Do the positives outweigh the negatives of social media?
It’s no secret social media has had its fair share of negative influence on young people.
When I was in middle school, the cyber-bullying began. I escaped unscathed, but many didn’t. Rumors travelled at lightning speed about kids being pregnant, or having stripper mothers– all through the medium of the internet. I vividly remember an Instagram account ran by an anonymous student meant to “expose” other students’ nude photographs.
With this corrupt behavior, how can social media be a good thing?
Kids are terribly cruel, but that can’t negate what social media has done for us.
1. Social Media Connects Anyone, Anywhere
When I suffered through heartbreaks or mental health issues, my lifelines were a call away. When my roommate and good friend left America to return to Germany, I still could speak to her at will. Friends lost from time are rediscovered. I never have to truly lose someone to distance.
My best friend lives in our hometown, while I live one and a half hours away. We used to be neighbors, a handful of steps from the other’s door. We still keep up with eachothers lives like we did when we lived one house away from each other. While times spent away from technology together are the best, our friendship couldn’t survive without it.
Whether directly next to each other or on the opposite side of the planet, we can communicate with the help of social media.
2. Social Media Supports Activism
Social media activism is when someone advocates for a cause via social media. The first major social media cause I witnessed was #BlackLivesMatter in 2013. Today, everyone knows of this cause. I even had the opportunity to participate in a protest in my smaller town.
Activism spreads like wildfire over social media. If you want to see your cause take off quickly, this is the way to do it. Social media movements have effectively shifted perspectives on a variety of topics, including racism and sexual assault. Regardless of political affiliation, social media allows a place to engage in debates and discussions.
About half of all Americans have used social media as an avenue for civic discussion in the past year. It has become a major hub for activism in the modern age, and one world leaders have learned to pay attention to.
3. Social Media Lowered Pandemic Pressures
This is no surprise considering how the internet kept us connected. Sharing between friends, working from home, and being able to host events via Zoom was a huge part of the lockdown. Churches were able to have services while also considering the safety of the congregation, and schools could continue teaching over the internet.
There’s no doubt these things would have been much more difficult if we were locked down without social media. Information about everything was easy to obtain, and we could identify others who were experiencing the same issues easily.
Social media has contributed greatly to mental health in pandemic times by keeping us connected.
4. Social media can connect you with people with common interests
Social media provides thousands of niche groups for any interest. It can be difficult to find people with common interests or lifestyles in your immediate area, but it’s easy to chat with them online. For example, I collect a particular type of stuffed animal, and I am in various groups of other people who do the same via social media.
Facebook and Reddit both provide large communities for like-minded people. Whether you’re looking for people who like LEGOs as much as you do, or people who are really into their poodles, there is a group of people online that would love to talk about these things with you.
In cases like parenting groups, there can be some really good advice to pick up. People become friends, and begin to provide emotional support for each other. I’ve found that interest groups generally have a really positive atmosphere.
5. Social media is great for networking
Once upon a time, going outside was essential for forging valuable connections. Now, you can make these connections right from home.
With sites like LinkedIn now hosting more than 700 million people, professional relationships are readily available. You have the opportunity to share content and numbers with a huge audience, who happen to be other professionals who might really like what they see. You can message them, show support, and gain their attention right from the computer screen.
People use social media to find their next big job opportunity, and it’s worked for many. Millions of jobs are listed on LinkedIn alone.
Creatives like photographers often gain most of their clients from social media alone. A lovely gal I knew from highschool now shoots photos full time and has a loyal Instagram following backing her up.
These are opportunities we wouldn’t have if not for social media.