Social media is becoming increasingly renowned for its dehumanising qualities, and the phenomenon is gaining a fair amount of criticism recently for its users’ reliance on technology to form and maintain basic human relationships.
Although we’re all guilty of indulging in the virtual realities of social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, spending valuable hours of the week refreshing our timelines or checking for new followers, likes and comments on our posts, there are plenty of positives to social networking.
In fact, it’s not all as superficial, narcissistic and damaging as some might think. Below are 6 personal, social and political benefits to using social media apps:
- Social Media Encourages Human Relationships and Interaction
Online communication can actually strengthen relationships and encourage human interaction, as by having a space where users can freely connect with friends, family and acquaintances, apps such as Facebook and Facebook Messenger stimulate conversation and can be used to organize events for friends to meet up, encouraging physical human interaction and connecting people in the real world.
After all, it is called social media for a reason!
- Social Networking Closes the Generational Gap
Although it was once assumed that social media is the forte of the youth, people of all ages are using social networking apps to connect with family and friends all around the world, whether it’s connecting with old friends, organising school reunions or simply keeping up to date with family members’ lives. Public announcements on social media range from graduations, pregnancies and engagements (…or in some cases divorces), allowing family members to stay connected with one another and express their well wishes and congratulations… or condolences!
For the first time ever, families can communicate in a group chat from anywhere in the world, across multiple devices and platforms. Social media is the perfect way for families to stay connected through life changes such as a university, travelling, or moving abroad, allowing them to share photos both publicly and privately.
- Increases Awareness About Current Social and Political Issues
Social media is a great way to raise awareness about current issues all over the world. Mental Health Awareness Week, for example, was trending on Twitter all week in the UK from 8th May, raising awareness and encouraging people to talk about this once-taboo subject of such importance. Not only are social networking apps an effective way of linking users to articles, news websites, blogs and charity fundraising pages, but they also provide a platform for individuals to seek support from sharing their personal experiences, giving them a voice to speak out about various issues or topics.
Facebook, in particular, is an effective platform for raising awareness, and is often a successful means of seeking financial and emotional support, usually through links to fundraising pages such as JustGiving.
- Can Increase Chances of Employment
Social media can also be a strong platform for getting recognised in the world of employment. Thousands of companies have social media accounts, and Twitter in particular can be great for getting yourself noticed or getting your point across, particularly in the world of journalism and blogging. Users can link their social media profiles directly to their blogs, portfolios, or to their accounts on employment sites such as LinkedIn.
Instagram, in particular, can be a fantastic app for the more arty people to exhibit their art, poetry or music, providing a personal online space to display multiple, direct uploads. These accounts make great portfolios to show employers your work. Or alternatively, anonymous art accounts are a great way to seek true opinions without the pity-likes of your family and friends!
- Environmentally Friendly!
Although the environment, recycling and being green, seems like the antithesis of technology due to man’s increasing carbon footprint and social media’s alleged alienation from nature, every time you use social media to wish someone a happy birthday, create an event, or simply communicate, you are saving paper on birthday cards, invitations and letters!
…Every little helps guys.
- Encourages Unity and Harmony Amongst All People
Last, but definitely not least, social media is a fantastic way to unite the people of the world, no matter the race, nationality, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, age, shape or size. Social media seems to have given birth to a new culture of acceptance and anti-prejudice, and we’re all for it!
We’ve seen Facebook’s temporary display picture filters range from a transparent French flag in support of Paris after the terror attacks in November 2015, to the ‘England Rugby’ filter for the Six Nations in March 2016, which featured the England Rugby logo at the top left of the user’s profile photo. These filters amongst others encourage a sense of unity, strength and inclusion at an otherwise divisive moment in history.
It seems that the things social media is criticised for, such as cyber bullying, posting inappropriate content and the user’s reliance on technology to form and maintain human relationships, is down to the individual’s misuse of social networking apps. When used properly and effectively, social media apps are an efficient, productive, and completely free way to stay connected in today’s society.