Are People Taking Advantage of the First Amendment?

Teen girls chat on cell phones.

With the election year in full force and many of the nation’s issues on the line, there are a lot of things the average American needs to take into consideration. Some of the biggest issues are how the new president is going to provide more jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy. In recent years, we have seen the U.S. economy fluctuate in many different areas. Some say small businesses are the backbone of the economy, but in the modern marketplace small business life expectancies are diminishing. Small businesses are responsible for creating roughly three-fourths of the country’s new jobs, yet there is a rise in the nation’s unemployment.

Social media affects the world around us

There are several factors to take into consideration of the nation’s weakening economy, but I want to touch on the impact the public can have on this matter. As the world has become controlled by the internet and social media, you have seen many of these Mom and Pop shops go away. Social media has changed the world tremendously, and the average person does not know the power it holds. Some people have taken advantage of this to spread the word about great issues, while some people have abused it to hurt people and bring people down, in most cases not knowing the true powers it has.

Many small businesses have seen great things come from the world of social media, along with many seeing the wrath that it can have on a small business and its reputation. So, as a consumer and customer I urge you to practice your first amendment as you see fit. Keep in mind, though, that what you put on social media is out there for good, and could be really harmful to small business owners. It is easy for anyone to hide behind social media and say whatever they want about someone else, but is that really helping?

How social media affects small businesses

Many people do not understand how a lot of these social media sites work, and the impact it truly has on a person’s livelihood. For example, let’s say a customer is at a restaurant on a Friday night, at 6:30. The place is packed and the service is a little slower, compared to a Monday afternoon. As the customer, are you going to be understanding that this a good, reputable business and, thus, busy for a reason? Or are you going to be that customer that gets furious, even though you went to a good restaurant and got a great meal, and write a one star review for “poor service.” Even though the service was not poor, just a little slow, this one star review outweighs several five star reviews. Now this is made public, and seen by every potential customer of this business. This could influence a person to eat at a fast food chain rather than sit down to eat at a local business, helping the local economy, which in the end helps the nation’s economy.

On the other hand, if you sit down at this same restaurant, at the exact same time, and the wait staff is rude and your meal is served cold, with a hair in it, then this business deserves a one-star review. Even though both experiences are completely different, and had two different outcomes, they are seen in the online world as the same “one star” experience. As a potential customer, you see a “one star” and automatically assume that the business is not reputable, and you lean elsewhere to get that product or service.  

Social media has immense power

Many people have taken advantage of these powerful review sites and defamed many businesses. It could be a disgruntled employee, a competitor, or an unhappy customer that can try to damage a business’s reputation for personal gain. Let’s face it, almost everyone looks at a business’ reviews online to determine if they want to use that business’ products or services. Review sites have given us, as customers, the chance to get to know a business without wasting our time to try it out for ourselves. There is definitely a place for these reviews sites, but sadly, in today’s world, not everything you read on the internet is true, and there are always two sides to the same story.

Be responsible with free speech

This country has seen too many small businesses be destroyed by the powers of social media. So, as a customer, be very careful how you go about practicing your first amendment rights, because what you write can be taken out of context, and perceived in a different way by the reader and potential customer. This country was founded by our forefathers, who gave us these rights to practice with responsibility, and not to be taken advantage of. So, as a whole country, we need to take responsibility and think before we act, because the smallest of things can build up over time and affect more than just you in the long run. There are many issues that are more prominent in this country, at this time. However, we Americans can do the little things, and stop blowing everything out of context and pointing fingers. We, as a country, can turn things around, and see long a lasting impact for this country, if everyone does their part.