It is a common and overbearing judgement to state that millennials use social media for self-indulgence, exercising vanity and seeking validation. Most of us tend to only publish the better bits of our lives thus creating an online persona that ends up being contrived and superfluous. We take multiple pictures for “the gram”, post party pictures to prove we’re living the good life, and comment less than coherent emoji’s on our friend’s pictures because boosting ones ego is often a reciprocal act. We display our successes like we owe people something.
Attention is the new currency. It used to be just newspapers and chain stores trying to reel you in to purchase their products and subscriptions, aggressively vying for your loyalty. This capitalistic philosophy of “selling yourself” has permeated the individual psyche and anxiety disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent. The line between trying to document our lives and justifying our existence has become a thin one.
But I’m generalizing. There are people who use their platforms for what they were ideally built for –to spread messages and to connect with the world around us. It was only after I revamped my social media sites and followed some inspiring profiles did I realize what an immensely powerful tool social media can be.
The more aware you are of the media you intake, the more competent you become at sifting through bullshit. Media literacy enables you to be critical and locate content that makes you curious and socially aware. Beyond just socializing, media literacy can take you from being a listener to an active participant in global conversations on issues that matter. It’s not just noise anymore.
So if you’re like me and think how we’re using social media is kind of backwards, become a game changer. Don’t give a shit about having a perfect online life and instead, aim to deliver words and actions of substance. Nobody can relate to perfection and that toned stomach won’t linger in somebodies head beyond the initial feeling of admiration. People connect with stories, life philosophies and struggles.
Have a driving force behind the content you post and ask yourself “Does what I’m saying improve on the silence? Is it kind? Is it honest? Is it meaningful?” Not everything you post has to have some noble purpose behind it; life is never that serious. But realize you can do more than just document your good times. You can make people laugh, you can entertain, educate and inspire. You can explore what excites you and use social media as an artistic tool to convey these messages.
Best of all, it doesn’t take much besides honesty. Conscious intention seems contrived and has little power to influence. All you have to do is become the example that you yourself want to see.
Owning my voice in the digital sphere has transcended into my everyday life. I used to shove things under the carpet but now I welcome debates about controversial topics with my parents. I’ve began to realize that spoken words can go miles; a simple hello can make somebodies day and you can change long held prejudices by openly sharing an opinion.
“If you disagree, make your voice heard. If not you, who? If not now, when? A better world is possible and it’s entirely in your hands to be a part of it”
This interconnected technological world makes it glaringly apparent that we are no special snowflake. But there is a subtle beauty in that. We may feel alone at times but at the click of a mouse, we can find support in communities that we share commonalities with. It’s empowering to know that though we may not have anyone like us in our immediate environment (especially if you have a unique mental/physical condition of some sort), they exist out there in the world, dealing with the same hardships that we are. We are insignificant yet we are so important. We may not be able to change the world but by sharing our stories and opinions, we can change someone’s world and they can carry that torch and change someone else’s. And that’s downright powerful if you ask me.
Written by: A Matchstick Editor