You’re really struggling one Monday morning when you hear the ding of an Instagram notification on your phone. It’s from a friend in another state sharing a Liz Climo comic about friendship. In it, a depressed sloth is lying on the ground, and a dinosaur suggests a walk to cheer him up. When the sloth says he can’t, the dinosaur proceeds to carry him on his back. As you look at them, you are reminded that you aren’t alone and someone is thinking of you.
We all know the flaws of social media, but it has upsides too—and they should be talked about more. Here are some examples of the positive effects of social media.
Enables people to stay in touch with friends all over the world
Friend circles shift and change as you get older and people move away for jobs, life partners, or even just a fresh start. Social media makes it easy to check in and stay up to date on what is happening in your friends’ lives even if you can’t see each other as often.
Fosters new friendships
It’s easier than ever before to find people who share the same hobby or outlook on life. The algorithms will bring them right to your feed, and then all you have to do is send them a message.
Offers an online community to isolated people
There are many reasons people may turn to social media for friendship. Maybe they live in an area where they can’t find like-minded people. Or perhaps they are dealing with health issues and need to be primarily at home. During COVID, large online communities were formed by those who had to be extra cautious of being out in the world due to health reasons. These virtual friendship circles were, and continue to be, a lifeline for many.
Teaches people how to clean
Dubbed “CleanTok,” this niche of TikTok contains before and after videos of deep cleanings, which are equal parts inspirational and instructional. If you are someone who learns by watching, this is your holy grail.
Expands awareness of other cultures and customs
Not everyone can afford to travel, and even if they can, some parts of the world are less accessible than others. But the magic of social media enables you to get a behind-the-scenes look at how people live around the globe. Travel virtually to places like Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, where a woman who shares a cabin with a dog named Grim explains midnight. You can learn a different language, discover new cuisine, and hear about local traditions.
Introduces people to artists and musicians
Social media has given everyone a platform to showcase their talents, regardless of their financial situation. This means artists and musicians, who often have a difficult journey to success, can now find people interested in purchasing their work or booking them for gigs. And viewers can immerse themselves in a world of art and music without the barriers of money or physical location.
Unites people fighting for good causes
There is power in numbers, and virtual organizing has made a profound impact on society. Whether for local community events or national ones, social media connects like-minded people who want to advocate for change. Just think about how many GoFundMes have been set up for people featured on Humans of New York and how life-altering that has been for recipients.
Disseminates news quickly to keep everyone informed
It’s easy to stay current on what is happening in the world with social media platforms, with sources ranging from news stations to private journalists to concerned citizens with a penchant for explaining what is happening in the news cycle. (Just be careful, as this means misinformation can spread just as fast.)
Creates a communication hub during natural disasters or emergencies
Ahead of Hurricane Ian in 2022, Twitter used a tool called Moments to create a center of information that people could count on to get announcements from emergency services. The platform is also useful in crowdsourcing on-the-ground information, like what local streets are flooded during a storm.
When used for good, social media can become a place that nurtures friendships, fuels creativity, and expands your knowledge and perspective of the world around you.