“I hate social media.”

“Social media encourages creativity and entrepreneurship.”

“People are so fake on their social media.”

“I think there can be a middle ground. It’s all about balance.”

Statements similar to these can’t be missed as social media remains a prevalent part of our society with over 2.65 billion users worldwide. Currently, there are many private and public discussions on whether or not social media is a tool in our society or a hindrance.

Although social media is only four decades old, the usage of smartphone devices perpetuates the power of social media making it more accessible than ever. It has now become an unavoidable industry in our day to day lives, presenting itself with many pros and cons, all validated by people’s experiences. What are the advantages of social media? How about the disadvantages? Are we better off with or without it, and why?

Social media can be a powerful tool for those to express themselves in many different ways. Apps like LinkedIn allows for people to professionally brand themselves while Instagram allows for creativity. Having a platform that thrives on opinions and an abundance of information while being mentally incentivized is a good thing. It can also alter people’s perspectives or allow them to keep an open mind of what is beyond their knowledge.

Social media can also be an outlet for those to pursue passions that people from generations before didn’t have access to. People can decide unconventional lifestyles for themselves and challenge conventional beliefs. “It’s important that we use social media to stand up for what’s right and to fight for those who aren’t fought for. We live in a generation where our voices are loud and the messages are louder,” said a student at FIT. Social media, in this regard, is a vital tool for many, even the voiceless.

“We live in a generation where our voices are loud and the messages are louder.”

On the other hand, it’s argued that too much of anything is not a good thing. Social media can be a place where opinions are shared but what about bad opinions or stress-inducing stories. Researchers stated that “one negative post of a person will influencer 1.3 negative posts by friends, leading to a chain of feeds that might result in stress and negative moods,” according to Deccan Herald. It’s important to address the need for balance. If everyone is screaming and yelling their opinion, what should people’s attention focus on? Which social issue? If the answer is all, that simply wouldn’t be reasonable.

People’s subconscious is also rarely within their control which results in a lot of unknown negative impacts, from envious behaviors to what some people call “Facebook Addiction Disorder.” Constantly trying to use the app or even subconsciously press the app icon on their free time is an indicator that there are many flaws in how we regulate the usage of social media.

For many young people who are underdeveloped, this can harness poor mental habits in a media platform full of unthoughtful opinions and never-ending comparisons. This can explain the increase in stress, anxiety, and depression among the youth which ultimately reduces any performance in life. In this regard, social media is quite the hindrance.

Are we better off with or without it, and why?

Well, to get rid of social media all together is not a plausible idea nor can it even be entertained. It’s become many people’s livelihood and it has also turned many people’s lives around. So the answer is not as black and white as we’d think.

The answer lies in us.

We need to start to see social media a bit more objectively and learn to properly regulate our usage of it along with the ability to filter out things that are untrue, by fact-checking. Use it as a tool, whether it’s to get a job or to start your creative business, instead of using it as a distraction. If it’s giving you a lot of anxiety then give it a monthly detox! There are things that may be out of our control but our lives are still the choices that we make. And one of those choices is whether or not social media becomes a tool in our lives…or a hindrance.

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