Social Media is Good

Shoshie Hemley, Opinion editor

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Social media has been in my life since I got my first phone for Hanukkah at age eleven when my mother started working, leaving me to become more independent. My older sister, who was living in Wisconsin, downloaded Snapchat to my phone so we could stay in touch. The following year, my parents finally gave me permission to download Instagram. Since then, it’s played a significant role in my life. 

When I was in sixth grade, I moved from Iowa City to Singapore. I then moved back to Iowa City, then back to Singapore again (a different school, however), and then finally back to Iowa City. With each move, I was still able to stay in touch with my closest friends from each school. We stayed friends because of social media. We were able to direct message or simply keep up with each other’s lives through social media platforms like Instagram. Although I rarely talk to my sixth-grade best friend in Singapore, we still know a lot of what is happening in each other’s lives by following each other’s social media. Keeping in touch was the initial reason for my downloading of social media. I have sisters who live in different states, and it helped us see what’s happening in each other’s lives without having to make time for a daily call that our busy lives simply don’t allow. Being able to see milestones in my friends’ and family’s lives, regardless of distance, at the click of a few buttons is a blessing I wouldn’t have without social media. 

Social media has not only kept connections for me, but it has also created amazing connections and experiences. Without the power of Twitter, Greta Thunberg would have never seen the Iowa City school strikes, nor would she have reached out to come here. Social media has enhanced the power of activism, rebirthing a generation of young activists. The March For Our Lives movement and the Fridays For the Future wouldn’t have been so successful without the power of social media. For me, as an activist, so much of my message is spread through Instagram stories. People show up to walkouts and other forms of protests because of the spread of screenshots on social media. The renaissance of youth activism would not be possible without the connections and word of mouth that is accessible through social media. 

But social media isn’t simply a necessity for practical matters. Social media can be a fun way of expressing yourself. Taking pictures, organizing your feed, making videos—all are forms of art. While many criticize the culture of influencers and content creators, it’s a passion for many, and many people enjoy consuming that content. Regardless of if you have thousands of followers or just a few hundred, being able to express yourself to a guaranteed platform of people can be a creative outlet. Just because it’s social media doesn’t mean it has to be taken less seriously. Expressing yourself on social media can be very similar to graphic design, video editing, or photography in professional careers. Social media can be a way for many to share their creations and their art. 

While there are inevitable downsides of social media, we’re never getting rid of it. It came out of nowhere, and it’s here to stay. As long as users can educate themselves on how to use social media safely and be smart, it can be an amazing platform for so many. We live in a modern digital age, and if you don’t catch up, you’ll get left behind. If social media were bad, it wouldn’t be so prevalent today. So while there are downsides—as there are downsides to any technological advancement—social media can create meaningful connections and creative outlets that are far too valuable to give up.