Social media has, whether we like it or not, changed our lives. We are consumed by a digital pattern of news, events, photos, status updates, likes, follows, and constant communication with people we call our “friends.” The new technology world has made it easier than ever to meet people, stay in touch, and be up-to-date. At times, it feels like it’s disconnecting us, giving us a place to hide, and transforming us into things that we are not. But even through all the hate, negativity, and addiction that it brings, social media has taught me a great deal about one very real, and very human emotion. This is my story, of how social media taught me to love.
1. Privacy simply doesn’t exist in cyberspace. Everything we write, and every action we make online, is there, stuck off in a digital medium, for good. Our generation used to be (and maybe still is) naïve to this. We take things at face value, and eat up the promises our accounts make when we click “delete.” But the truth of it all is that the most rare and special things are those said and done offline. Social media taught me that privacy is valuable, and that there are some things the world doesn’t need to know. It taught me to enjoy moments of intimacy and be comfortable keeping the memories all to myself.
2. Girls will have boys who are friends and boys will have girls who are friends. It’s a fact of nature, but for some reason, many of us doubt this very fact. I don’t have accounts set up consisting of merely one gender. In fact, nobody does. Males and females are able to network, have open conversations, and be friends without it being stereotyped as anything untrustworthy. Relationships should be the same way.
3. Communication is key. Learning how to communicate using nothing but text characters and emojis can be complicated, but it also teaches you how to read people. We’ve developed an unintentional set of laws for how to properly communicate over social media, and it’s actually surprisingly relevant for real life too. When we’re annoyed, we’re short. Angry, we’re quick moving and talk too fast. When we’re sad, we often have little to say, and when we’re happy, oh you’ll know it. Learning how to communicate actively, understand modern social cues and listen openly is something I learned from the hours I’ve spent on Facebook chat, texting, and Twitter.
4. A little poke now and then is totally cool, but aggressive touching…now that’s a problem. Everyone knows what it’s like to have that one friend consistently egg you on with a an excessive 400 poke, poke-war. One or two pokes, it’s cute, but there are always limits. This goes for real life, too. It can be great to have physical contact and be close to someone, but if they can’t respect my personal limits and they’re persistently pressuring me? Buh-bye.
5. People come and go, just like add and delete. Sometimes, we might not even notice that they’ve left, and other times, we might find people in unexpected places. Imagine finding that long lost friend from elementary school through mutual friends, it’s a great feeling. Similar to the nostalgia you might feel when you bump into someone you haven’t seen in years at a coffee shop. Social media is a community of individuals spanning from all around the world, summed up into a tiny screen. It’s taught me to purge my friends list of toxic individuals now and then, and to accept blessings in disguise; because the world’s not actually as big as I think it is.
6. Social media has taught me a great deal about myself. My self-esteem goes up and down every day with my social media accounts. But there’s one hidden lesson that the media has seemingly taught me.
“It’s called a like for a reason, there are much more important things to love.”
It’s time not to worry about how many people praise my photos, and embrace how many followers I get today. Be the leader of my life, not a follower in the crowd. Love boldly, but value privacy. Make connections, trust until proven otherwise, and communicate. I must have respect for those around me, and beware of personal limits. Let people go, and invite new friends warmly. Love myself first, because there are much more important things in life than how many likes I get.
Featured image via We Heart It.