Some studies point to social media being a trigger for depression and anxiety, and increased use of social media is often associated with symptoms of mental illness.
While the endless swiping, scrolling, liking, commenting and messaging has become a daily habit often criticized for good reason, it shouldn’t go without saying social media has a lot of positive things to offer us when utilized correctly.
Here are a few that come to mind:
Social media often gives us a much-needed place to vent, which is important for several reasons. It’s cathartic, and it makes others with similar hardships more accessible to us to talk to and relate with. While it is not a replacement for therapy, it can be therapeutic, and it’s free for people who can’t afford a lot of mental health services. It can create a sense of solidarity, and it gives us a place to publicly talk about our mental health shamelessly with our friends and new acquaintances. And all of this is happening while we are still learning, as a society, that being open about our mental health and our feelings is something to be encouraged.
Social media helps us make new friends, and making new friends is always great! But on social media, we are not just making new friends in our towns – we’re making new connections with people all across the world, which can help foster a cosmopolitan and internationalist outlook on the world. While social media can be a divisive place at times, it also helps us find a lot of common ground with people far away. It can even help create unlikely friendships, which can help you grow as a person.
Social media can give a voice to the voiceless in a way that nothing else can. Amid national discussions about alleged Russian misuse of social media to cause discord in American political discourse, it’s often hard for some commentators to remember the social movements sparked and energized by social media. Almost every global struggle for democratic reforms in the past decade has grown organically and horizontally through social media.
We create communities of shared interest through social media. Groups about our favorite bands, groups for artists, our favorite animals/pets, etc. are great places to meet likeminded people and encourage each other's interests. Sometimes, you can find groups centered around shared hobbies. If you like gardening, for instance, joining a Facebook group with other avid gardeners may help you plan a more fertile plot. And unlike classes and workshops, it’s free! Who doesn't like that?
We can raise money for good causes and easily find others who care about the causes we care about. Facebook birthday fundraisers that go toward places like children’s hospitals, charities, humanitarian groups and human rights organizations immediately come to mind. Some of those organizations would probably be missing out on millions of much-needed dollars if it weren’t for social media fundraising.