Why I Love Social Media

Almost every day we read (or hear) about people either A) getting in trouble on social media, B) explaining why social media is to blame for their troubles, or C) sharing why social media is inherently evil. The media (and our society) promotes the notion that social media is a bad place where people shout (see: type) mean things to others (and death threats).

Our bad social media experiences mimic many of the first dates we had when we were younger. Awful. Dreadful. Sometimes we never want to have repeat experiences.

Most of us (see: all of us) have experienced the dark side of social media. Not everything online is sunshine and puppy dogs. But what you don’t read (enough about) are the great social media experiences many of us enjoy on a daily basis. Yes, I love social media. Yes, my job requires a specific social media skill set (at least I think so). Yes, I may do spend too much time on social media.

Face it: Internet trolls are never going away. They’ll always be lurking in their mom’s basements and eating Hot Pockets. In addition, there have always been dangers on the Internet. I’m not going to lie; I’m overly protective of what my 7-year-old daughter consumes online. That’s my parental right, but I’m not going to teach her that social media is some awful place that she shouldn’t traverse. Instead, I’m going to teach how to use it properly.

So why do some many tend to admonish us for using social media networks? People fear what they don’t understand.

Social media has opened doors for not only me but for many others in the sports industry. Some of my best personal and professional friendships started on Twitter <insert gasping face emoji>. I’ve also been afforded the opportunity (like many others) to learn and share ideas with some of the greatest minds within our industry — multiple times throughout the day. That wasn’t possible 10–12 years ago before the advent of social media.

Thanks to social media and platforms such as LinkedIn, I’m able to do one of my favorite things — writing. Do I expect droves of people to read what I write? No. I write because I enjoy it and because I feel like I can offer value. Social media has also been an avenue for me to create a #SportsPR podcast (Available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher Radio and TuneIn) and connect with industry leaders. Real, meaningful and human connections.

I was able to co-author a college textbook on creating successful social media plans in sports BECAUSE of Twitter. One tweet to Clemson Professor Jimmy Sanderson led to a conversation then to a friendship then to a professional opportunity I didn’t think was possible. Now, we are on the cusp of a second book together (with Dr. Karen Freberg of Louisville). Speaking of Karen…

Thanks to Karen (whom I met through Twitter), I was able to land teaching opportunities at West Virginia University (online) and Kennesaw State University (on campus). Social media is a powerful tool. Just don’t be a tool when you use it.

We have the opportunity to change the world through social media — whether it’s a personal cause or a paradigm shift within your respective industry. Why not harness that into social good?

I’ve been the target of real-life and online hate and bullying, but I’ve chosen to rise above it. Dogs don’t bark at parked cars.

Bottom line: social media isn’t going to change. There will always be awful and unhappy people looking to spread hate online, but why should we focus only on that?

We can change how people view social media. The opportunities are endless if we want them to be.

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Chris Yandle is the Assistant AD for Communications & Public Relations at Georgia Tech and an Adjunct Instructor in Public Relations at Kennesaw State. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisYandle.