Kristina Matisic

In defence of Social

Image via Adam Katz Sinding/Le 2ieme

Image via Adam Katz Sinding/Le 2ieme

Have you seen the latest round of articles decrying tech neck? This is the 21st century affliction whereby spending too much time looking down at your phone and scrolling through your social media feeds supposedly leads to premature neck wrinkling.

As an avid reader, I’m up in arms.

My neck wrinkles are hard-earned, after decades spent devouring a book every week or two.  Not to mention all the newspapers and magazines I read. And while I have tried to suspend my reading material from the ceiling (not), it does make page-turning onerous.

Seriously, isn’t it time we stop looking down on social media?

Yes, social media can be a bad thing. It can be alienating. It can give cowards and bullies a safe harbour from which to throw stones….and goodness knows it can eat up hours that could be devoted to more productive and active pursuits.

But as someone who spends a lot of time on social media, for personal and professional reasons, I think it’s time to stand up and declare, “Social media ain’t so bad!”

Chances are if you’re reading this, you saw the link on Facebook or Twitter. In that case, I’m preaching to the converted.  My favourite kind of audience.

I know people who remain resolute and proud that they aren’t on social media. Really?!? In this day and age? Today, social media is not just about keeping up with your friends and the Kardashians. It’s not just the new watercooler, it’s the new connector, the new advertiser, and the new town square.  It’s the place to learn about everything that’s going on in your community and in the world.

Speaking of friends, I have made many via social media. We all know about re-connecting with olds buds, but I’ve met new people, and become friends with them, as a result of social media.  We actually get together in the real world and have coffee and stuff.  One such friendship has led to numerous business opportunities.  I know others who started out as strangers following each other on Instagram, then met, and said “hey, I like your feed,” and now they run a business together.  True story.

Social Media connects me to my community, my city and my world. I get a lot of my news by learning about on it first from social media.  (Twitter.) I get caught up on the latest pet videos on Facebook – best mood booster! And I keep tabs on what’s new in the world of fashion, design, food and travel. (Instagram.)  It also keeps me in the loop about local events, ones I may not hear about otherwise.  Gallery openings, Improv shows, interesting seminars and classes, you name it.

Social media has also encouraged me to give back.  Send me an email requesting money and chances are, it will end up in my junk folder. Snail mail? Hello recycling bin. But when I scroll by something like this on social, I often stop to take a look.  I’ve donated to charities and relief organizations running large-scale campaigns; to pet owners and people who desperately need money for treatments and surgeries; to friends and acquaintances who are crowd-sourcing various projects*.

I admit I have wasted buckets of time on social.  Funny pet videos, ridiculous quizzes and Buzz Feed’s Tasty videos are my weakness.  But I also use it to save time and money. I’ve booked an AirBnb because I saw a friend advertise it on Facebook. The hotel would have cost me way more.  I learn about discounts, sales and special offers for my favourite brands and stores.  And of course, we’ve all seen people hawk stuff on FB too. Speaking of which, does anyone want to buy a pair of brown suede booties, size 7? #Impulsebuy.

Does social media have its negatives?  Most assuredly.  But as with any tool – a hammer, a plow, a pen – its benefit is all in how you use it.  If you’re not on social media, I fear you are missing out.

*Please do not consider this an open invitation to hit me up for cash.

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