How to Make Social Media A Positive Thing

I'm very aware that it's 2019 and social media is the forefront of our world. And for us millennials, social media is not just the hub for everything communication, but for many, it is also a large contributor to our self-esteem. We all know the pit in our stomach that emerges when we're disappointed in the number of likes we get on our Instagram pictures, or when you see a Snapchat story of a hangout you weren't invited to, or when your friend doesn't post for your birthday. Oftentimes we only show the pictures we look the prettiest and skinniest in, and frankly, just the best parts of our lives. I'm guilty of it, and so are you.

Recall the last time you took a picture not just because you thought you looked good in it, or that it matched your ~trendy feed~ but because you wanted to look back at the special memory of that moment. How many times have you whipped out your phone because your friend was doing something drunk and stupid and you wanted to document it for your private story rather than just laughing it off and enjoying the moment? Because let's face it, those moments are few and far between.

On the other side, think about how many times your parents, teachers, and coaches reminded you to keep your social media clean and not post something that could get you in trouble or negatively impact your future. All those cumulative hours spent being cautious and deeply thinking about these things is absurd. Social media is EVERYTHING and your digital footprint has an extremely large influence on how you live your day to day life.

Nonetheless, I am a supporter of social media and its opportunity for creativity, expression, and connecting with people. There are so many wonderful things such as job opportunities and reestablishing old friendships that can come from the powerful tool we call social media. It is a way for us to find people to share in common interests, seek advice, and show off the people and things that we love the most. Social media may have its problems, but it is certainly not practical or even wise to get rid of it in its entirety. Again, it's 2019.

However, I firmly believe that there are changes to be made and ways that companies can help fix the unhealthy obsession with materialism and physical appearance it can foster. Sure, we can't stop people from posting what they want on social media, and unfortunately, we still may get a little hurt at what we may see. Yet I do see the value of trying to stimulate positive changes that can make social media a place to lift people up rather than bring them down.

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through "The Morning Toasters" Facebook group (if you're confused about what I'm talking about you can view my past article here), and came upon something that caused me to think a lot. A fellow Canadian toaster shared this photo regarding the changes that came with their new Instagram update:

Lauryn Smith

Look! You cannot see other people's likes, just you're own! In my mind, this is truly revolutionary. After doing more research, pretty much Instagram is doing a test update with some users in Canada where they are hiding likes from anyone you're following. You can see who liked the photo (and theoretically do the math if you were really desperate to see how many likes your followers have), but the count feature is no longer accessible. When it comes to your own pictures, you can see the number of likes you get, but you have to click the "others" button to be able to do so.

I'm sure if there is a positive reception of these changes from Canadian users, then they are likely to be applied to all Instagram users worldwide. Personally, I think this is an extremely beneficial change for the platform in helping to stimulate social media usage in a positive light. For me, at least, I think that knowing that my followers no longer will be able to see these types of numbers will come with a sense of relief.

It's hard to stop caring what others think, and quantitative features put in place such as like or follower counts greatly contribute to anxiety and feelings of self-worth amongst social media users. I am such an advocate for social media but have seen the adverse effects and even stress that it creates. I truly think that a small change like this is a step in the right direction in creating a place for a healthy, authentic online presence for everyone involved. Praying that these changes can come to the United States soon!

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