How To Use Social Media For GOOD... To Benefit Both Others AND Yourself

Social media is saturated with negativity and hostility these days. Something that started off so pure and exciting has become toxic in the sense that people use it to anonymously hate on people they know nothing about and express pessimistic unasked for opinions. People also use social media to their own detriment, as they allow unrealistic body images to brainwash them into believing they must look a certain way and they also use it to put themselves down.
Don't get me wrong, social media is still great. When you want a laugh or need cheering up, Twitter is your place to go for memes. When you need to get something off your chest, Facebook is your friend. When you want some food or travel inspiration, Instagram has got your back. But, sometimes, it can feel as though the negatives outweigh the positives of social networking sites.
It seems our generation have become so accustomed to oversharing and opening up the Twitter app before even saying 'good morning' to our parents each day, that we've begun using it social media differently. We feel close with our online followers and our online lives seem to have become our real lives. Therefore, we censor ourselves less and we don't restrict ourselves from what we see and search for. We don't see an issue with posting a status that says "I've had an awful day, I want to kill myself" or Tweeting "I ate so much food today, I am so fat and ugly. I'll be alone forever." We actively search for images of models with slim bodies to make us feel bad about our own image and we stalk our favourite celebrities until we are completely infatuated with jealousy of how incredible their lives must be. All of these uses of social media were never what it was intended for.
Social media was also never intended to assist us in causing harm to others. By Tweeting 'controversial' things, which are actually hateful, and sending nasty comments about someones appearance to them because "It's online so they'll never see it or think anything of it anyway," we are abusing the power social media has blessed us with. Social media has allowed everyone a voice. It doesn't discriminate in the sense that, whether you're popular at school or have zero friends, whether you're part of a marginalised community or not, you can use the internet to express your beliefs and have people listen to you... pretty amazing, right? However, it's important we remember how pure social media used to be and ensure we aren't overstepping the mark when posting.

Social media has the potential to be one of the most positive things in our lives, so why don't we start using it as such, just like we did when we made our first Twitter, Instagram or Facebook account and everything was so new and exciting?

Here are some ways in which you can utilise social media for GOOD, in order to benefit, not just other people online, but also yourself and your own well-being.

1) Follow positive accounts
Only follow people online who you are certain will add value to your life. Don't follow people who spread negativity or frequently engage in toxic conversations. Don't follow people who post things which make you feel negatively about yourself or who post things which trigger a mental illness. Don't follow people who put you down or whose accounts you just aimlessly scroll through daily for the sake of something to do. Don't follow people who make you feel jealous or unworthy. Also, remember that it's perfectly acceptable to unfollow people whose social accounts aren't doing anything good for you. There is no shame in prioritising your own well-being and you needn't explain yourself. Only follow people who entertain you, make you happy, inspire you, motivate you and encourage you to be a better person.

2) Think before you post
Social media is great for saying things you know you shouldn't really be saying. We can hide behind a keyboard and say what we like without having to fear the ramifications. Once we've posted something hateful, we can log out and never meet the person or people we've posted about. But, remember, everyone who reads everything you post has emotions. They're human too. Think how you would feel if what you want to post was sent directly to you. Would it make you smile? If not, don't post it. Sometimes, thinking selfishly about things can be the only way you see them clearly, therefore, putting yourself in the shoes of the person on the receiving end of the negativity can help make you realise that what you want to put out into the world will cause harm. Take two seconds to think before pressing that 'post' button and consider whether it's going to hurt anyone unnecessarily. If so, don't post it! Problem solved.

3) Don't go searching for the bad stuff
We're all guilty of listening to sad songs when we feel sad to make ourselves feel even sadder. We do this online, too. When we feel bad about our bodies, we go searching for images of models to reassure us that the bad thoughts we're having are justified. When we feel as though our lives are going nowhere, we look at posts from 'successful' people, travelling the world, earning lots of money, as if to remind ourselves that we will never have that lifestyle. This is such a toxic coping mechanism but also a difficult one to break. As human beings, we're hard on ourselves and, often, it's as if we want to feel bad. We feel like we aren't worthy of happiness. We are though. Just because you feel something about yourself, that does not make it true. Stop searching for things that are going to distort the perception you have of yourself. Stop searching for things that are going to make you feel worthless. Besides, those people online who you're jealous of? They're just like you! They have bad days and they also only post what they want to share. People's online profiles are nothing more than a highlights reels.

