Social Media Good!

Just so I know it worked, you did read the title in a caveman voice didn’t you?

Ok, good.

Social media networks have taken a lot of abuse over the years, and in most cases it has been pretty unfair. Granted, platforms such as Facebook have done their fair share of naughty things without users’ permission – for example changing everyone’s default email to @facebook.com, but the worst things have come from the users of the sites themselves. From cyber bullying among teens to simple brainless trolling, social media has come under fire from cynics, who claim it has a bad influence on society.

In a way these cynics are right, and I totally agree that social media opens up so much opportunity for hateful people to hurl abuse at others. But such is life. Some people just love to hate, and aren’t satisfied with their achievements of the day until they’ve made someone feel bad about themselves. Take hecklers for example – this is just trolling in an offline setting. People pay good money to go to a stand-up comedy gig, to just shout ridiculous things from the back of the room! I’m going a little off course now, but my point is that social media can’t be blamed for the abuse that occurs online, it’s the fault of the users who choose to exploit the networks in this way.

I found a couple of nice articles today that sparked my inspiration to write this post – both of which made me feel good about things. I like it when that happens – when something you see or read sort of reaffirms your faith in humanity, just when you thought it had been lost in the chaos of the modern day. With every advance in technology and communication comes new ways for people to others how much of a nincompoop they think they are, but at the same time it opens up new avenues for communities to come together and celebrate something or support each other in a particular way.

This is the part where I mention the articles I found which caught my attention, and yes, they are from my beloved Mashable. One article was fairly straightforward, and made an instant impact through its title: “Humans of New York Tumblr Raises $85,000 for Sandy Relief”. The guy who created the Tumblr ‘Humans of New York’ (HONY) has used the social network Tumblr and his skills as a photographer to help spread the word about his fundraisers, which has subsequently raised a phenomenal amount of money to help those affected by the storm. Amazing!

Next I stumbled across this little gem – “Learn How Google+ Helped Skyrocket a Musician’s Career”. Basically to sum it up, a singer songwriter called Daria Musk performed live interactive concerts through Google+ Hangouts (essentially just video calls, a la Skype, for those that aren’t familiar with it). As a result her fame has catapulted, and now she’s in magazines and even made an appearance at the Grammys! All thanks to social media. Oh and I suppose her musical talent had something to do with it, but I’m going to give a lot of credit to social media J It’s quite fantastic how easily people can communicate across the world, and more so how much support total strangers give to someone’s cause, whether that be a fundraiser or just a listen and a ‘like’ for their song.

Social media isn’t all that bad. Yes there are a minority who choose to abuse it and spread their hate across the world, but most users are a nice bunch who will share because they care. Next time you come across some undiscovered talent on YouTube, share it with your friends. Likewise with fundraisers, or cool Kickstarter projects. Sharing is caring, and you’ll be surprised how such a little gesture can bring a little bit of joy to someone else’s life.

By Joe Topliffe

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