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“The Impact of Social Media”



Pre-Listening Question

What are the positive and negative aspects of social media content in our daily lives? 

Vocabulary and Expressions

Here are some words and expressions that appear in the video:

devolve (verb): change gradually for the worse
– Some social media posts devolve into angry conversation.

dumpster fire (noun): a bad situation, disaster
– This past month was a real dumpster fire. I lost my job, my car caught fire, and I broke my leg

rabbit hole (verb): enter a situation that is complex or confusing
– I didn’t know much about the war until I started reading about it, and then, I went down the rabbit hole and studied everything I could find.

give a plug (idiom): say something to promote or generate interest in something else such as a restaurant, movie, Web site, or a product
– The manager gave a plug for our company during the online interview.

confirmation bias (verb): look for information that supports one’s current beliefs.
– Sometimes, confirmation bias can lead a person to incorrect conclusions because they only seek information supporting their current position.

stay in tune (idiom): continue to pay attention to something
– You should always stay in tune with your body when you exercise, so you don’t experience injuries.

Listening Comprehension Questions

Now, watch the interview and answer the comprehension questions. You can also turn on the automatically-generated captions for the video once you start it.


Randall: In this video, we’re going to talk about the impact of social media in our lives. And I know both of you were born before Google and before, you know, Facebook and Instagram and TikTok and so forth. But over the years, what do you think has been the effect of social media on your lives, but on people in general, both in a positive or a negative way? Aubrey.

Aubrey: Yeah. I mean. Social media. It has the potential for . . . for good. But I feel like it tends to devolve into a dumpster fire. I mean, the algorithms tend to feed you exactly what you want to see and nothing else. So, you know, you can go down like a political rabbit hole, really, so you only see what you think is important and you just get your views echoed back to you. Plus, there’s all that unrealistic stuff that you’re seeing, like people present on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok. You know, they’re happy-go-lucky, especially on Instagram. It’s like, here’s my beautiful life and my beautiful kids and my beautiful brunch that I made, uh, that’s been perfectly staged. And this is how my life is all the time. And then, you know, it just gives you an unrealistic view of other people.

Randall: Yeah, I think that’s very true. Emily, any thoughts on that? Similar thoughts, ideas?

Emily: Well, I completely agree. I don’t know if I can give a plug here, but there’s a documentary on Netflix called The Social Dilemma that talks about the dangers of social media and how they really do tailor everything you’re looking at to being your perspective, and it drives people away from each other. Um, specifically, it was talking about like political views, which we’re not going to get into here, but, you know, if you just have . . . see everything reaffirming your own beliefs, you’re not exposed or listening to the other side. It can really be dividing. Um, yeah.

Aubrey: Well, it’s also interesting too, because, um, you know, the internet tracks what you do, so it feeds back into, you know, what you’ve been doing on the Internet in general too. Like I was job searching, and I kept getting ads for the jobs I was applying for, um, but or like I was looking for a dog. And the dog breeder that I was looking at popped up on TikTok, which is kind of creepy. Social media is a little creepy sometimes. And sometimes the ads are a little too effective. I’ve bought a bunch of things from social media ads.

Randall: But Emily . . .  Aubrey, you just mentioned about ads getting pushed out to you. And Emily, you and I were talking about a similar topic. I think it came up in that documentary you mentioned. Could you talk briefly about that?

Emily: Yeah. So on social media, um, it will notice, “Oh, you liked something about X topic. So here are five more articles that reinforce your belief about X topic.” And then you finish those five more articles, and it’s learning more and more about you so it can just keep reaffirming your beliefs.

Randall: And I think that’s a really good point. And I think, Aubrey, you were talking about the same thing of this idea of confirmation bias. In other words, when we start seeing information, we have a tendency to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs. And you just mentioned here maybe these social media platforms do it for you. Just kind of feed you that information, and I have found . . . I heard a quote recently; it was talking about, you know, a lie can travel around the world . . . ever, even before truth can get their pants on. It’s kind of like just . . .  it travels so much. The spread of misinformation can be a real challenge to understanding, uh, things. But what about something positive of social media that you perhaps have experienced? Emily

Emily: EI really like being able to keep in touch with people that live far away. Um, for example, I have friends that live in other states, and it’s not feasible to go see them, but I can still have contact with them through social media. Okay.

Randall: There are things on social media that really can help us stay in tune with . . . and connected with family and friends, but also just being aware of the possibility of misinformation. So thank you for sharing your thoughts today.

Conversation Questions


  1. How has social media affected people’s lives, according to Aubrey and Emily?
  2. What are some unrealistic things people tend to showcase on social media, as mentioned by Aubrey?
  3. Discuss the impact of social media on political polarization, as mentioned by Emily.
  4. Does social media impact our self-esteem and body image? Are there certain types of content on social media that tend to have a more negative effect on our perception of ourselves?
  5. Does using social media contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation? How can we combat these feelings while still enjoying the benefits of social media?
  6. Are there any connections between social media use and mental health issues like anxiety and depression? What are some possible reasons for this link
  7. How does seeing highly idealized versions of others’ lives on social media affect our own well-being? Are there any positive aspects of social media that can offset these negative effects?
  8. Does spending too much time on social media contribute to physical inactivity? How can we strike a balance between using social media and maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle?


  1. Analyze the role of confirmation bias in social media consumption. How does the customization of content contribute to the reinforcement of existing beliefs?
  2. Evaluate the ethical concerns surrounding the use of personal data for targeted advertising and the potential risks of privacy invasion, as discussed by Aubrey.
  3. Explore the challenges posed by the spread of misinformation on social media platforms. Discuss the responsibility of users in critically evaluating information and the role of social media companies in combating false content.
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