The Pros and Cons of Social Media

I got Facebook my first semester of college. This was 2006 and, like everyone else, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. It was like a virtual yearbook, only you didn’t have to wait all year to look through it! I loved seeing everyone’s pictures, posting back and forth with my high school friends who were scattered across the U.S., and being surprised by that glorious friend request notification. Nothing could make my day like knowing somebody wanted to be my friend!

Thirteen years later, I am not nearly as enchanted. Though Facebook and other social media certainly have their benefits, I think we’ve all come to realize that there are many downsides, too. I often wonder if the pros outweigh the cons, and sometimes that answer definitely seems to be “no.” Other times I don’t know what I would do without social media and its conveniences. As someone who went to college out-of-state, I wouldn’t stay in touch with half the people I do if not for social media! One thing’s for sure: the world is not the same as it was 13 years ago.

Here are my thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of social media:

PROS

  1. Keeping in touch. It’s easy to keep up with friends both near and far when Facebook and Instagram keep you updated.
  2. Staying in the know. You can instantly read the latest news, find out about upcoming events, and see when your favorite band releases a new song.
  3. Spreading information quickly. If you lose your dog or you need to borrow some obscure item ASAP, social media often proves to be a very helpful tool.
  4. Learning about others. Whether you’re hiring an employee, vetting a date, or just getting to know someone better, you can learn more about them on social media than almost anywhere else – where they work, what they like, where they live, who they’re friends with, and how they spend their time.
  5. Community. You can make new connections through the friends you already have, and you can feel closer to current acquaintances when you discover your commonalities.
  6. Soliciting prayer. I’ve seen countless prayer requests posted on social media, followed by a string of “Praying! 🙏🏼” comments. What better way to get people praying for you when you need it?
  7. Encouragement & motivation. There are a lot of positive posts out there. Sometimes you log into social media and see just the message your heart needs.
  8. Exposure & success. Social media is good for businesses of all sizes. If you have an organization to promote, you can reach huge audiences for very little money or even for free.
  9. Entertainment. All those videos of cute kids and funny pranks get so many views for a reason!
  10. Keeping track of everyone’s milestones. Facebook remembers when all 347 of your friends are celebrating a birthday so you don’t have to.

CONS

  1. Addiction. You get constant notifications and there’s always something new to see. With so much information at your fingertips 24-7, it can be hard to set limits and avoid spending a significant amount of time scrolling every day. Even when you don’t think you’re on social media all that much, research (and the oh-so-convicting screen time report) says otherwise.
  2. Comparison. Every day you see carefully-posed photos of people in the best possible lighting, wearing their best outfits and putting their best face forward. (These are often Photoshopped, for the record, even when it’s not obvious.) And you can’t forget the witty captions! When you see everyone’s highlight reels, it’s hard not to compare and wonder why everyone else seems to have a much better life than you do. And at the same time, those people are thinking the same thing about YOUR life, too! The grass is always greener, and all the comparison gives way to insecurity, discontentment, and…
  3. Depression. You can start feeling down about your own life when you see how much fun everyone else is having and how good they look. Studies say this is increasingly problematic, especially among youth.
  4. Constant accessibility. Oh my goodness, sometimes you just want to be left alone! Many platforms show other users when you’re online, people expect almost instant responses, and it gets exhausting. The endless notifications can feel like a group text that never ends.
  5. Visibility. Some people like the spotlight, but if you prefer to stay in the background, you may feel like you’re on a stage at times. Even when your settings are “private,” everything’s still pretty public.
  6. Time investment. Social media takes a lot of time! Statistically, most of us spend hours a day on the various platforms, and it makes me wonder what everybody did with that extra time 15 years ago…
  7. Rejection. Realizing that you weren’t invited to the party, that your friend request was denied, or that someone unfriended you is never fun.
  8. Division. Arguments on social media can get intense, even about pretty minor things.
  9. Permanency & regret. Once it’s out there, it’s out there! You can remove your post, but anyone could’ve already screenshotted it and oftentimes bots have already saved it.
  10. Security concerns. It seems like every day there’s a new article about how sites like Facebook are stealing our data and breaching privacy. Are the risks worth it?

I could add several more things to either list, and you probably could, too. What do you see as the biggest pros and cons of social media?

The Pros and Cons of Social Media | Millennials with Meaning

In light of this topic, I’ve decided to go on a Facebook break for a while. I won’t be posting to my Facebook page in the meantime, but you can still find me on Instagram, and the weekly blog posts will keep coming!

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