Viewpoint: Social Media as Valuable Tool

Yesterday I wrote a Viewpoint blog article that outlined some of my criticisms towards social media and technology in general. I suggested that social media and technology can control your life life if you’re unaware of its influence over you, mostly due to the presence of the sensation-seeking “monkey mind”. The path to enlightenment when using technology, as suggested by this article, was “contemplative computing”.

Today, I propose to readers that social media and technology can have benefits for individuals and are valuable tools for daily use. I can think of two concrete experiences that have increased the value I personally ascribe to these tools: first, I received a summer internship in my field of study this past summer because I saw a notice of the job opening on Twitter; and second, I am in my current happy relationship with my partner through conversations that we had and meetings we set up on Facebook.

Anecdotal reports and surveys floating around on the internet seem to indicate that these tools have provided the same benefits to other people. in this article ranks the various social media platforms for their ability to increase communication, brand exposure, and website traffic. For an individual looking for a job in this modern age, these benefits can be instrumental in their employment situation, broadening the reach of their personal message and awareness of their skill set.

Further, the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre suggests that social networking can provide the following benefits to people, especially young people (see the Benefits of Internet and Social Media):

  1. Accessing tool kits for becoming active citizens;
  2. Developing a unique voice;
  3. Practicing content creation, management, and distribution;
  4. Collaborating with others;
  5. Accessing resources for exploration and learning; and,
  6. Experiencing and thinking in ways that build resilience and enhance real-world skills.

Social media can, of course, have a multitude of impacts on our ability to learn in classrooms, stay productive at work, and keep our information private (see this article from Science Daily). However, if used properly and with a conscious awareness of these pitfalls, research has found that social media can (see Social Networking):

  • Enhance the empathy of individuals to their friends
  • Help introverted adolescents learn how to socialize
  • Provide tools for teaching and sharing information in compelling, interactive ways

Given that I am an introverted, shy person in real life, I firmly believe that social media has assisted me in the process of coming out of my shell and interacting with people more often and with greater confidence.

Of course, the decision to use social media and technology is a personal preference and frequently based on one’s life situation (e.g. job status, marital status, etc.). There can be no hard and fast rules for whether you should or should not use it as a tool. If anyone has any ideas or stories related to social media and/or technology, I’d love to hear about them! Tweet me, email me, send me a letter 🙂