Despite the overwhelming amount of articles claiming that social media is toxic, there have been many people that have used their platforms to promote positivity and social change.
Social media is used to create relatable experiences for people. Many teen moms have created outlets online specifically in the YouTube community to help other women who are becoming young moms not feel alone. There are many of these mini-communities all across the internet. Recently, teens have been turning to the social media platform, TikTok, to find relatable influencers. People can go on to a platform and view videos applicable to their own lives even something small like being stressed about school. This can also happen on other social media platforms. According to Psychology Today, a study found that using Instagram was related to feeling close and appreciated in teens.
Social media has also fostered online political activism. Numerous human rights causes have been channeled through online movements because people are using their platforms for raising awareness. The teenage voice has become more important as identity politics have come to the forefront of western society. Identity politics is an approach where people prioritize concerns that are most relevant to their particular race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, culture or other identities. Online platforms allow people to spread awareness for issues they care about and relate to. The Pew Research Center found that more than two-thirds of American adults get their news from social media and 54 percent of teens get their news from these same platforms.
There are dozens of issues that have been highlighted by online influencers. For example, a teenager on TikTok made a set of three posts accusing China of putting Muslims into concentration camps. She began each by discussing beauty tips to catch people’s attention, but then asked her viewers to raise awareness of what she described as ‘another Holocaust.’ Another influencer, Shahd Khidir, a Sudanese beauty blogger, posted a caption on Instagram requesting that her followers spread awareness of the crisis in Sudan, where government forces violently cracked down on protesters. Since then, there have been many posts on Instagram about these issues. These posts take the strategy of announcing fake news to catch people’s attention like “Kim Kardashian and Kanye West broke up” and often follow it with “now that I got your attention” to discuss the concentration camps.
Some celebrities have also stepped in to discuss more personal issues. On Oct. 15 2017, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet”. Her tweet has since received more than 60,000 responses and reposts. This tweet was a major catalyst for the #MeToo movement. The #MeToo movement has helped spread awareness of sexual assault and how to prevent it. Since then there have been many more posts created to help prevent sexual assault from happening.
Social media is not just a place to browse friends’ snaps or comment on their amazing outfits. It is also a powerful place where people can come together and harness the best parts of humanity to bring censored issues to the forefront. It’s a platform where anybody can quickly and effectively make a difference in this world just through sharing experiences and raising awareness.