I have a dirty little secret.
I love Facebook.
(The minimalist in me just took a deep breath)
Hate it or love it, social media has completely changed the way we interact and live our lives. Which, of course, you already knew.
Yet despite this amazing opportunity in front of us, far too many people fail to recognize and take full advantage of it, choosing instead to share mind-numbing memes, harmful remarks against other social groups, and cat videos.
See, social media gets a bad rap, but what we forget is that it’s simply a tool. And a tool is not inherently good or bad in and of itself. What makes it good or bad is how we choose to use it.
On the hand one hand, the increase in internet bullying made possible is a real challenge. Even a small comment on a status or post can cause psychological harm. We see girls going to extreme measures to look a certain way for followers they’ve never met. People hide behind their screens and post provocative comments against those of a different color, gender, religion, or nationality. And we become addicted to constantly checking how many likes, followers, or comments we get on our latest photo.
On the other hand, the opportunities that social media brings are endless. It’s never been easier to make a positive impact on such a big audience’s lives. People are starting businesses without a traditional client base, marketing budget or even a physical location. Charities can spread their message wider than before. And, perhaps my favorite benefit of all, it’s now possible to connect with people we’d otherwise never have been able to meet.
In fact, this ability to connect with anyone anywhere in the world was one of the most common answers I received from my podcast guests when asked about the biggest opportunity for young adults today (and anyone, really).
Again, it’s about how you use it.
As for me personally, and many others, I choose to use social media intentionally (no cat videos up in here). I turn off all notifications, block it during certain (most) hours of the day, and never check my news feed (I use a combination of apps, friends lists, and tools to only see what I want to see).
By leveraging social media, I’ve become friends with people I look up to as mentors online, been able to connect with travel friends and peers on other ends of the world, build relationships with people who follow my work, and share my story, message and projects with others so that they might find some value in them.
And this is why I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that we choose to only see the negative and ignore the incredible potential that this tool brings.
We read about shallow relationships, not being present, and increased distractions. But you don’t need to delete all your accounts to solve this. You can simply choose to use them more intentionally (and less often).
In other words, it’s not because social media exists that these things are a problem. It’s because of how we’ve chosen to use it.
So put away your phone when you’re in a social setting, engage fully with the people and environment around you, limit your use to certain times of the day, turn off the incessant notifications, and only share things you would share in person. But let’s not blame social media as the root of all our problems.
Choose to see it as a tool, use it intentionally, and leverage its power for good.
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