In this day and age, social media has strong presence in our lives. With our selfies, status updates, instagram aesthetics and live tweets, we are told that we have become more narcissistic and antisocial. We are told that we spend too much time behind our screens and not enough time face-to-face. We are told that what we post online now could haunt us later on. Social media is portrayed in a way that is only seen as harmful rather than beneficial. Yes, social media is harmful if you are on it all of the time, but just like most things, it’s best in moderation. But even in moderation, we have to be careful not to distort our social media.

Social media is incredibly powerful. We are given the power of to determine how we want others to perceive us and our lives. We twist our emotions, our bodies and our words so we look prettier, sound smarter or seem happier. People only post when they’re having fun or did something new and interesting, but we fail to post when we look mediocre or curious or sad. Most of us, myself included, have used the power of social media to glorify rather than actualize.

With this fairly new form of communication, we are still confused on the etiquette and the power it possesses, so we abuse it and overuse it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr -- all these platforms are simply different ways to capture your life. In my experience, I’ve seen people add filters, adjust lighting and crop pictures, then delete and restart. I’ve seen people search the Internet looking for the perfect meme to accompany their “funny and relatable” tweet. I’ve seen people match their cover photo to their profile picture to have perfect aesthetics. And there’s nothing wrong with pretty pictures, “funny and relatable” tweets or perfect aesthetics, except for when it’s to please or one-up someone else. Like I said earlier, social media is powerful, but somehow we’ve let that power transfer from the account’s owner, to the account’s followers.

Having social media isn’t about perfectly timed posts, gaining followers, posting a certain number of pictures, getting the most retweets or having people tell you they wish they had your “artsy” account. It shouldn’t be for anyone, but you. We’ve created some made-up responsibility to our followers, and with great power comes great responsibility. But we need to remember that that responsibility is to ourselves, not our followers.

Use social media to accurately represent yourself. Use it to be an activist, or for photography or to find inspiration. Use it to find beauty tips, travel tips, lifehacks, music updates, sports updates, news updates. Don’t use it to make fun of someone else or blatantly disrespect another person. Don’t use it to imitate someone else’s life. Use it to document your life. Make it a journal or scrapbook of your life that you can reflect on, because let’s be honest we’ve all went back and stalked ourselves at least once. It’s time we look at social media positively. But to do that we need to display ourselves honestly. When I began to be authentic on social media, I found that I connected with more people. I’ve been inspired, I’ve learned, I’ve taught, I’ve made connections, I’ve joined communities. I’ve also gained new perspectives and opinions. And I’ve become a more open-minded person who is interested in the opinions, cultures and interests of others.

Social media is a powerful platform that we have distorted because of the pressure we created to be cool or happy or interesting. Having social media accounts is a way to share your life, opinions, passions, adventures while getting a peek into other’s lives. It doesn’t encapsulate the whole complexity of a person, but it’s a wonderful form of self-expression. As a society, we need to find a balance of seeing the value of social media without using it to replace face-to-face communication and form opinions of others.

The power of social media is being bold enough to share who you are, what you think, and how you see. Social media is not destructive and cowardly, it is inventive and brave. It's the ways and reasons people use it that have twisted the true power of social media.