MI621, or Why I’m Still Madly in Love with Social Media

My initial thoughts on social media post had the alternate title of “An Ode to Twitter,” gesturing to my love of the microblogging platform. When I entered this class, I considered myself to have a pretty solid understanding of social media and yet also realized that it seemed like an untapped resource. I ended the blog post by saying that social media was both a way to connect with others and a marketing strategy.

As if that even comes close to covering the breadth of it all. Social media is so much more than Twitter or marketing.

Social media is about collaboration and constant communication. It can open up the realms of communication between companies and customers or within companies themselves. It can challenge our ideas of what is considered connecting with other people on a deeper level. Social media can expand our minds and worlds and allow us to place our trust in complete strangers. Or it can filter content for us and give us a limited view of the world, showing us only clickbait headlines. It can be oh so cool and a web producer of SNY (Mets’ TV channel) as well as the new social media director can find and like my post about the Mets and their social media community (excuse me while I faint). At the same time, it can be heartbreakingly destructive and used to promote dangerous behaviors.

 So, as the semester draws to a close, here are my final takeaways:

Be smart about social media.

The Internet is permanent. Everything you put out there will stay out there, so be conscious of those pictures you’re putting up from Halloween (I’m looking at you, Boston Marathon girl and Twin Towers girls)…

…or if you’re in charge of social media at your company. The choices you make will stay present on these channels for a long time. Whether you knew it or not, when you created your Facebook, Twitter, etc., you created your brand. And, just like a business needs to be conscious of all the content they’re putting out there, stay true to the voice you want people to hear and stay conscious of what your posts say about you.

Social media can form communities, both good…

Social media can often be frowned upon because it seems as though we’re not forming real connections and we no longer know how to have real conversations. But in the less extreme cases, you can see sports fans connecting over their wins or heartwrenching losses, businesses using social media as customer service to hear their customers’ needs, companies crowdsourcing solutions, or even ordinary people sharing the uplifting moments in a horrible tragedy, i.e. the Boston Marathon.



We’re able to connect with individuals and companies in real time. We’re able to meet other people with shared interests and befriend strangers. We’re able to trust strangers to give us a ride or a place to sleep with sharing economies. I can make friends with people I may never meet or I can enhance my current friendships by having an ongoing conversation via social media.

…and bad.
Community is not an inherently good word.

Communities can perpetuate destructive behaviors like self-harm, eating disorders or cyberbullying. Pro-ana/pro-mia blogs encourage individuals to “stay strong” and lose more weight, and what’s worse is the solution hasn’t been found yet. Do we silence them and risk hindering their recovery? Or do we allow these communities to remain as an outlet that may trigger others? Cyberbullying remains a rampant problem that still doesn’t get all the attention it deserves and, thus, still results in many young children’s depression and suicides as other young people gang up on one another. So while we see all this positivity, social media can be powerful in an ugly, destructive way as well.

Social media can teach you…

Use Twitter to get your news and keep up to date on the latest happenings as they happen. Watch YouTube videos and learn about other people’s lives, cultures or just learn from their own set of skills. Get fit in a non-intimidating way. Or, to reference my last post, pay attention to what your fans are saying; hear your audience.

…or limit what you learn.

Filter bubbles and clickbait keep us stuck in an ongoing cycle of only seeing the content we want to see, the things that will move us or inspire us, by dumbing down headlines for us college kids because they know we’ll click on them. The virality of a post will matter more to some sites than the actual quality of the content they’re sharing with us. News, as in journalism found in the New York Times or CNN, and viral content are not interchangeable terms. If my newsfeed and timeline are inundated with this type of content, I worry that I’ll miss out on what’s going on in the world, the current events.

All of the endless possibilities (good and bad) of social media absolutely blow my mind. We are experiencing a constantly changing medium that I’m sure the next MI621 class will discover even more uses for. So, for my final words,

I’ll leave you with this.

With social media, our world expands. We can be heard by anyone. Let’s make sure what we put out there is worth listening to.

