Recently, I found one of the greatest online resources I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s a link you can click which, if you’re logged into Facebook, allows you to see which of your friends have “liked” Canadian rock group Nickelback.
Try it for yourself here
It was so incredibly simple yet so genius that it made me realize for the first time that a big part of me truly loves social media. Of course, my four friends who have publicly declared their love for rock music’s proverbial “punching bag
” come as no surprise. They’re nostalgic for high school. Not that there’s anything wrong with that … but you know.
The amazing part is that a skillful person thought it was important to spend time coming up with a way to easily see which of your friends likes this (terrible) band. (BuzzFeed even took it a step further
and created links for people who like Crocs, “Two and a Half Men,” Fox News and Ashton Kutcher.)
Since I work in social media marketing, I don’t want to give the impression that I ever disliked the media. It’s obvious virtues—enabling constant connection with friends and family—are apparent. But I love social media because of how it’s evolved, for the new ways it’s making us think and for the conversations it starts.
Conversations like the one our country had about Karen Klein, the 68-year-old bus monitor from Rochester, New York, who was bullied by four seventh graders. Without social media, nothing comes of that story. It stays on the bus, or at the very most within the school. But the students committed their offense in front of a cell phone camera. A fellow student posted the video online, and it went viral.
It’s the aftermath that shows there’s reason to love social media. Klein has seen her life turned around. Social media can be roundly credited with turning this horribly negative story into a positive one. Klein told the Associated Press
about the benefits of the video going viral:
“But the best part of her ordeal going public, and the resulting school action, ‘is that they have to do community service—for senior citizens,’ she said, her voice rising with emotion.
“‘I'm so glad everyone out there knows about this,’ she added, sounding upbeat as she spoke to the AP minutes after returning from Boston and a much needed, four-day vacation that followed the flurry of attention raining on her from across the country …
“Another benefit of the video of the incident going viral, she said, ‘is that it's putting people into action, making them talk to their children, making them teach them what they should not do.’”
Users of the fundraising site indigogo
set out to raise $5,000 and bring attention to Klein’s ordeal. More than $675,000 has been collected. Not only does social media enable us to do the right thing, but also it teaches our kids to do the same.
Beyond its social good, social media has also influenced the way we think. At first glance, websites such as BuzzFeed
and Know Your Meme
turn our attention to nothing but mildly humorous drivel and celebrity dreck. But a closer look reveals that social media has altered the way we perceive our world. These sites reveal patterns of thought and shared experiences. They’re making the world smaller and more consumable—one gif at a time. They’re finding ways that we’re intersecting aspects of our popular culture in ridiculously creative ways—like Pentecostal church services appropriately set to dubstep music
All the while, sites like these reveal much of life’s worthier minutiae that would go otherwise unnoticed. We no longer have reason or excuses to feel out of the loop—only thankfulness that we never again will be.