Social media gets a lot of bad rep; cyberbulling, people losing jobs, unrealistic portrayal of other peoples’ lives, bad body image, the list goes on and on. There is any number of bad things that can be said about social media, and it's true that it causes a lot of problems for people's mental health. Everyone has an opinion, sometimes not always the nicest, and social media gives people a platform to share what they think. It also allows people to project their lives as perfect, when in fact they're far from it. How about though, instead of focusing on the negatives of social media, we talk about the positives for once? Personally I've found a lot of positives in social media, that I'd like to share so that others can find positives too.
Firstly, social media offers a way for people across the world to communicate. This means that long distance relationships can be maintained – and I'm not just talking about romantic relationships. Families separated by distances can keep in touch and up to date with just a few clicks on a webpage. Free calls on social media sites mean that the once hefty landline bills to keep in contact with relatives abroad now don't have to exist. It's revolutionised the way that we interact as we travel and keep in touch with those close to our hearts but far in distance.
Social media is also a place where people can find help and support. Groups and communities of people with similar issues, conditions, and interests can congregate together and offer each other support, share tips and talk about their similarities. Groups on Facebook where people with similar illnesses or interests can join together and talk through things. Communities on Twitter where people join in weekly to talk about a similar topic, offer each other tips and support. These things are fantastic and definitely not negative. I've never seen a negative chat, it's all positive. People are finding support and friendships online in these groups.
Instagram arguably gets the most hate of all social media, due to the way people Photoshop their images, paint their lives as perfect, and use bots to get followers. But there is an entire other side to the story, that can make Instagram seem like a much more positive place. Firstly, just look at the amount of cute animal accounts. Follow a few of these and you're guaranteed to smile every time you scroll through your feed.
Secondly, the bopo (body-positive) revolution is sweeping through Instagram, encouraging people to love themselves as they are. This goes completely against the fabricated images of celebrities that we see, and instead tells people to embrace every part of their body. There's weekly hashtags that support this, like #cellulitesaturday and #embracetheshake. These fight the ridiculous notion that everyone has to be perfect and instead encourages people to love themselves.
Social media can be a place full of negativity, or it can be a place full of positivity. It can be impossible to fully ignore the Photoshopped pictures that prey on low self esteem, the green eyed monster that shows its ugly head when you think others are doing so much better than you, the trolls, the people who have nothing nice to say. But by making a few small changes, you can make your social media experience much more enjoyable and a much friendlier place to spend your time online.