Much has been written about the negative aspects of social media on our health, our stress-levels and even on society. We’ve touched on it here: TMI issues, increased anxiety, and comparing ourselves with others, and there have been countless articles about effects on self esteem, relationships, and our abilities to focus. And as much as it’s important to monitor the ways that social media can have detrimental effects, lately I’ve been thinking about the ways that social media can also be used to promote positivity in our friendships, creativity — even on our health! Let’s be honest: most of us are spending more time than ever on social networks and they’re probably not going anywhere for awhile, so let’s take a look at how we can harness that power for good. (And since I’ve had some great conversations with friends about this lately, I asked a few of them to weigh in)

  1. Get inspired creatively. My friend Eve (who is the creator of our latest video series) says “Being a filmmaker, to me, a picture is a thousand words, and I don’t want to see all those inspiring quote pictures that float around the web. When I grab my phone in the mornings, instead of thinking of the day to come, I open Instagram. Here I have filled my feed with people that inspire me: minimalist photographers, textile artists, filmmakers, foodies, local fashion design & vintage shops, friends and family. I view these images from a kind-hearted, clean slate without judgement or competition and in turn, they help center me to start my days from a creative place.  – Eve
  2. Send positive vibes. Instead of passively scrolling through your feed, why not give some likes, leave some encouraging comments, and respond to the ones left on yours? Jenn Rose says, “I look at my Facebook page as just another opportunity to be friendly and network. I login about once a day, usually around 8pm, and I always try and “like” and comment on other’s posts. It’s so easy to do and it makes people feel good to have your support and attention. Kind of like a digital high five. I think it feels good to interact with your peers online as opposed to just being voyeuristic.”
  3. Keep in touch with faraway family and friends. I feel infinitely more connected to my long-distance friends since social media came into my life. On a regular basis, I chat with childhood buddies on Facebook, comment on NYC-based clients’ Instagrams, and send one-liners to my blogging besties on Twitter. It’s tough to keep in touch with all the people I love in this busy world of ours, and social media makes me feel closer and more connected to those I rarely get to see face-to-face.
  4. Plan a trip. Chanel says, “When I’m planning a trip, I find that social media can be my biggest ally. Whether I’m Facebook messaging a childhood friend for their personal guide to experiencing their new home town, or following a like-minded influencer on Instagram to get the scoop on all the best spots to visit, I love using social media to tailer my adventures to my exact style and interests.” 
  5. Get #Fitspiration. I don’t know about you, but seeing a strong body in action makes me want to get out there and kick some butt, and the plethora of amazing fitness instructors, dancers, yogis, and athletes doing their thing on Instagram provides endless motivation on the daily. From super healthy lunch ideas to partner workout moves, I love that I can scroll through my feed and walk away with ideas for getting back on track or taking my fitness goals up a notch.

I’d love to hear how you guys are using social media for good! Leave a comment and let us know. And a final thought: are we also manifesting good in other peoples’ lives through our use of social media? Are we curating our Instagram feed hoping to impress… or to inspire? As has always been true with face-to-face interactions, if we can find ways to spread joy and make others feel good on social media, we’re guaranteed to get a big dose of happiness right back.

*photo: cub aelera

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Comments (12)
  1. 1
    Kelly March 22, 2016 at 8:22 am

    As a social media manager I see the good, the bad and the ugly side of social media – but mostly what comes out of it for me is the fact that youre build a community – whether it’s a community of friends and family or a community of like-minded strangers, social media connects our world and helps us find those niche communities that make us so eager to come back to our social platforms of choice and share our lives with each other.

  2. 2
    Libbynan March 22, 2016 at 9:03 am

    I’m an old lady of sixty-eight who really doesn’t “do” social media. My children and grandchildren are very active though and we have discussed it a lot. I feel that it should be treated like any other social interaction. If you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, don’t put it out there. Treat others as you want to be treated. Be kind, be kind, be kind! I fully appreciate how much there is to be gained from this kind of global communication between people who would otherwise never meet, but that means we should be even more careful of how we behave. Knowledge is useless if it doesn’t include knowledge of how to treat others.

    • Ivana @ The Charming Avenue March 23, 2016 at 4:25 am

      This is so beautifully put and I couldn’t agree more. I think that with all the haters and trolls out there, it’s more important than ever to use social media to spread good vibes and positive energy around.

    • Christina Gonzales March 24, 2016 at 11:54 am

      I couldn’t agree more! I guess we can all do our part in making the “social media” world a better place! “Be kind” as you say! And 68 is NOT old, you are a young lady blessed with beautiful wisdom! Cheers!

    • Hope April 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      LOVE what you said, Libbynan – I completely agree. I strive to use any platform for good and kindness and I wish more people would forget the anonymity of social media and treat each other with the respect they would face to face. Thank you!

  3. 3
    Tessa March 22, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Great comment, Libbynan, and I completely agree! We have somehow lost the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable.
    Let kindness be your guide and it will never fail you.

  4. 4
    Carole March 22, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Love these positives, Camille, and you’ve pointed out some I had never considered. One thing that makes me a little sad as an older woman in the age of the internet is that there is no longer much of a reason to ask others for information….and that was once a way to strengthen relationships between generations. Why call your aunt for a great chocolate cake recipe or ask your dad how to start a garden when there are a million sites online that will give you exact instructions for ten ways to do it? It’s wonderful to have so much information at your fingertips, but sometimes I get tired of people whipping out their phones to find an answer 🙂

    • Camille Styles March 22, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      That is such an interesting point! While I do love the quick access that the internet gives me to so many ideas, it is true that it takes a lot of the personal connection out of meaningful info, like family recipes as you mentioned. Sometimes the most convenient route is not always the best!

  5. 5
    Caitlin - Wanderer and Wolf March 22, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Love this post! I think all too often it’s easy to see the negative in social media but when you step back and look at it, there’s so much good to be found. I love that it allows me to meet new people and keep in touch with friends all over the world! With it, you quite literally have the world at your fingertips!

    xx, Caitlin

  6. 6
    Claire Magruder March 23, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    I hear this conversation often, and it’s so interesting that as women we immediately play the “compare” game, as opposed to the “inspiration” game. I became fascinated by blogs written by women in their 30s and 40s, when I was in my late 20s. In my eyes these were precious resources and hard won wisdom, shared by women who were doing it all and had figured out a TON more than I had at that point in my life. Social media became an inspirational resource as I navigated marriage, buying a home, planned a wedding, and more and I honestly think it helped more than hurt. I aspire to be like women that have accomplished great things, have nailed an effective fitness routine, or who know how to host an easy going and gorgeous dinner party and it’s awesome that social media offers us multiple platforms in which to view these achievements. Of course there are times when I fall into that jealous mode, but I try to kick myself out of there as quickly as possible and focus on the beauty of being a part of this exciting cultural moment, where women are really putting themselves out there in a wonderful light.

  7. 7
    Kate March 28, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I particularly relate to #1. As someone who has artistic ambitions (and once even wrote about it on here!), I really get inspired by checking out other artists online. Instagram has also proven to be a great motivation tool for me – as silly as it may be, I appreciate it when I post a sketch and get a digital round of applause (okay, likes) from a handful of people all over the world. While it’s easy to get caught up with social media envy and other negative traps, personally I’ve found that following the right people on the right networks can be so uplifting.