Advantages and Impact

A minor word on advantages/disadvantages and positive/negative impacts: what’s the difference and is it productive to think they are different?

Well I wouldn’t really go so far as to say there actually is a difference since they are clearly overlapping concepts but it seems “advantages/disadvantages” tend to be used in common utterance to refer to more generic traits of the ‘thing’ causing it or personal experience while when people often discuss “impacts”, they tend to look at how it has had an effect or influence – beyond basic functionality – on the group involved.

Example 1

  • Disadvantage: Social media tends to distract me at work (limited to personal experience)
  • Negative impact: Social media has decreased productivity in the workplace

Example 2

  • Advantage: Facebook allows one to find and add friends easily (rather generic trait or functionality)
  • Positive impact: Facebook has helped enhance the social life and interpersonal relationships amongst youth with its novel and intuitive friend-searching functions

So imagine you throw a small rock into a pond. What is the impact? Is it the stone? Is it the exact spot where it landed? No, it’s in the ripples that form on the water as a result.

Similarly, when talking about the impact of say, Facebook. It about Facebook’s generic traits or the personal user experience? No, it’s in the wider effects and influence it has had on society.

 

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