Social media is a great tool that can help you thrive in your community life during college, but it can also be a huge distraction that wastes time and steals opportunities. Some people have chosen to eliminate social media from their life entirely (perhaps you’re one of them), deciding that they’re better off without it. All the power to them. For the majority who want to keep utilizing social media, we need wisdom in how we go about it. Let’s think for a minute about the benefits of social media
Social media has helped us connect and stay in touch with a variety of different people, whether long time friends or people we have just met. It has given us tools for sharing things we enjoy, like music, videos, and images. Arguably, it has enabled us to cultivate a greater taste and appreciation for the arts, through innovative platforms like Spotify, Vimeo, and most recently, Vero. Sites like these can be used to promote creative projects and business ventures, and can also broaden our understanding of foreign cultures without having to travel across the world.
Here are some practical ways of putting social media to good use:
- Organize social events through Facebook (community dinners, movie nights, or outreach projects — dream big!).
- Set up discussion forums among classmates on Reddit or Facebook to hash out important issues — fruitful conversations can be had online!
Check out MeetUp, which you can use to organize local hang-outs with
- people that share similar interests.
Self Control (Apple) or Cold Turkey (Windows) are apps that temporarily blacklist websites, helping you maintain control of your precious time.
These are just a few cool ways of utilizing social media. Sadly, perhaps unforeseen by their developers, these media platforms can also cause much harm. Social media can become injurious to mental health, isolating people and (ironically) cutting them off from real social connection. Here are some specific risks that “over-using” poses to our well-being:
- Social media is engineered to grab and to keep your attention — once you are sucked in it can waste valuable time and feel like bondage.
- The stimulus of social media actually rewires the reward mechanisms in your brain, leading to unhealthy highs and lows.
- Social media over-users can become detached from reality, less concerned about real life and the real people around them.
- Social media is a killer for comparison: browsing photos and moments from your friends’ lives can make you feel worse about your own life.
Also, cyber bullying, abuse, and hate speech are common on social media, especially in the political sphere. And research has shown that the power of social media played a role in swaying users’ votes with the spread of false information (e.g. the Cambridge Analytica scandal which Facebook is being sued for).
Hopefully these ideas will cause you to contemplate the place and purpose of social media in your life, helping you to better steward your time and talents. It’s up to you to take control. So start now and harness social media as a tool for good in all areas of your life, both now and in the long run.