Stop Using Social Media as the Scapegoat for Society’s Demise

During the early morning hours of May 7, Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to help fans in need. Over the course of this dialogue, Minaj agreed to pay out an estimated $30,000 of her own money to help the fans in question afford their college tuition and school supplies. While many critics might be skeptical about the motive behind her random acts of philanthropy, it’s hard to ignore that Minaj’s generous soul would never have connected with these struggling individuals had it not been for social media.

Of course, it’s easy for people to focus on social media’s failings. It promotes narcissism. It’s an unyielding distraction. It hinders everyone’s attention span. However, along with the bad, we’ve been exposed to a world of good that outweighs any negative sentiment. We now have an outlet for connecting with people outside our immediate circle, allowing us to learn and grow in ways we never could have before its creation.

Thanks to Twitter (and the Web, in general), we have the opportunity to remain abreast of international news in real time. Yes, there’s an enormous amount of content to sift through at any given moment, but by adopting healthy social media habits, it’s simple to filter through what’s important and what’s frivolous fluff. You see, those who claim that social networks drain people’s time and ruin kids’ attention spans are those who’ve failed to master healthy social habits themselves. All good things must be consumed in moderation—even media. We may live in the era of the Netflix binge, but that doesn’t mean such behaviors are smart. When used properly, social media arms us with the tools necessary to dismantle widespread ignorance and hold public figures accountable. Social media acts as the weapon we need to effectively fight for what’s right.

Following the U.S. presidential election, for instance, voters quickly took to social media—in some cases to celebrate, in some cases to express their disbelief and anguish while establishing the foundation for what’s now known as The Resistance. Women came together via social to plan and execute the Women’s March on Washington, as well as its sister marches across the world. And organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, have turned to social media to mobilize supporters and bolster donations. Without such outlets, these groups never would’ve come together so quickly and effectively. Without social media, it would’ve been much more difficult for these like-minded activists to find one another and turn their mutual disgust into productive outreach.

Even in less extreme cases, social media has the potential to make people feel less alone. Prior to social networks, outcasts likely felt that there was no one else in the world who understood their struggle. But, by being able to express their emotions online, many have found support they might’ve otherwise gone without. Those with minor grievances can also take solace in social media, for the memes and comics that rule the space demonstrate we’re not as alone as we once thought. (No, you’re NOT the only one who feels that way!) Critics will argue that social media has the opposite effect, as Facebook and Instagram posts often make said outcasts feel even more out of the loop than before, but when you stop to evaluate the new connections at their fingertips, it’s easy to see that social empowers them to change their situation for the better.

Face it—bullies will never cease to exist. There’ll always be people who tear others down in order to make themselves feel superior, no matter their platform of choice. But it’s our responsibility to teach today’s children how to navigate these new networks. Our parents taught us how to handle the challenges that came along with growing up, and we’ll have to do the same. Kids still have to face the same battles, even if they’re fighting on uncharted battlefields. Remember! We’re the ones who created this supposed mess, so we’re the ones who will have to right the course. We will have to teach them how to limit their screen time. We will have to teach them how to be mindful of others online. We will have to teach them not to idolize the manipulated images and personas they see across platforms.

Parents and authority figures who believe social media has ruined today’s youth are merely projecting their own insecurities, for they exhibit these less than stellar behaviors themselves. They’re guilty of deifying the celebrities they follow, and checking their phones excessively. They’ve become addicted to refreshing their feeds and awaiting new notifications. Yet, each time another adult gives their child an iPad or smartphone as a stand-in for an actual caretaker, they perpetuate the very problem they wish to rectify. Unless we take responsibility for how we conduct ourselves, we will never be able to alter the issue at hand.

Until then, critics will continue to focus on social media’s failings and blame these networks for what’s wrong with the world. Social media isn’t without its flaws, of course, but we mustn’t overlook the value it brings to the modern world. As with any tool, social can be used for good or evil. Let’s remember what social media can help us accomplish—as was the case with Nicki Minaj—before we vilify these networks once and for all.

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(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

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The 12 Pains of Business

Businesspeople forget that business sense doesn’t always translate into common sense. From the commute to the conference room, every component of the workday can spark intense frustration.

But what are the worst elements within the professional realm? Which social sins endlessly plague the working world? Count with me, if you will…

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

  1. Reading Comprehension

Bloggers constantly provide tips on how to hit ‘Inbox Zero’ before lunchtime. But I think I may have the solution. It may not wipe the slate clean, but it’ll certainly tidy things up. Ready?

