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The unintended consequences of social media technology

By Amelia Ellicott

Is society more connected, or are we more connected to our devices?


A man on a smartphone.Although Chuck Nice’s TED talk on the unintended consequences of technology is comedic, the topic is serious and something all PR pros should think about. Recent technology, more specifically social media, has had some unpredicted consequences on society. Technology was supposed to be the futuristic invention to bring us together, and we succeeded in that — but not in the way we imagined. 




Social media has also impacted dating with misleading apps like Tinder. Social dating apps can make it harder to have a genuine connection with someone. You become so infatuated with what you see on-screen that you fail to see the person they are deep down. 


However, social media has made it easier for PR professionals to build connections with their audience because it provides easy channels for communication. It’s important to not lose sight of building meaningful relationships even though most communication now occurs through a screen. 


Nice mentions artificial intelligence, one of the most talked about futuristic technologies. These machines are being programmed on how to fight, think, practice deception, and understand our behavior. Even Elon Musk, Steven Hawking, and Bill Gates have reservations about AI. Artificial intelligence is a technology advancement that we should tread lightly with. Come on, have we not seen The Terminator or I, Robot and learned our lesson? 


Artificial intelligence could be useful for PR professionals though. It could help them free up more time by automatically drafting an email for a press release. However, even if AI could mimic human responses, it cannot give the same level of human emotion needed to help clients. 


Public relations is a forward-thinking profession, focused on image-building and making meaningful connections. How can PR professionals take the technology given to them and turn it into something great? 


With advancements in technology like virtual augmented reality, live streaming, and AI, the PR industry can learn how to embrace these technologies to aid employers in building lasting relationships with clients, even through a computer screen. 


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Amelia is an intern at Axia Public Relations for the spring 2021 semester. She will be graduating in April with a bachelor of science in public relations and a minor in digital marketing. Amelia has a passion for writing and a love of helping others and meeting new people.


Photo by Jacob Townsend on Unsplash

Topics: shared media, social media

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