Social media has gotten a bad rap lately, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a nonstop, rarely edited stream of interactive content, literally at your fingertips. It’s easy to become addicted when each “refresh” brings up a wealth of new information and breaking news. Some people find it so toxic that they’re taking a stand against it, like ex-instaqueen Essena O’Neil.
I, like Essena, have seen the toxic side of social media. In college, I would stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, scrolling Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, among others, afraid that I would miss something if I went to bed before the rest of the Internet. And let me tell you, the Internet never sleeps.
Fast forward two years, and I’ve developed a much healthier relationship with social media. One could say I’ve matured – it doesn’t give me anxiety to put my phone down at night, I go to bed at a reasonable hour (read: I got a big girl job) and sometimes I even charge my phone in a different room. Baby steps, y’all. Baby steps.
So, in the spirit of my favorite food-centered holiday, here are a few reasons I’m thankful for social media:
1. It provides a sense of community.
When something funny goes viral on social media, it feels like the entire world has an inside joke. When there’s a tragedy, we rally together and spread hashtags or Gofundme pages to create awareness. Social media provides a sense of community that wasn’t possible before the Internet was around, with the ability to talk and share with friends, family and even strangers across the globe at the click of a button.
You may not know if the dress is black and blue or white and gold, but I can bet you know what I’m talking about.
2. It’s a platform for creativity.
Without social media, there would be no Justin Bieber, and thus, no reason to live. Okay, not really, but social media makes it possible for the little guy with little to no resources to share their talents with the world and (sometimes) become a global pop sensation.
For those of us not looking for fame, but still interested in sharing pieces of ourselves with the public, social media is a creative outlet. Some people sing, some dance, some paint, I tweet. Of course I write longer content as well, but I feel like most of my best work is 140 characters or less.
3. It’s a backstage pass.
What does Beyoncé eat for breakfast? How many pairs of shoes are in Kylie Jenner’s closet? What did Barack Obama think of the Bulls season opener? These are the hard-hitting questions that we now have answers to, thanks to platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
Social media provides a sneak peek into the lives of many powerful people and gives them a chance to share their feelings, thoughts and opinions with an eager audience. Whether it’s something as trivial as someone’s current favorite song, or a more important matter, like encouraging young people to vote, social media lets the public feel connected to celebrities in a way that we never could before.
4. It keeps you in touch with family and friends.
It’s pretty rare for me to see my siblings more than a few times a year, and all but one of my closest friends from high school live in other cities. Social media allows me to watch my nieces grow up and lets me keep up with my best friends as we make our foray into adulthood.
You can also keep in touch with people you aren’t as close to anymore, who you’d probably lose touch with otherwise. I’m friends with my entire high school cheerleading squad on Facebook, and, though we rarely speak, it still makes me smile when one of them likes a post.
5. It’s become a powerful tool in PR.
Social media provides a great opportunity to give your brand a voice. Whether it’s serious and scientific with a touch of fun like General Electric, or hip and hysterical like Taco Bell, social media provides the opportunity for businesses to speak to and interact with their consumers like never before.
Because social media is free and generally user-friendly, it gives businesses of every size the chance to connect with their audience.
Social media has been a big part of my life for the past decade. I’m happy to say, I finally found a job that welcomes my social media obsession here at the Bradford Group, and for that, I am most thankful.
All gifs via giphy.com