It seems that everywhere we turn, somebody is telling us that social media is bad for us.
It isolates us, it compels us to relentlessly compare ourselves to others, it allows us to paint our lives with broad strokes of perfection that we can never live up to and it compromises the actual, in-person, human interaction that we need.
If that’s all true — even partially — why do we still participate?
Is it to be entertained, to be informed, to avoid the very real loneliness of the pandemic era — or, instead, to stay connected to individuals who without it, would be out of reach?
Even if that’s all true — even partially — is it really a worthy use of so much of our time?
The truth is that social media — like virtually every other element of human interaction — is, yes, inherently flawed, but also rich with opportunities for goodness.
Perhaps one of the most underplayed of these advantages is that social media affords us the opportunity to support fellow human beings, and their causes, in a very direct way without even knowing them.
And this includes women’s issues.
If you think about it, the potential impact is mind-blowing. We can create/post/share/tweet, add a trending hashtag, and BOOM! — with zero cost to anyone — we’re adding our voices to something we believe in.
Perfect illustrations of this are hashtag-driven women’s movements like #MeToo, #HeForShe, #BringBackOurGirls, #WomensMarch, and #YesAllWomen.
Without social media, these life-changing, society reinventing movements would still be on a wishlist somewhere.
Want to be even more inspired?
Travel back in time and consider how much more quickly women would have gained the right to vote (the demand for voting rights began in the 1840s but weren’t awarded until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920) if social media (which gained popularity in the early 2000s) and hashtags (which date to 2007) had invaded our society eighty years earlier.
#WomensSuffrage #VotesForWomen #MyVoteIsMyVoice
#StopTheWarOnWomen #WomenWorkWomenVote #WomensRightsAreHumanRights
What if while “ruining” society, social media is saving it at the same time?
What if it’s the most powerful force in the history of grassroots movements?
From an individual standpoint, it’s key to remember that each crashing wave of change really does begin with a tiny drop.
Let’s imagine the first woman to go public on social media with the #MeToo hashtag. Sitting back in her chair, phone in hand after sharing, she likely thought to herself, “I’m scared, but I’m gonna change the freaking world…”
But, instead of being rewarded with a viral reaction, the immediate feedback she received for her valiant effort was likely less than enthusiastic. A mere seven likes and two retweets didn’t necessarily signal the beginning of a new era for womanhood.
Tragically, she probably went to bed that night feeling delusional, silly, and defeated.
Little did she know that eventually, that underwhelming response would magically morph into something she probably never even imagined — a society-transforming, unstoppable movement.
Even if the ultimate reach hadn’t been on such a grand scale — let’s say her post changed 1,000 or 100 or even 10 hearts instead of billions — it still would have been worth her boldly trying to make a difference. Because every ounce of good intention can, and often will, blossom into gallons of greatness.
The truth is, we can’t ever know the impact that the big — and even more importantly, small — things we do might have, including what we do on social media. We will get glimpses, but we’ll never know how far our attempt to create change or share goodness can go.
The key is to never, ever, stop trying.