What Do You Get Out Of Social Media?

The Internet plays an important role in our everyday lives. We use it for work, for pleasure, for communication, and for collaboration. Dominating the Internet are social media giants that facilitate building online communities, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you are reading these words, chances are pretty good that you use at least one such website or app.

A lot of research goes in to designing the various social media platforms to encourage their use. As a result, we spend hours and hours scrolling though shared posts, tweets, pictures, and videos.

The negative aspects of these platforms can vary from obvious to obscure. Time spent using them is time not spent doing other things, which in theory could be more productive: reading, interacting directly with friends and neighbors, taking classes, engaging in a hobby. Interaction with short bits of information fractures our attention span and makes it harder to concentrate. Leaked personal information has been used to manipulate individuals without their knowledge or consent.

Social media can contribute positively as well. We use it to get a job, make romantic connections, keep up with friends or family that live far away, and to build communities that share specialized interests.

Evaluating these pros and cons is important for everyone to do. What are some of the other advantages and drawbacks of social media? Do the pros outweigh the cons?

It is easy to see why social media companies exist. People love to interact with each other, and the digital world is another place for that interaction. A successful social media app or platform can be very popular, lucrative, and influential. The companies want your attention, and once they have it they can use that collective attention for their own goals or purposes, like selling goods and services.

But what benefits do individuals get from using them? What do you get out of social media?

Related questions: How does your vocabulary influence how you think? Why do we feel the need to belong? How do you know who to trust? What makes a community? What is social media?

5 thoughts on “What Do You Get Out Of Social Media?”

  1. First and foremost, I use social media to form community. Whether it’s as weighty as connecting with those who struggle with mental illness (www.pronetohope.com) or as introspective as the topics brought up on this blog or as fun as asking favorite music questions on Facebook each Friday, I use social media to bring people together.

    Second, I use social media to connect with and make new friends. Some of my strongest relationships exist or began as social media connections.

    Third, I use social media to celebrate. Whether it’s wishing people Snazzy Birthdays or amplifying someone’s great work, several platforms are great ways to honor the people and their milestones and accomplishments.

    Fourth, I use social media to share issues that are important to me (e.g. politics, fighting for social justice, heirloom gardening). I’m sure I’ve lost some Facebook friends because of my more political posts. What can I say? I’m a transparent guy. And nothing changes without people demanding it so. Social media can be an effective way to channel our passions to motivate and mobilize for a better future.

    On that note, thanks to the friends who alerted me to and invited me to participate in protests today in order to keep all want children surrounded by their loving parents – regardless of immigration status. See you later today.

  2. Social media allows me to keep in touch with friends and family who I would otherwise have limited contact with. It also helps me be less shy in relative privacy, which carries over into my interactions with the public.

  3. It think it is first important to note that the internet is a tool, which can have a positive or negative impact depending on how it is used. I don’t think that it has any inherent overall positive or negative value itself.

    I think some of the greatest positive impacts of social media relate to the ability to create real connections and communities. Some people detach from the world using technology, but it can connect new people and re-unite old relationships. Dating sites can connect people who would never have met otherwise. Facebook can allow us to look on old friends and see how they are doing. Social media allows for political gatherings to protest at short notice – think Iran or Egypt. The danger is that social media becomes a substitute for real action, but it can and has worked in practical ways.

    The key danger of social media is the manner that it feeds our tribal instincts. I think the greatest danger to current democratic structures is the astonishing access to any information without the education or desire to determine the truth. Social media feeds political and social bubbles that shape as well as reflect reality. Humans love to have their views validated and will ignore the search for alternative views when they can. I can find someone else espousing just about any view I choose. Social media feeds this beast.

    1. Sorry I just realized after I posted that the question that was asked requires a far more personal response than the very general statement that I gave……

      So I will add…..that I use social media primarily as a way to get people together and meet. Particularly as I have have friend groups internationally. I rarely us it for news or information as I have a collection of sites that I tend to check on a regular basis.

      I am not a big social media consumer and never really look at photos, comment on birthdays or generally pay much attention to what people are doing on a regular basis.

  4. I only use social media to connect professionally, meaning to look for professional advancement.

    I’m not, generally speaking, a joiner, so things like this blog (which I don’t personally see as social media) are rare. I use the internet to gather information. It is a tool. It is not my friend.

    My preference is to either meet personally, speak on the phone, or email. One can only manage a finite number of real, meaningful relationships. Quality over quantity.

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