a conscience, the main benefits of using social media are to foster community, educate the public about the law and give current and topical comments. Herring gives a thorough coverage of these issues and some tips toward healthier social media usage.

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