Hundreds of articles plague the internet about the detriments of social media. All people want to talk about is the lack of privacy that comes by being on a social network. They want to talk about how bad it is that people are more social online, but not social enough in real life. And of course there are complaints about depression and the ‘Fear of Missing out’ (Fomo) that comes with looking at other people’s perfect pictures on your home feed all day. Trust me, I am well aware of the negatives of social media. I sometimes feel them too.
Once every blue moon, a certain sadness arises. A certain ‘compare and despair’ attitude, where I look at what someone else has and wonder why I have to go to work instead of jetting off to New York for Fashion Week. But then again, I love browsing my social media. I love seeing what my friends are up to and knowing what the latest trends are, where people are travelling to and how someone is celebrating their honeymoon. The population of social media users is larger than the population of China. There are 2.6 billion people in the world that are part of a social networking platform. The amount of users alone, is a strong indicator of how much people love social media.
I’ve also met a lot of people who are anti-social media. They say they value actual human connection. But guess what? Just because I use and love social media, does not mean that I don’t value human connection and real-life interaction. There is a happy medium of both real-life socialising and online platform socialising.
For some it’s difficult to find that balance, but for most people, people like me, social media is just another part of their life. We wake up and go to work and go to the gym and come back home day in and day out. We eat out with friends and we party on occasion. We go to the beach and try new ice creams. Social media does not stop us from living, we just capture moments and remember them fondly, as we look back at our online photo albums.
Then there are those, who are on social media, but who also hate that they are on social media. They make fun of others for taking selfies. They roll their eyes at other’s photos and they just scroll through feeds with a frown. However, most of the ones doing the critiquing, know deep down that their life would be less entertaining without it.
Some say that social media makes us less social, I say that social media is bringing us closer than ever before. These days it is far easier to do something that is noteworthy and have it reach people across the planet, whether it’s tweeting from the moon or taking a selfie from space. Social media gives us globalised voices. It completely changed the way we communicate and share information with one another. Social media has overthrown presidents. It has been the force for many revolutions. We can follow the lives of people that we haven’t physically seen in years. We can be proud of the success of our family members, or appreciate the humour of our summer camp friend from 10 years ago. Social media is a revolutionary tool.
To all those people saying they don’t want to know what others have for breakfast every day, I say that seeing these breakfast posts on social media give me ideas on how to do things differently in my life. Social media inspires me to live a healthier life. On a daily basis, I see pictures of other people enjoying a healthy breakfast. I see fresh kale juice and poached eggs. I see good fats and whole-wheat bread.
I see a lifestyle that inspires me to become better and healthier. I am encouraged to eat the avocado on toast or to splash some chia seeds into my organic coconut milk. I love #Instafood. Social media is a great tool that allows me to expand my sources of information on most things, not just breakfast. These days almost everything is being written about, blogged about, shared and snapped. The amount of content on anything has increased substantially, whether it is product reviews, make up tutorials, cooking videos or arts and crafts; everything is instant and delivered right to my feed.
A traveller’s journey is also something that is so different these days than what it used to be. I don’t need to waste my time with expertly put together guides or professional itineraries, all I need is to search a hashtag of a neighbourhood on Instagram and the best coffee shops, breakfast places and nightclubs pop up.
I’m talking about the neighbourhood eateries that the locals go to and post about, rather than the tourist spots in guidebooks. The result of people posting aspects of their life on social media, is that I, and many others like me can learn about where to go and what to try.
You have to honestly ask yourself if you would ever stay in touch with your friend from summer camp through e mail or long distance phone calls. Most of the time, the answer is no. The best way for people to stay in the mind and lives of others is through their social media interactions. We see pictures of our friend living abroad. We can see their babies learn to walk. We watch them getting married. We keep up with their fitness journeys. We are closer that way, than through a bi-weekly call or email correspondence.
Here is the part I don’t like to admit. The reason I contribute regularly to my social media, is because these platforms allow me to portray my life in a certain way. Artists can show their work, car enthusiasts will share images and thoughts about cars, I am neither of these things, but I am outgoing and active. I eat out a lot and I try new places. I capture my moments on social media and I look at this platform of curated images and I see perfection. No one’s life is perfect. No one in the entire world! But one thing about my life can be, and that’s my personal photo album that lives on my social platform forever.