I’m not going to knock social media for two reasons: (1) It’s here to STAY so you might as well learn to live with it (what choice do you have right?), and (2) social media has many possible benefits regardless of your attitude towards it.
The central facet of social media is on creating and maintaining relationships. Everything you do on any social media site, whether it’s content creation or following people on Twitter, is designed to foster intimate relationships with people. But like anything, social media has its positive aspects and its equally potent negative aspects.
Pro – Networking: Maybe you’re like a lot of people out there who feel ‘stuck’ in a job that doesn’t really resonate with their deepest passions or you know someone else who is. Networking on social media sites can help pull both of you out of what might appear to be a merciless quagmire and get you moving on a professional track that makes more sense.
Con – Scams/Identity Theft: Not sharing personal information on social networking sites is virtually impossible. Sure, you’re allowed to share pretty much what you want but even the slightest amount can leave you wide open to spam and scams of all kinds. The Orwellian world of 1984 is upon us.
Pro – Sharing Information/Finding Support: Anytime you’re involved in doing research or wanting to connect with like-minded people who share your interests, affiliations, or afflictions, you no longer have to schlep miles to your local library (assuming you live somewhere that actually has one) or sign-up for a support group . . . social media sites make it possible to share tons of information and receive/give support to one another.
Con – Emotional Backlash: Nothing can replace healthy face-to-face contact with other people, and social media runs counter to that fact. While it can certainly bring others together, it can also drive emotional wedges between us, prompting feelings of isolation, unwarranted comparisons (do you think everyone tells the truth about how ‘supposedly’ great their lives are?), and inaccurate levels of true intimacy. Buyer beware.
Pro – Promotion/Organize: If you’re a painter, photographer, filmmaker, or artist of any kind, social media platforms are perfect places to showcase your talents or let others know about up-coming events like movie premiers or gallery openings. Last year when Egyptians rose up against their oppressive government, word got out to the rest of the world thanks in no small part to folks in Cairo tweeting about it. So if you’re looking for a quick way to organize the masses, social media is the best way to follow through.
Con – Addiction: As the maxim suggests: Too much of anything is a bad thing. Living a human life to its fullest doesn’t mean spending all your waking hours plugged in to electronic gadgets . . . unless you think of yourself as just that: a machine.
Being outdoors, laughing with friends (not in the ‘LOL’ sense either), exercising your creative impulses, volunteering in your community, raising a family . . . these all bring a richer sense of balance to this unique opportunity called Life. Don’t get me wrong, plugging in is fine. Just make sure you cultivate a certain degree of wisdom that knows when to ‘pull the plug’ on a regular basis.