Oh I know what you’re thinking. Social media is the devil. Before social media became a thing we were all happier, healthier and more contented. There was no evil in the world and we were all going to live happily ever after.
Let’s all just take a moment to remember that imaginary time shall we?
Social media is nothing but an extension of the human relationships that have existed since the dawn of time. Human interactions are by nature messy and complex and the ever-evolving landscape of social media reflects our insatiable quest to find new ways of connecting with other people and keeping ourselves busy!
Whatever your passion or your problem, there is going to be a network of people that get you. Whether it’s an addiction to the little appreciated art of macramé, the challenges of living 4000 kilometres from your nearest neighbor or an obsession with obscure TV stars of 1989 – there is a like minded group of people out there happy to discuss the topic, offer ideas and listen.
If like me you have family and friends living everywhere from Norway to Tasmania, social media allows an immediacy of connection and sharing that far exceeds anything sea mail ever offered to the world. An update on Facebook of a day at the beach with your children for the grandparentals, Skype conversations with your BFFs in a different country or an Instagram account of your latest culinary masterpieces – all provide an immediate point of contact.
Pretty much any social media platform you can name allows you to learn stuff. Whether it’s catching up on the news, maths education via Team Umizoomi, an online course, checking whether the plural of potato ends with an ‘s’ or an ‘es’ we have no reason to remain ignorant. This kind of access to information is unparalleled, in short – quite brilliant and only goes wrong when you fail to use your common sense and take health advice from Jim Carrey over your medically trained GP.
The professional kind. As any freelancer or home based business can tell you, networking is key to business success. And not all of it needs to be done face to face over a cheap glass of warm wine at an event. Sites like LinkedIn allow you to present yourself professionally, engage with people on topics and issues that interest you, share your expertise, tout for clients and employees and keep abreast of industry and technology innovations which impact you and your business. In your PJs. What’s not to love?
I know people call it slacktivism and the like, but the reality is starkly different. Online petitioning, connecting with thought leaders, badgering your politicians, applying a rainbow filter to your profile picture. All of these in isolation impact and collectively, they can, and do, engender change. I absolutely agree that it goes hand in hand with other forms of protest but thankfully, with social media, we have more options than Emily Davison did of bringing attention to a cause. That’s right my friends – #socialgood!
Oh go on, who hasn’t asked Siri in recent weeks what zero divided by zero is or watched a snippet of a show, or in our house, sat with the three year old watching Taylor Swift “shake it off” over and over again. Television, music, movies, crosswords, Minecraft, Scrabble, you name it – there is entertainment on tap via your phone whenever you want it. In fact, if you get yourselves sorted, you can all stay home and just do Saturday nights via ‘Periscope’ until the weather warms up.
Social media has enabled us to access effective relaxation opportunities that are far healthier than ‘a bex and a good lie down’. Whether you are one of the loudly righteous that turn off all social media access each night or have time outs each month, or like the rest of us using it to access brilliant apps like Headspace or the Smiling Mind, social media is an excellent stand in for our own personal masseuse.
No seriously. Exercising without social media these days doesn’t count. You are able to track the type of activity, the amount of it, the kind of terrain, set your playlist and track calories – all of which gives you some realistic data to compare with your friends so you can all train for the same event in different cities. Which is ace. Best of all, if you prefer to go for a long walk with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company you can slip that phone into your bum bag in case of emergencies like a sprained ankle in a national park or an unexpected sighting of Hugh Jackman on Bondi beach.
We all have those days when we are feeling a bit low and want some inspiration. Whether it’s what to wear for the day, what to eat, somebody doing some kind of social good, the right quote, a kick up the bum for a looming deadline or what to buy the friend that has everything, social media provides you with the inspiration quicker than you can say ‘Champagne Cartel out loud’.
Let’s not forget the time honoured skill of procrastination. There are days when the trusty dependables such as housecleaning, mowing the yard or matching socks are all completed but you absolutely do not want to be doing the thing you need to be doing. A quick look at the news, followed by clicking on a link about a celebrity going for a walk, followed by a link to the shorts they are wearing, distracted by an article on Colin Firth’s new movie, a detour to IMDB to find out who the actor in the background, a quick visit to see what nationality the Rock is, and a video of some old people dancing to Uptown Funk should definitely see you through to the ‘Oh Shit’, I’ve got ten minutes to finish/pick up the kids/fit in a two hour run.
Alison Hallworth is a small business owner, writer, blogger and human. She is also an admirer of wordsmiths, quirky thinking, equality, chutzpah and kindness. Actively opposed to apathy. She blogs at www.talkingfrankly.net and runs a social media consultancy via www.elverson.com.au