Life

Social Media: A Discussion

Hello Everyone!

I know I missed a post last week, which is because I like everyone else have been struggling with all the new measures put in place against the virus.

This week I wanted to talk about Social Media.

There has been quite a lot of talk about it lately because people are signing off to avoid news about the virus, which I get and I actually did do for a few days as well because I was sick to death of seeing the words ‘Social  Distancing’.

What I wanted to do today though is to start a discussion about Social Media and whether it really is as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

I’m 17, so I’m firmly in the Gen Z category and have grown up with social media and technology just as much as the next person, but unlike a lot of people, I have a very positive relationship with my social media and online presence. There is a lot of talk about ‘social media vs reality’ and whether social media is the cause of our generation’s mental issues. I can say without a doubt that it isn’t because while I may not be a professional I am part of this generation and everyone I’ve talked to, including my own experiences puts the root of the issue down to schools and society as a whole.

Today I want to talk about my experiences with social media, how it has been really nothing but a positive aspect of my life and my belief that people who find it to be a negative place are using it wrong.

My Experiences

My experiences with social media have never been anything but positive. I started out on Tumblr and Pinterest when I was 11/12 and threw myself into the fandom culture. I was and still am an avid reader and found so many people I could talk to about my favourite books. I was lonely and sad and having access to a whole online community of people who loved the same things as me probably saved my life.

Over the next few years I moved away from Tumblr and started my Bookstagram. I had a whole Instagram page dedicated to posting pictures of books and I was welcomed into the community with open arms. It is a community I’m still a part of to this day. These days I also have a photography account: @thephotographydragon to showcase my work and get myself out there in the photography community, which is clearly worked since several opportunities have already come of it.

An amazing example of the positive influences social media can have is that I never would have met my good friend Charlie without it. We met through a meet up that was held by a YouTuber we both loved, which would never have been possible without social media.

Social media has brought me so many positive things over the years including a community, a place to feel safe, friends (both real and online), a place to share my work and it is an unlimited source of inspiration that I turn to on a daily basis to fuel my creative projects. Even this blog your reading is technically a form of social media, which I bet you found through one of my social platforms.

In short, my experience with social media has been nothing but positive. Yes I get the occasional DM from someone creepy, so I block them and move on and in recent weeks all the talk about the virus got a bit too much, so I signed off for a couple of days. Truthfully that had nothing to do with it having a negative impact on me though. I was just really sick of it being all I was seeing. I use social media to find inspiration and motivation, but since the only thing anyone was talking about was the virus, I couldn’t find any new content to inspire me, so I signed off for a few days until people had exhausted the topic and gone back to their usual content.

I know a lot of people don’t share my positive experience though, so let’s talk about some of the common issues people have with social media.

Social Media vs Reality

One of the most common issues I see talked about is the whole ‘Social Media vs Reality’ Discussion. This seems to mostly apply to Instagram, since it is a very visual platform that allows you to easily cater your feed, but I suppose it can spill over into other platforms as well.

I’ll admit that this is a problem to an extent because I think everyone (myself included) likes their feed to look pretty. We edit our photos, stick with a certain filter or colour scheme and of course only post the interesting things. We don’t post about taking out the rubbish, having a shower or filling the car with petrol because that isn’t interesting and certainly doesn’t make a pretty picture. We do post about our holidays, events, the days we like our outfits and our pets because those are the things we’re proud of. Everyone loved holidays, so we’re naturally excited to share our experience, but it obviously isn’t most peoples (or anyone’s really) everyday experience. Even celebrities have to do the dishes.

What I’m trying to say is that social media is a highlight reel. I don’t think anyone is really in the dark about that, which is fine because do you really want to follow someone who posts photos every time they’re doing everyday mundane tasks? Probably not! The problem only arises when you compare someone’s highlight reel to your own outtakes.

Comparing myself in this way has never been an issue for me because it has always seemed like common sense to me. Of course people cater their feed because I do too, so there’s no need to compare. I follow them because I like their content/their personality and find some inspiration in it and that’s the end of it.

More and more people are starting to post their photos with the ‘reality’ version as well, which I think is good for those people that need a reminder that people don’t wake up with a full face of make-up and Photoshop exists, but at the end of the day I still think people should wake-up and use their common sense a bit more.

I actually did a whole project on the idea of ‘Social Media vs Reality’ for a college unit where I used photos from my trip to Paris last year and added supporting text to show how the snapshot doesn’t represent everything, which I’ll leave below for you to look at.

User Error

With all of that in mind, it is my belief that negative social media experiences happen as a result of user error. I understand that sometimes bigger things happen to some people like leaked nudes and abuse; however, that is because of the person behind those acts and not the social media site itself.

If someone you’re following is making you feel insecure, then just unfollow them. Cater your feed, so that it is full of people who inspire and motivate you and eventually your explore page will start to mimic it too. You have an awful lot of control over what you do and don’t see on social media. You can mute people, block people, hide posts that upset you, which will help the algorithm learn and even block specific hashtags. You have a lot more control over what you see than I think most people realise, so use those filters to your advantage and then hopefully your social media experience will be a lot more positive.

Some site may be more toxic to people than others. For example, I don’t go on Twitter that much because I don’t have the time to read through people’s tweets ranting about this that and the other, but you might enjoy that. It is all up to personal preference, which your social media algorithm will learn over time.

 

Those are my experiences and views on social media. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me and claim that some aspects of social media are out of their control, but they really aren’t. All forms of social media are incredibly customisable. The explore pages are always a bit more tricky and take some time to alter, but eventually if you only consume content that is inspiring and positive, it will only recommend that content.

I think the dangers of demonising social media like so many of our parent’s generation seem to are far worse than the negatives of using the platforms in the first place. Social media can be a source of unlimited inspiration and a way to connect with like-minded people from around the globe if you only use it right. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone online is a weirdo.

Of course you still have to be safe when using social media and don’t go giving out your address to just anyone, but that’s just common sense really.

How do you feel about social media? Has your experience with it been positive or negative? Let me know down below or come and chat to me over on my Instagram: @thephotographydragon

Goodbye for now!

Over and Out

 

(2) Comments

  1. Charlie says:

    So many fantastic points made here Sam! I don’t think I agree with everything you said… As a near-20 year old I reflect a lot on my early teens (12-16) and how much social media did damage to my mental health as well as bullying that occurred online for me… I love social media for all the reasons you listed (I wrote a piece on this a month or so ago) but there are a lot of problems with it too that can’t be solved by one person’s personal change.

    Unfortunately, social media will always be around and as technology advances it is becoming less and less avoidable. It’s how people use it which matters – and parents and schools alike should be better educating their teens on the effects socially and psychologically of social media! Xx

    1. Samantha Drage says:

      I totally get what your saying! I did mention that there are sometimes bigger things out of your control (like bullying), which isn’t within our power to stop and of course that has nothing to do with you as an individual. Sometimes people are just mean 🙁

      I meant it to come across as if you’re following people that are making you feel bad then just… don’t.

      Social media is unavoidable these days, but I don’t think it’s social media itself that is inherently bad. It is the bad people on it that choose to be mean/spread hate.

      I totally get what you mean about it being used for bullying though, but I wasn’t talking about that part of it, so sorry if it came across the wrong way. xx

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