If you are on social media, you have inevitably seen the video by Essena O’Neill, in which she talks about quitting social media because she wants to live in the real world. While I have my doubts about her sincerity (I mean, she is still on social media, which is weird because quitting means you stop with it), I am not going to comment on the video. I am going to comment on the fact that everybody and their mother runs around with torches and hayforks, screaming that social media is horrible (usually on social media).
Yes, kids these days spend way too much time behind screens. My generation was probably the last one who had to play outside without our mobile phones. If you wanted to talk to somebody, you actually had to go and talk to them. My generation did get computer devices such as the Gameboy, but we weren’t allowed to use it for more than an hour. “GO OUTSIDE!” My parents would say. Which is a good thing. I think young children have no need for social media yet. They should go out and explore the world, climb in trees and come home with their clothes covered in mud.
When I was about 12, the internet became a thing, but we had to use a cable to be able to connect and that cost so much money that I could not be on the internet for longer than half an hour. My first phone was a Nokia 3310, which is still amazing. The battery lasted weeks, you could play football with it and it would not break. It was amazing. I only had the phone to call in emergency situations (and to play snake).
As I grew older, the internet became more of a thing and here we are now. Despite having known what it is like to not have social media available every second of the day, I don’t think I would want to go back there. Social media allows us to connect with people we would have not met otherwise. I have made friends from all over the world through social media, and I have actually met them in real life. My world would have been so much smaller if it weren’t for facebook and twitter. I have found people who have similar interests, and I am on this blog, talking about anything that interests me and I can share it with the whole world. The other day, one of my blogs went viral because of social media. It truly connects people.
Fans are closer to their favourite artists now. The relationship has changed. Artists can promote themselves but also connect with their audience in a way that wasn’t possible before. And even those who aren’t famous can share their work, their art, their ideas. They don’t have to be in the shadows any longer. You can go out now and show off what you stand for.
Of course there are downsides too. I think young people are not educated enough when it comes to the use of Social Media. It is not enough of an issue at schools because many schools do not know how it works. Sometimes teenagers will post something that they will regret later, because they haven’t been able to oversee the consequences. A lot of videos containing teens beating up someone have gone viral, which is bad news for them. The consequences of the video will follow them even when they have become adults, which is not fair. We all do very stupid things when we are thirteen.
And that is not only the case with teenagers. Adults also have to suffer from scrutiny after a picture of a video of them has gone viral. That wasn’t possible before, but now everybody can film everything. And sometimes that is negative. But I think the focus is too much on what goes wrong on social media than on what goes right. I mean, look at the story of dancing man, who danced at a concert but was made fun of because of his weight. He stopped dancing right away. It got posted online and people made fun of him yes, but also a lot of people supported him. He got his own party in LA. It would not have been possible without social media.
So yes, social media can have its downsides and yes we should be careful. Yes, not everything we see on Social Media is real, but it is, once again, all about balance. Don’t live your life solely on the internet. Go out, experience things and do not be afraid to share those experiences with others. Online or offline. Connect with people. Do what makes you happy.