I just want to start by saying – I get it.
I get why social media can be harmful. I understand the implications of obsessing over instagram models, photoshopped ads, and mind-numbing trigger clicking articles. I can see how broken our society is by how many things we feel we need to fix before we post. And coming from a girl who was very influenced by all the going-ons of people I wanted to be on social media, I can relate to why hashtags like #thinspo are ridiculous and diminishing. Not to mention the more petty irritations like how everyone thinks a filter makes you a photographer.
I also want to say, that I don’t think that looking at the negative implications of the things we interact with in our world is bad either. Critical thinking is important; detrimental to our growth, understanding, and development to perspective. But one of the most negative things we can do is continue to focus on the negative after we have come to understand it intstead of seeking out it’s counterpart.
We give books a lot of praise. They’re an escape from the toxicity of our world, are generally inexpensive, and allow us to indulge in our imaginations and expand the worlds in our minds. I like to think of social media in a similar light.
For the most part people post things that make them happy or that they believe in. Looking good in a selfie, enjoying a drink in an atmosphere one is comfortable in, #tbt’s to vacations, experiences, and memories. We celebrate the birthdays of people we love, reach out to our communities when experiencing loss, and commemorate milestones. We speak up when things are wrong, start movements, and have access to all of the news and information we need at our fingertips. On free applications and websites – there is no cost to sharing our moments and mind.
Social media is our way to focus on the goodness of our own worlds and power of our voices. It is our way to look at our days, weeks, years and be able to not only remember, but share our experiences. Every picture posted is a time we felt joy, grateful, proud, sexy, excited. And that’s important. It’s important to remember that as much as an instagram model is a person, we’re only seeing the glamorous side of their life. And it’s okay if that’s the face we put up too.
It’s okay to want to give light to the goodness – to focus on the things that build us up and make us feel strong. It’s okay to share our journies, moments about the hard days, and moments of peace in our crowded lives.
Social media is how we connect with people. How we share what’s going on. And maybe your friend didn’t post a picture when she broke up with her boyfriend to let the world know about that milestone, but she did post a selfie of her later feeling confident and happy while conquering the world in her own way.
Losing sight of what exactly is being shared is easy. To conglomerate all of the photos, tweets, and status updates that put the things to congratulate in a box with the Victoria’s Secret ads and consumerism seems like it makes sense. But our individual experiences are not consumerism. They’re not fake, they’re not retouched. Our memories are being preserved in little cyberspace albums – and yeah, sure, it can be staged, but isn’t it wonderful that we’ve realized this power too? To alter our surroundings, to show the world the way we see it, to give people an idea of how we want to be seen? I think it leaves a lot less room for assumption.
Yes, there needs to be more focus on critical issues. There needs to be more justice, and awareness; less comparison and blindness. With that change, there needs to be a change in the way we view individuals – moreover the way they present themselves and their lives to the world.
Social media is not evil. I think our filter just needs some adjusting.
Written by Forest Greenwell