Is social media really as bad as we think?

Social media has become an integral part of society, with its number of worldwide users estimated to reach 3.02 billion monthly users by 2021 (according to Statista).

As you’ll probably know, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are three of the most influential social media platforms out there and also three of the most widely talked about when it comes to the subject of social media and its negative impact. There have been many articles written about the adverse effects that such social media platforms have on our mental health, for example, we see the lives of influencers who appear to live luxurious lifestyles that we aspire to have and think are unattainable.

One of the biggest arguments for social media is that what you see online is not real and is not an accurate representation of someone’s actual life, which of course, for the most part, is true. With features such as Snapchat filters, photo editing apps and so on, we can portray ourselves however we want to our followers. However, if you compare this to everyday life for a second, is it that much different than what we do to people we don’t know that well? When you meet a stranger, it’s likely that we don’t tell them how we are really feeling; we put on a front or ‘mask’ and only share with them what we want them to know. It could be argued that social media has just provided us with another way to do this but in a digital format that allows us to portray our lives in an elaborate way.

There is a lot of negative press that surrounds social media. Whilst this is important to acknowledge, it should be just as important to recognise the positive impact that social media has too. Platforms such as YouTube and Instagram have created opportunities for individuals to start businesses from their homes, share their talents with thousands of people worldwide and create jobs that didn’t even exist pre-social media.

Social media has allowed us to connect with people that we may have never got the chance to meet. It has provided us with a platform to voice our own opinions and create online communities of people who share similar interests. These platforms have also affected how many industries now operate and advertise, such as TV, Film, Retail and Music. The influence of social media shouldn’t be overlooked, as it still has the potential to go a lot further in the future.

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that social media is addictive and has been linked to having negative effects on our mental health. However, whether we like it or dislike it, social media has a huge presence in our society and this doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Taking this into consideration, we should be looking at ways in which we can work with social media rather than against it. This includes working to make the time we spend on social media time that is positive and effective, as well as teaching the younger generations to use the platforms in a safe and creative way.