4) Educate yourself
Social media is a library, it's a fountain of knowledge, it's the place to go if you want to know anything. Literally, anything. So, really utilise it. Every time you open a social media website, you have the opportunity to expand your knowledge of the world and you should never pass this up. If there's something you're unsure on, ask people questions, search for the facts, watch videos. Everything you could ever want or need to know is probably lurking in the depths of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Granted, it may take some digging, but you'll discover everything eventually. Social media has become so much more than something we use for fun. It's where we get our news and learn about our surroundings. Don't deprive yourself of this privilege. Follow the right accounts and look for the right things.

5) Ask questions
If you're unsure on something, never be afraid to ask questions. If people use terminology you don't understand, say things you haven't heard of before or have opinions you don't agree with, ask what they mean. That way, you can expand your knowledge and give them chance to explain themselves. Also, change the ways in which you express your own negative views. Instead of making assumptions and posting harsh statements, question why things are the way that they are. By asking questions online, you can better yourself and others, especially if you have a polite conversation with them instead of being aggressive. Ask "Why do you feel this way?" instead of going straight in with "You're wrong!" and it may help someone learn something.

6) Don't say anything online you wouldn't say offline
It can be easy to forget that saying something online can have repercussions in the same way that saying something offline can. Remember that the things you're posting will go to real people. Don't get confident behind your keyboard and hide behind the anonymity of a username. Be as real online as you would be to someone's face. Also, don't say negative things about yourself online that you wouldn't say in front of anyone else. It works both ways.

7) Be open to discovering new things
Every social media site contains undiscovered gems, just waiting for you to dig them up. Be open to the idea that everyone online can teach you something and that no one knows everything. Open your heart and mind and be willing to explore the world around you. Don't just stick to the same old things, make a conscious effort to follow different pages and talk to new people. The ability to learn and grow as a result of that learning is a such a valuable skill we have all been blessed with. Who knows what you may find out if you just give education a chance!

8) Save beautiful art
The internet is fit to burst with talented artists and their beautiful artwork. Save and share their creations to bring light into your followers' days and also to bring yourself peace and clarity. Also, take time to commend the artists to remind them that they're doing a really good job.

9) Chat to people and learn their stories
Make some friends! Chat to people whose paths wouldn't usually have crossed yours and learn their stories. Give people someone who will listen to them. This way, you can also learn about the people of our world, about their upbringings and aspirations for the future, as well as what obstacles they've had to overcome. The world is so diverse, no two people are the same. Get chatting to anyone and everyone, people from marginalised communities and people all across the globe.

10) Uplift others
If someone has posted a beautiful selfie, tell them they look beautiful. If someones achieved something great, congratulate them. If someone is having a hard time, comfort them. Be there for people online because, sometimes, receiving a sweet message from a stranger saying "Hey, I hope you're okay" can mean everything, even if there was little effort involved on your part. Don't use social media as a means to creating divisions and spreading negativity. The world is already negative enough. Spread a little bit of love every now and again.

11) Stop comparing yourself
Comparison is at the root of all evil. Stop comparing yourself to the people you follow online. It is unhealthy. No one's life is perfect, therefore, comparing your own life, which you know everything about, to the life of someone who has just shared a selfie from the Maldives but whom you, actually, know nothing about, is pointless. Be happy for the people doing great things online but also don't be afraid to cut them off if they're making you feel down. Take whatever steps you need to in order to feel good about yourself. Your life is just as valuable and rich as anyone else's.

12) Spread positivity 
Only share things which you know will add value to the world and to the lives of people reading them. Many horrible things happen in the world every day, so, go out of your way to brighten up the internet every so often. Share a funny story, tell a joke, post a hilarious picture or an inspirational quote. Spreading positivity needn't be a difficult task.

13) Stand up for what you believe in
If there's a cause you feel strongly about, don't allow yourself to be silenced. If there's injustice, do not stay neutral. Speak your mind, so long as you aren't being hateful, and use the voice you have been given by social media. Raise awareness of important causes and educate your fellow users on what they can do to help. Your social accounts are all you so share your beliefs.

The final way to use social media for good? Well, just don't use it at all. Social media is great in small doses but know your limits. Get out into the real world, live and do things with real people, that way your whole outlook on social media will change and you'll cherish it more when you do use it. Have a social media cleanse, a detox, every once in a while and you'll find it has great benefits. It'll prevent you from exposing yourself to unnecessary negativity and feeling down about your life.

How do you use social media for good? <3

Love, Emily :) xx

1 comment:

  1. Such a great post! Social media can be super helpful and all but at some point we have to refrain from it to avoid the negative stuff that it might entails.

    By the way, I wanted to add that, wow, girl, your blog rocks! I really love your opinion pieces on feminism and social topics. Keep it up! x