Dear 10-year-old self, let me tell you about social media

Image for post
Image for post

It may not seem like much right now but in a few years, social media will change your life in many ways. Every year, as more and more people begin to use Facebook, you may begin to feel excluded or pressured to spend time on things that you do not necessarily enjoy. People will spend hours on social media, sometimes even more than the time they share with friends. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You see, social media isn’t all bad. How could it be when so many people want to use it. In fact, I would say it’s neither bad or good. Social media is really just a medium for human interaction. As a result, it has the power to amplify your current state. If you are depressed and have difficulties with social interaction, social media could make you feel worse. Yet on the other hand, if you are positive and outgoing, social media will be a great and advantageous experience.

For the longest time, I’ve been reluctant to use social media. Not because I disliked the idea of it but because I did not see its return on investment. As you know, I’ve always enjoyed speaking to people in person. As a teenager, I was one of the few who did not integrate social media into their lives. There were times when I would miss out on some parties because I was not part of a group chat. However, I always thought if someone really wanted me to come he or she would go through the minimal effort of texting or asking me in person. For the most part, I was right and to be honest I don’t really regret not using social media for that particular reason. While my peers were carefully curating their profiles, I was focused on improving as a person. I still believe that if people put as much effort into improving themselves as they did to try and create the perfect profile, people would be happier and a lot more satisfied.

As I continued to develop, I realized I was missing out on many great opportunities. I think in many ways at the very beginning I was not ready to use social media. At that time, it was not entirely necessary so I was able to resist the peer pressure. Yet, as I became more confident in myself I began to view social media as an opportunity. When I was younger it wasn’t an opportunity because I wasn’t prepared to use social media to my advantage. At that stage, I would say I was more susceptible to misusing social media. In this sense, social media is comparable to drugs, alcohol, and sex. All of them can be enjoyable and beneficial, however, if they are misused they will end up hurting you. So in the end, my decisions may have been the right ones. Yet, if I were to give myself advice now, I would focus on pushing myself outside my comfort zone earlier on. If you always wait until you think it is safe, you will always miss your opportunity.

From the beginning, I always thought social media was a great tool for businesses. In fact, up to date, social media has completely changed the way business is performed around the world. Social media opens everyone to a global market. In the past, businesses could only sell to their own communities but now people can communicate with others all around the world who share common interests. Not only does social media have a further reach, but it also serves as a free form of promotion. Every post, comment, and share promotes a business’s brand. Customers can also engage in a direct dialogue with businesses. It wasn’t until later that I realized the same benefits and even more were applicable to individuals as well.

Image for post
Image for post

Today social media is a part of everyday life. As a result, there is a whole other world online. This online world is a global community where people compete for attention. You see attention is very important because that is where people spend their time and eventually money. This competition extends to individuals as well. In today’s day and age if you don’t have social media you are at a disadvantage. Employers want to know more about someone before they hire. If a potential employee does not have social media, they do not have a chance to sell their skills and accomplishments. As a social media user, you have access to a global community as well. Your relationships are not confined to your geographical location. There are many talented and interesting people whom you could never meet if it weren’t for platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Once you meet someone from another country you can continue to keep in touch with them through social media as well. Just like a business through every post and comment, you have the opportunity to promote yourself. Once again social media is simply a medium. Therefore, if you are negative and hostile in real life, you will be the same on social media if not worse. However, if your intention is to treat others with respect you will gain a lot from social media. In the present moment, social media can serve as an escape from the drudgery of everyday life. Entertainment and information are abundant on social media. You can travel vicariously to different places and discover unique communities. In terms of the future, social media can help you create the life you desire through networking and learning from others around the world. Additionally, social media can enhance your current relationships by bringing communities together.

Image for post
Image for post

As you can now see, social media has many benefits but it is potentially dangerous as well. Here are some ways you can get the most out of social media. First of all, you should limit your consumption. Too much of anything becomes a bad thing, especially when it takes time away from your everyday life. You can very easily spend your whole day on social media commenting, posting and consuming content. It is best to set aside time that is designated to social media use. Think of it as a block of time, similar to watching a movie. You should also turn off push notifications. This way your phone will not constantly entice you to check social media. Turning off push notifications allows you to be in control of your usage. It is important to interact online the same way you do in person. Many people fall into the trap of developing an online persona. They end up believing that their actions do not result in the same consequences as in their real life, as a result, they disrespect other users. It is important to view social media as a tool, a way to enhance your life. Do not fall into the trap of seeking validation online. While the social media landscape is competitive, do not obsess over comparing yourself to everyone else. Focus on providing quality and meaningful content and you will find the same in return.

At this point, I use social media to my benefit. By following these simple rules, I’m able to enhance my current lifestyle rather than take away from what I enjoy. I do believe social media can be a great thing. It all depends on how you use it. Once again social media is simply a medium. Some use it to spread good, while others spread negativity and sometimes even hate. As a user, you have the power to control your experience and the responsibility to respect the experience of others. Social media is a way of sharing with the world so do not waste this opportunity. In the words of my professor, “do things, tell people”. Because “if you don’t tell your story, someone else will”.

Written by

Actor, Musician and Creative Industries student at Ryerson University.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store