Ever since social media gained prominence among the American public, there has been no shortage of critics. Most conversations surrounding social media today only focus on the so-called “dangers” of allowing people to use social media in their day-to-day lives. I am not trying to claim that these dangers are fake or that people are overreacting to issues on social media, but I do believe the positive sides to social media are often overlooked.
Social media is one of the most influential parts of the internet boom and is used by over 70% of the U.S. population. This percentage has grown rapidly over the past two decades, with only 5% of adults having active social media accounts in 2005. Current polls suggest that 64% in the U.S. say social media has mostly negative effects, but with so much of the population using social media, there does not seem to be any reason to ignore its benefits in society.
On a business level, social media has taken over the modern marketing world. Especially with many universities, including the University of Mississippi, offering courses and specializations in social media, the younger generations are learning how to use social media to grow their businesses and market their products more effectively.
Promoting a brand through social media allows direct connection to customers, making companies feel more personal and easing customers’ ability to provide feedback. Social media careers are increasing exponentially and social media marketing skills have become one of the most sought after qualifications that recruiters look for. Not to mention that social media has become a way to find career opportunities, with 1 in 10 people finding their jobs through social media platforms. For a society constantly looking to increase job opportunities, we often overlook the advantages social media provides to people with fewer connections in any given industry.
On a more personal level, social media allows people to connect around the world and share their lives with family and friends. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have allowed millions of people to stay in touch with those around the world, with two-thirds of social media users saying that staying in touch with friends and family is one of the biggest reasons they use social media. It has also become a way to make new friends and get to know people from all over the world. I know that with the anonymity of the internet, building online relationships can have serious consequences. At the same time however, there are a great deal of success stories. Online dating has become the most popular way modern couples meet, with many marriages starting from social media messaging.
Social media has its downfalls, but with more and more people using it every day, it seems that it will not be going away anytime soon. Instead of continuously focusing on the negatives, we need to learn to embrace the benefits and work toward making social media a positive place for all people to enjoy the connections and friendships that the platforms were created for in the first place.
Briley Rakow is a sophomore integrated marketing and communications major from Lemont, IL.