Social media: the good, the bad, the ugly

We live in an environment driven by social media, and sometimes it can be hard to see the positives. Photo by Hanna Middleton | The Signal

The world around us has slowly turned into a two-by-five screen that we can fit in our pocket. In 2020, there were 3.6 billion social media users and a projected number of 4.41 billion by 2025. 

While the majority of the world is online, it has become a toxic environment. 

Comparison is the thief of joy, and we do it day in and day out. On Instagram or Facebook, we see influencers and people around us living picture-perfect lives. On LinkedIn or Twitter, we see others’ achievements and thoughts. 

We begin to feel underqualified, boring and anything but picture perfect. However, we can’t live without it. 

“The association between social media and well-being is complex and reciprocal … higher use of social media predicts decreases in life satisfaction; and decreasing life satisfaction also predicts subsequent increases in social media use,” Our World in Data states. 

Social media had an almost two-decade-long journey to get where it is today. There is finally a conversation about ethical products, or a lack thereof. 

The Social Dilemma” on Netflix was a big turning point, revealing the effects of data collection, misinformation, and the way social media can manipulate our thoughts. 

[It] made me feel I should stay away from social media… but here I am tweeting about it on social media,” a Twitter user said after watching the docu-drama. 

How can we know how awful social media is yet continue to use it? 

For starters, we get to experience the pure intent of social media: connecting. Whether with family across the sea, friends from your hometown or your favorite singer on tour, it is a unique experience to be a part of. 

Even though it is through a screen, we are plugged into the world. 

Another significant advantage of social media is networking and career-building. There are 500,000 active influencers on Instagram. Marketers use influencers for brand deals, ads and promotion. Aside from the small group of influencers, almost all careers can be built from social media. 

There are 500 million users on LinkedIn, which is a great way to share your resume, refine your portfolio and network with professionals. Also, social media is the first impression to employers.

In the last year, social justice has risen to the center stage on social media. Without all of the resources made available through circulating posts, it would be difficult to feel engaged. 

Important movements like Black Lives Matter were widespread, with “where to buy Black” and “Black-owned” searches doubling in 2020. 

The world as we know it relies on social media. 

It is so easy to compare ourselves to past generations and reflect on the negatives of social media. It is important to remember that technological advancements are a part of the fabric of the human race. 

We just so happened to be the guinea pigs for social media, and we can’t live without it.