12 comments

  1. Hi Megan!
    Great post, thank you for this. First of all, I really like the way you set it up, by talking about both the good and the bad of social media. I agree with everything you said, and I especially like the point you made about social media forming good communities and bad communities, and it’s up to you to decide which ones to be a part of. The examples of cyber-bulling and eating disorders are ideal examples.
    I also found this article about some negative effects of social media that I thought you might find intriguing:
    http://austinmccann.com/2013/05/28/negative-impact-of-social-media-on-teens/
    It talks about how social media is not only a part of teenagers’ world, but it is becoming their world. As such, it is making them more comfortable and less sensitive. By this, they mean that because of the social media world that teens grow up in now a days, they have become comfortable sharing anything and everything online, and are much less sensitive about this type of thing.
    I would agree with what this article is saying, but I would also argue that there are many positives to social media, like you mentioned above.
    Thanks again for sharing your closing thoughts, I think you made some truly great points.

    1. I really like that negative effects of SM article! Interesting about the identity crisis, something I wouldn’t have thought about. It’s so important to regard these aspects of social media and see how “safe” teens feel when they’re online, despite the fact that there’s not as much privacy as they think and it’s just as real on there and has real life consequences.
      Thanks so much for your feedback, Caroline! :)

  2. You do a great job of summarizing and touching on so many different aspects of our class! I agree with Caroline – using the good and the bad of each takeaway is very effective. I think many of us have tried to decide whether social media is good or bad and you help to show that it can truly be both. You’ve written some of my favorite posts this semester and I really like how you reference them and provide so many links. Interested to see where social media takes you in the future – hopefully a job! Great post!

    1. Aw, Meagan, thanks so much! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my posts, I’ve loved yours too, they’re so well-written! And thank you, I hope a job in social media’s in my future…:)

  3. I also enjoyed the layout of your post, in particular showing that the same community building aspect of social media can help to an extreme level, but can also cause real damage in people’s lives. This definitely showcases that these communities, whose members may never have met offline, are able to influence the real world lives of others within the community. As you said, in cases like the Boston Marathon it can mobilize a nation, and unfortunately in pro-ana groups it can cripple the lives of others.

    1. It’s so true, like how Kristie’s post said, social media can bring us together or tear us apart. And some of these negative communities manage to do both at the same time. Acting as an outlet for these people who are suffering and giving them a support system who understands them can bring us together for such a good purpose, but then these communities also potentially surround people with thinspiration and negative thinking and such, which can tear them apart.

  4. Agreed agreed agreed! I don’t wanna go either, but I’m so thankful for all the lessons you layed out…your points about community especially reminded me of your previous posts about self-harm and pro-ana/pro-mia communities, and I wanted to say thank you again for bringing those topics into class discussion. That was a “dark side” of social media I had never known before, and it really opened my eyes to things I wasn’t expecting to learn about. I hope you keep writing on your blog next semester!

    1. Thanks so much, Kristie! I’ve always been passionate about mental health and about social media, so exploring the two together has been a really exciting opportunity for me. I appreciate your feedback and I’d love to keep up my blog next semester, I hope you do as well!

  5. Nice balanced reflection on goods and bads

  6. I agree with Caroline and Meagan- love your portrayal of the good, the bad, and the ugly of social media. When your wrote about the bad parts of a community, I thought about BC Confessions and all of the drama with that this year. Everyone at BC knew about the page and contributed to the page but it went south fairly quickly with one rocky post. While this changed the way people viewed the site, it also pronounced the the best aspects of that community. So I think a community could in essence hold mixed aspects if their community is big enough!

  7. Really awesome final post and I agree with everyone on this thread – balancing out the good and bad was a really nice way to wrap up your thoughts. I totally agree that now, more than ever, it’s so important to be smart about what we say. On social media, our words and actions can last forever, and they don’t reflect well upon us it can be really damaging. I really enjoyed your presentation and final conclusion that the ability to form destructive communities is one of the dark sides of social media. It saddens me that these communities exist and that a solution hasn’t been found, but I remain hopeful that someone will come up with a way that supports their recovery instead of silencing them or shutting them down.

    Anyway, awesome wrap up and nice blogging throughout the semester!

  8. Hi Megan! Great way to wrap up the semester. I think that we can all agree social media has its ups and downs and that its all about maintaining a balance. You outlined a lot of great points about the bad communities that exist on social media- a topic I find really interesting and disturbing at the same time. I also really liked how you touched on the limiting effect of all of the “tailored specifically to you” information we receive. Ever since our last class, I have been starting to try to click on more sources before I take anything word for word from any one article- need to keep an open mind! Great post!

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