Don’t worry, I was there a few minutes ago scrolling through Instagram, too. It’s an ever-present force in Gen-Z lives. Omnipresent statistics and documentaries, like Netflix’s “Social Dilemma”, show experts attempting to fight the overwhelming tide of comparison culture and seek to inform viewers of the underlying issues of media consumption. Despite this influx of negative press, social media is not inherently bad, so long as we utilize it wisely.
It is true that social media has had and can have a negative impact. I do not want to discount the stories of people who have felt insecure, trampled on or deeply hurt by other users. On Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok and other platforms, cyberbullies, hackers and traffickers abound. As a result, the need for discretion in the content of our comments and posts has become a paramount priority. It is far too easy to get addicted to social media, and when we do so, we waste valuable time that could have been spent in community with actual people. Social media can often feel like a shallow competition to display the best body image or obtain the most followers, effectively wrecking resumes, reputations and relationships.
However, social media still brings about genuine good when the users take responsibility. Like any other form of technology, it can help the user — if used properly. Social media connects loved ones, speeds up the process of communication, and provides a platform to raise awareness about issues such as human trafficking and systemic racism. Sometimes, when encountering difficult, real-world problems, one can easily feel overwhelmed or at a loss as to how to help. Social media provides the general public with the necessary resources to support a cause they are passionate about. For those with valuable messages to share, they can share their story with a wider audience. There are real benefits to using social media with the right motivations and mindset.
While social media has its downsides, humans are also creative, beautiful, smart and important. So maybe the real problem isn’t social media, but how we use it, which is a comforting thought because it means that we can also be the solution. Social media is neither good nor bad, life-giving nor destructive; rather, it is amoral. We collectively make it bad or good, depending on how we present ourselves and how we treat others through these platforms. We can speak kindness into comment threads and cheer on causes that seek to make the world a better place, treating the apps on our phones as a tool, not an addiction. We must remember that no one is perfect, no matter how flawless their feed is, and we must give grace to each other and to ourselves. In these ways, social media can become a healthier and more constructive place, deserving of our time.
There are real consequences and real benefits to social media. The outcome varies widely, depending on the user’s priorities and level of maturity, but, thankfully, once we recognize and implement this truth, our lives will be better for it. Let’s set a new trend of treating our social media as a weighty responsibility and as a privilege filled with potential.
Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.