Social media has become a fashionably controversial topic. Older generations and Banksy enthusiasts will agree that Facebook will cause the downfall of humankind; social media has reduced its users to trending topic-obsessed sheep and zombies who crave likes instead of brains. A phrase often thrown around in these types of arguments is “anti-social media”: are we so glued to our social platforms that we’re actually isolating ourselves?
The short answer is: yeah, totally, but that’s on you. Social media is so new that there aren’t a lot of norms established about it in terms of politeness. I owe my parents’ nagging at me not to text at the table for my basic iPhone manners, but many still see it as acceptable to scroll through Instagram in the middle of conversation. The stereotypical social media participant experiences every beautiful moment of their lives from behind a screen: every sunset, concert, and dog encounter must be recorded for Snapchat’s My Story feature. While this does happen, it’s more of a stereotype than anything. Once one becomes aware of their intrusive social media habits, they learn the difference between sharing a moment and living it. It’s possible to do both: take the nice picture, then put the phone away. When someone uses social media to the point where it becomes anti-social, it’s due to their own rudeness, not the platform itself.
With that being said, I think the social benefits of channels like Facebook and Twitter far outweigh the anti-social negatives. Social media is the best way to market a movement, idea, or product right now. It allows anyone to customize their brand, from the bored teen to the huge corporation. Most importantly, I’ve taken note of social media’s ability to bring together communities. Being at a party full of people you don’t really know sounds terrifying, but if you’re familiar with some of the guests on social media, you have something to talk about. In the bigger picture, social platforms make people more aware of current events, pop culture, and which Internet memes to reference in conversation. The ability to connect with others, and to stay connected with those you’re already close to, ensures that social media is, in fact, social.
Social media’s progression is gaining far more headway than people’s cynicism towards it. The “anti-social media” argument is outdated; as long as we teach younger generations to Instagram after the sunset/hike/concert/outing, these channels should be considered powerful tools—not the start of an apocalypse.