Read your messages carefully the first time!

For instance, when making an appointment, one person may respond with specific date and time restrictions. Acknowledge that you’ve read the message by suggesting blocks that respect those parameters. Not only will you eliminate headaches, but you’ll also look like you mastered those reading comprehension skills they teach in second grade.

  1. Laziness

Nearly everyone you need to talk to during the workday sits within a 20-foot radius, give or take. Instead of emailing or calling, walk over to them. Because there’s nothing more irritating than hearing both ends of someone’s conversation when you know the parties involved haven’t moved an inch.

You could probably use the exercise, anyway. Maybe your FitBit will reward you with a badge applauding the fact that you’re still alive.

  1. Transportation Delays

Commuters often rely on public transportation (i.e. the bus) to travel from Point A to Point B and back again. Yet, while I understand that there may be the occasional hold-up, stopping to chat with acquaintances that wave from the sidewalk shouldn’t interfere. Bus drivers already have to deal with rude passengers on their route, and obvious disregard for people’s time will only make matters worse.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

  1. High Heels

For some reason, women still feel pressured to wear high heels. Many do so because they like the way they look, of course, but society continues to demonstrate that motivations aren’t always just personal—sometimes it’s business. Women feel compelled to maintain a certain appearance, but it’s their health that’s at stake.

Plus, in many situations, women simply can’t walk in the high heels they’ve chosen, opening up an entirely different world of dangers. Why adhere to some archaic standard when it’s our bodies that’ll pay the ultimate price?

  1. Inferior Technology

Most companies insist on providing employees with subpar computers that reduce efficiency and productivity. But cutting corners isn’t always cost-effective, especially when the entire office must wait 10 minutes or more for their machines to warm up.

Invest in quality products that promise the longevity necessary to propel your business into the future. Providing the best technology demonstrates that you care about your employees, too, as it signals that you understand their struggle and wish to see them succeed.

  1. Mistakes

Industry standards evolve at breakneck speed now, so mistakes are inevitable. It doesn’t indicate that you’re uneducated. It simply means you’re human and can’t possibly know everything about everything.

However, how you respond to these mistakes can reveal plenty about your character. Many don’t know how to accept blame or admit errors. Instead, they point the finger at someone else. Own up to what you’ve done, no matter the severity, and learn from the consequences.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

  1. Disrespect

Respect results from the summation of many factors. But those that fail to respect people’s time have yet to master any form of the concept. Such disregard often comes from those in charge, for they neglect to acknowledge the time and effort that goes into the various tasks at hand.

Instead of pushing employees to the brink of madness—and losing some of your best talent in the process—allow them to speak freely and listen to their frustrations when they do. Using such feedback to inform changes will further validate how much you care for your employees, boosting satisfaction and retention.

  1. Snap Judgment

Many people dress to impress. Others dress to express. Regardless, it’s impossible to judge someone by what they’re wearing, yet we do so regularly. But it only takes one train ride to learn that those in suits often act rude and entitled, while those in plain clothes are usually the most friendly. You don’t always have to dress the best to be the best, so don’t let their stares get you down.

  1. Assumptions

Preconceived notions hinder progress. Millennials can attest to this fact. No matter how hard this demographic works to prove naysayers wrong, Baby Boomers dismiss these efforts by sticking to their assumptions. Not only does this sort of thinking stifle the next generation, but it also impedes growth within the business realm. Don’t assess employees based on what you think you know. Base your evaluation on their performance alone.

  1. Jargon

Many talk in circles, using terms that nobody understands. Leaders pack sentences with buzzword after buzzword in an attempt to sound like they’re in step with what’s happening in their industry. Ultimately, however, it’s not how you convey your message; it’s what you share that’ll prove your expertise.

  1. Social Media

    Source: istockphoto

    Source: Getty Images

Quit obsessing over social media metrics! When you stop to consider how many companies are vying for the same audience’s attention, it’s easy to see that loyalty must be rooted in an effort to promote quality and consistency. If you constantly offer followers content that’s trustworthy and informative, they’ll return time and time again.

  1. Social Gatherings

Many companies try to force coworkers to bond by planning social gatherings that are supposed to promote togetherness. However, most fail to recognize that, for some, such situations have the opposite effect. For many, it’s downright uncomfortable. But, if you skip one too many of these get-togethers, people chastise you for your “anti-social” behavior.

Once again, people need to pause and look at the situation from the other person’s perspective. Perhaps if we did so more often, we’d improve our collective willingness to listen to and understand those who aren’t exactly like us.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock