I see it at least a few times per week; well-meaning friends threatening to delete all of their social media accounts. Either they feel like they are wasting too much time, or they are irritated with (or jealous of) what their friends are posting. Of course there can be negative impacts to social media; but, rather than deleting all your accounts, put them to work for you!
When it comes to social media, you get out of it what you put into it. There is no doubt that social media has made a huge impact on society. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, in my opinion. Think about it: you can now keep up with long-lost cousin Sally and her newborn baby, contribute to your friend’s daughter’s fundraiser, view live videos of the latest breaking news story, learn how to grow the perfect vegetables in raised beds, find your dream job, rally prayers for your husbands surgery, ask for recommendations for the best local electrician, buy the latest trendy fall sweater, and instantly access instructions on cooking 4-hour Chicken Alfredo in a crock pot for dinner tonight. It’s easy to see why you can’t do without social media!
Before the advent of social media, our connections with others (beyond those we see on a daily basis) relied heavily upon available time: time to write a letter, time to make a phone call, time to receive that phone call, or time to meet up in person. Time is a precious commodity; so when someone gives you their time, it is truly a gift. But now, while we can still write a letter (do people still do this?), phone Grandma, or meet for coffee, we can interact with hundreds of people at our choosing each week. Social media makes it possible to have human interaction with old friends from school, family members up and down your family tree, key business colleagues from current and former jobs, your high school football coach, your academic advisor, and…. well, you get the picture! The best part is, you have total control of who you allow on your accounts. YOU have to filter what you want to see. If you don’t like seeing your old sorority sister’s daily bikini photo, delete her as a connection; most platforms allow you to mute a connection while remaining friends. But, seeing photo’s of your niece’s newborn baby every week from 5 states away is priceless.
Social media gives you a voice, and an audience to listen. Yes, we have always had a voice, but now we can be heard. If you scream too loud about anything, expect that some will delete or mute you. Regardless, social media has allowed expression about everything from a fantastic review of a local restaurant, to a warning about avoiding Joe Mechanic over on Main Street. It allows us to voice our opinion on the school board’s decision to extend class periods, the construction project on interstate 70, and who we think would make the best President. You now have a platform to state your case about anything and everything, which is a very liberating benefit! There are certainly consequences to speaking unfiltered, but social media takes freedom of speech to a whole new level. So speak out, rally some supporters, and make change!
There is a tremendous opportunity for personal growth through the use of social media, if you set up your accounts to do so. Social media makes you smarter! Many platforms are loaded with amazing articles and “how-to” info graphics on everything imaginable. Use your social media to learn! Learn more about your town by following local news. Learn more about your career by following organizations that specialize in your field of study. Learn something new by searching and following accounts that interest you! Follow businesses that you frequent to keep up with their sales, specials, coupons and new products. Follow journals that publish updates on your industry. You still have the power to pick and choose what you click on, so try not to get overwhelmed. If you feel like your social media is “too social” and not helping you grow in intellect, “clean house”, and delete those accounts (including friends) that aren’t maximizing your social media experience.
With a search bar and few clicks, or simply posting a question, you can get answers almost immediately about anything you want to know on social media. I regularly use my accounts for help and advice on everything from learning what works best to remove ink from jeans to which size picture would look best above my fireplace. Having access to reviews for every type of business imaginable is life-saving! Social media has helped me find the cheapest gas, pick a great restaurant for my husband’s birthday, find a reliable babysitter down the street and avoid a certain route because of an accident. Social media is invaluable!
Social media allows you to build your own brand. Personal branding is now a buzz-word in the internet community. It is basically selling yourself. The way you choose to present yourself paints a picture of what type of person you are, and what you stand for. Your personal brand is build through the posts you write, the articles you share, the comments you make, the photos and videos you include, and the people and groups you are connected with. Even the posts you “like” contribute to your personal brand. When mama said to be careful what you put on the internet, this is what she was talking about! I say, don’t be afraid of it, use it to your benefit! We all continuously sell ourselves, even when we don’t realize it, and we always have. Your personal brand is very important in today’s digital society, and you can use it to your advantage by being thoughtful about what we post and when we interact. Hiring managers and college counselors have access to your social media, so be cognizant of everything you choose to share.