Social media is such an interesting place. Thinking back to a few decades ago when millennials were just being born, computers and the internet were just gaining popularity within the home. It is often joked about 90s kids remembering that their parents had some type of computer room or designated area in their home. With dial up, using the phone when on the computer was a no go for landlines, the days before mobile phones. It was a slower time for the internet and for technology as whole, but the unique jobs, interests, and societal boom that came from those computer rooms would have huge impacts in the coming decades.

1999 was only twenty years ago. A Y2K obsessed society, was not continually thinking about what was to come. Macintosh was just starting to make a popular appearance. The fight between androids and iPhones had yet to simmer. There were so many things that we had no idea of, yet we were preparing in those small rooms for a society all connected by the globalization efforts of social media.

To some, social media is bleh. It is not worth it for them to develop an online brand, to communicate themselves to the rest of the world, or to connect on an entirely new level to other people. For others, social media is an extension of them. Social media is their validation. Through likes and continued retweets and follows, each new growth is one more sense of validation. Twenty years ago self-worth was not measured through a digital heart. Now, as personal brands become our identity, we must navigate a digital world full of false stories and memories. Every person logged into Facebook keeps a digital diary of their life. Following someone means they will provide either a service to your social life or they post quality content worth a read.

Who knew that social media would lead to careers in it. People have jobs now as a social media managers and digital marketers. Media professors are teaching students the value of social media to companies. They can take VU’s online MBA courses. Business professionals have to learn to use social media to communicate to their audience. There are so many ways that professionals can use social media to tell their stories. It can be used in a multitude of ways for the betterment of society.

Posts have the ability to strengthen a reputation or ruin one. Social media is much more than just a place to post your engagement photos. Social media is now a place where people spend money to advertising. People will always get annoyed by advertisements that are not worth it for them to watch, but now advertisers are becoming so skilled in storytelling that people will watch an entire video on Facebook before realizing they are being told to support a brand or idea. Political battles are fought and won over social media. What used to be nonprofits plunging their money into campaign funds has turned into promoting and boosting posts across all platforms.

Are we posting to keep a journal or are we posting for alternative reasons. In a world where the pursuit of happiness is a constitutional right for some countries, it is interesting to live in digitally saturated world full of comparison boxes. Comparison is the easiest way to reduce happiness, or even remove it from one’s emotional vocabulary and feelings.

Social media is a good thing if we make it that way. We can connect with each other and find groups of people with similar interests. It can be so much easier to find out about events across the globe. There is a unique way to keep localization while also fostering global communication through social media. The idea that someone is an influencer because they have over 100,000 followers is ridiculous. An influencer is a teacher, a researcher, a professor, a doctor, a lawyer, a service member or anyone else who actually imposes meaningful influence. An influencer is not a person doing makeup vlogs. Social media can be useful when used as a communication tool to connect humanity and lift others up. It should be a place to share meaningful and well-rounded stories not a place where people are surrounded by hate. Political battles are not to be found behind a screen. Taking to Facebook or Twitter for a daily rant on a news article is not activism. Storming the legislature is activism. Showing up when needed is activism. Hateful opinions agrily typed at 3 a.m. behind a keyboard is simply ignorance. It shows low levels of tolerance and high levels of ignorance. Being a nice person does not cost a thing. Social media has so many awesome ways to make the world a better place if it is used as a connection tool rather than a divider of hateful comparisons. Social isolation is the easiest way to hurt someone’s mental health. Social media makes it easy to make someone feel isolated in world full of seven billion people, but it’s also easy to make someone feel connected and like they have a voice. There is always a choice before someone hits “post.”