So, you either spend the classic 9:00am-5:00pm work day staring at the computer, or you’re a college student staring at your computer trying to write your paper or look at online PowerPoints for hours on end. After all that, you come home, throw your backpack on the floor, flick your shoes of your feet, sit on the couch…just to go right back to looking at a screen, whether it be computer or phone based.
Of course, there are the endless negatives of social media— seeing your friends at a party on Snapchat while you are sitting at home, failing to complete that amazing cake on Pinterest you tried to recreate, or stumbling on an Instagram post that got more likes than your most recent selfie. There is always the ying to the yang. So, let’s think about how social media creates some positives in our life. No need to worry, there truly ARE some positives!
Of course, social media can be a self-esteem booster! As I discussed in my last blog, we tend to feel more liked/loved as a person if we get attention and “likes” on Instagram. In an article by Christopher Bergland, he mentions that researchers have confirmed that the desire to be “liked” on Facebook is a universal phenomenon. Everybody desires it. It is the idea that we all want to feel love and belonging so the “likes” we get tend to satisfy this basic need. While self-esteem should not be solely based on social networking websites, it does not mean that it should not serve a small purpose in a person’s life. Keith Campbell, head of the department of psychology at UGA said, “ Social networking should not be seen as an answer to building self-esteem, but the fact that people may get a jolt when logging on does not mean they should stop either.” Although I don’t post many Facebook statuses ( I am more of an observer), I do post photos on Instagram and, of course, it is a confidence and self-esteem booster when I get a lot of “likes” on my photo.
2. HELPING LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS
Fortunately, long-distance relationships are easier to maintain thanks to technological advances within social media networking. We have the opportunity to instantly Facebook a friend, tag a person on Instagram, or send a picture on Snapchat to your friend that lives miles away. It is a way to keep tabs on your friend or significant other’s day-to-day activities (without being creepy about it). My friend informed me about this YouTube video by Matthew Hussy called, 3 Secrets to Make Your Long Distance Relationship Last. He talks about having a team mindset, developing your other senses, but the one that pertains to social media is having surprises in the LDR. Having different forms of communication and going back and forth between tagging on Instagram, messaging on Facebook, or sending pictures to give a short montage of your day, can simply keep a LDR strong. For my first year of college I attended the University of Montana, which was roughly 11 hours away from home. For a while, it was difficult to handle being on my own and having my friends and family live so far away from me. My only way of keeping in touch was by phone or computer. Before then I barely ever used Facebook; there was a point in time I didn’t even have it. Since I moved, I decided to activate my account again solely to stay in touch with my friends and family. I would often write on people’s timelines or use Skype so I had the opportunity to see their faces even if I wasn’t there. Social media helped me maintain a strong connection with them and helped with feeling homesick. As homesickness faded way, it wasn’t so much as contacting them through Facebook or Skype; it was just seeing their Facebook statuses or Instagram photos they posted just to see what they were up to.
3. UPDATING MORE CAUSES HAPPINESS
Do you ever come across those couples that constantly have to post photos with captions about how much they love each other? You read a post that says, ” Aw, came home to flowers and cooked dinner. I am so lucky and blessed, ” and you think to yourself, “are they REALLY that happy or do they just need the attention?” Turns out that is not always the case. Recently a study published by the psychology of Popular Media Culture found out that couples who post a lot of pictures together on Facebook were associated with higher levels of relationship quality. Furthermore, they suggest that the satisfaction comes down to honesty. People who are more honest in their relationships are not as afraid to share photos together on Facebook and vise versa—couples who share a lot of relationship photos feel they need to be more honest with their partner. Recently, there has been a Psychology Today article by Jeremy Nicholson where he discusses the research by Toma and Choi (2015). They explored the connection between a couple’s shared Facebook activity, feelings of commitment, and how long they have been together. Their results seemed surprising to me. Participants who listed their Facebook status as “in a relationship”, who shared pictures of themselves with their significant other, and who posted on their partner’s wall, felt more committed to each other. Even further, it increased the probability of still being together at the six-month follow up.
So for those of you in a romantic relationship, post those sappy photos or statuses about you two!
4. ENHANCING INTERACTIONS
Not only can social media play a positive role in your relationships, but it can enhance personal interactions as well. In Natasha Koifman’s article, Can Social Media Actually Benefit Relationships, she talks about how different apps can create positive interactions. For example, LinkedIn can help build a professional network, allowing professionals to view your profile and offer new job opportunities based on your experience and interests. As stated in Caroline’s blog, Tinder can enhance your dating pool and offer different types of matches. Koifman mentions that Twitter is a great way to reach out to companies with 77% of Fortune 500 companies having a Twitter account.
There are always those people that share a little too much about themselves on social networks. It is the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. We are informed by their everyday moods, weaknesses, and accomplishments. An opinion article by Dave Parrack suggests that posting our emotions isn’t always a bad thing. By posting all of our emotions, it shows that we can empathize with each other. If a person comments on his/her depression and how he/she is having a hard day, there is almost always going to be someone commenting that will have empathy towards you, often times trying to give you advice. If you think about it, social networking could have some sort of link to therapy; almost always, there is someone that has or is going through the same thing you are in his or her own form.
Social media is definitely an enjoyable and entertaining outlet to building relationships and keeping them enduring and secure. Yes, there are numerous studies on how they negatively impact people’s relationships as you will see in Sarah’s upcoming blog, but always keep in mind there are positives and it can promote a sense of peace with yourself and others.