You may or may not have heard of the new book that came out last week called “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”, by Jaron Lanier. Quite a few people seem to be talking about it, and I find this idea pretty interesting. I haven’t read the book (yet at least) so this isn’t any kind of review or analysis, but it got me thinking.
There are definitely some obvious negatives about social media that can’t be ignored, such as the trolling that takes place for one, or the dissatisfaction we can feel from comparing our own lives with others. But I do think there’s a whole lot of positives too, so here’s my ten arguments in defence of keeping your social media accounts.
1. A wonderful tool for staying in touch with friends
As we get older and move around, our friends become more and more scattered. I love social media for easily being able to see what my friends are up to, from Scotland to London to Southampton and even abroad! When I lived abroad myself, it was completely invaluable. And yes of course, sometimes there’s no substitute for a phone call, but being able to share in your friend’s holiday joy by flicking through their snaps, reading what they have to say about a current issue, or just regularly getting little prompts to make you think of them are all such lovely things.
2. Creation of new friendships
Whilst social media is brilliant for staying in touch with old friends, I’ve discovered in the last year that it can also be amazing for making new ones! There are several wonderful ladies on Instagram who I regularly interact with and am inspired by, who I’d never otherwise have come across. And this interaction doesn’t have to stop at online – at the start of the year I did a blogging e-course and have since met up a few times with some of the girls that also did the course – that’s all thanks to a Facebook group.
3. Easy organisation of events
Having online platforms that connect so many friends and acquaintances makes it so much easier to co-ordinate events. I think it’s especially good not just for individuals but for local groups and collectives to spread the word about what’s happening and bring people in communities together.
4. Tips and advice
Whether you’re wanting to find a good Italian restaurant, the best place to get your nails done locally, day out ideas for children, a new moisturiser that works or even just a new TV series to get stuck into, sometimes social media is a lot more useful than Google. You’ve got a ready-made pool of like-minded people to speak to, and getting a friend’s review of a product or service can be a lot more valuable than what the Internet throws up. When I went on Instagram stories recently to ask about Netflix series, I got so many good suggestions!
5. A cure for boredom
Whilst I think we can all appreciate that too much time spent on social media isn’t good for anyone, it’s pretty bloomin’ handy when you have to deal with the likes of Northern Rail. Waiting for delayed trains isn’t anyone’s favourite pastime, and being able to flick through people’s posts, photos and messages can be a life-saver for long waits and solo journeys.
6. Sparking creativity
I think that Instagram in particular – being such a visual platform – can offer huge inspiration for being creative with imagery and for improving our photography. This doesn’t just relate to us as content producers but content consumers too – seeing other people’s incredibly creative and beautifully shot images can be so uplifting, and get us thinking about life beyond our own four walls and all the wonderful things out there, whether it’s a view over a mountain range or simply a colourful bunch of flowers.
7. Getting us writing more
Of course creativity isn’t purely limited to visuals and I love that social media makes us write more, whether it’s a chatty caption with an Instagram post, a witty tweet or a passionate Facebook status. Discussions aren’t limited to chats in the pub but had from our bedsides and our sofas, sat on buses or in the bath. With texting and whatsapping as well, whether we have a job that requires us to write or not, we’re constantly using the written word and I think that can only be a good thing.
8. A way of spreading awareness and furthering social causes
We all saw with the Ice Bucket Challenge the incredible potential that social media can have to spread a message around the world like wildfire and raise both awareness and money for an important cause. Thanks to social media, charities are able to talk about and promote what they do without even spending any money, and can talk to an audience regularly, in a really accessible and easy, natural way. It’s also amazing for individuals who are fundraising and asking for sponsorship for example, to spread the message of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
9. Business growth
A lot of current businesses owe their success almost entirely to social media, and the platform it’s given them. As photographer and writer Sara Tasker (of Me and Orla) recounts, “In January 2013, on maternity leave from the NHS…I started a photo-a-day project on Instagram…Since then it has evolved to become the foundation for all my online work and a springboard for some of my biggest & wildest dreams.” Indeed, social media can be an amazing tool for building loyal customer bases, and in particular can be invaluable for small and independent businesses with little marketing budget. I know for me it’s been an amazing way to sell some of my artwork and learn more about creative business!
10. Community that can reduce loneliness
I know this last reason might sound a bit surprising, as social media is often criticised for increasing loneliness and feelings of isolation. But whilst I agree that online interaction isn’t any substitute for real-life interaction, I think it’s far better than no interaction at all. One thing that comes to mind in particular is Sarah Millican’s #joinin initiative on Twitter, where every Christmas Day she encourages people to use this hashtag and have conversation with each other so as not to feel so lonely. I think this is where social media and the Internet can really come into their own, connecting people from all around the world wherever they are at in life.
So there you have it, my defence of social media and ten reasons I think you should keep your accounts! Do you think the positives outweigh the negatives or are you considering coming off it? I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.