Many of us are expert at using social media to pass time and relieve boredom. We reach for our phones and scroll through our feeds, read silly posts, watch humorous videos, catch up on celebrity gossip, and let our minds go numb for a minute. An hour later, we feel guilty as hell knowing we’ve wasted precious time we could have used more productively.
When we are being kind to ourselves, however, social media can be a fountain of goodies that enrich our lives. Time on these channels gives our brains a rest, our hearts a quick laugh and our minds often much needed stimulation. Facebook can be trivial and banal. But it’s also informative and inspirational.
When we are mindful we share the best of Facebook with others. We use what we find there to help us connect and communicate with those in our circles. Such actions help to build our sense of self and perform a service to those we love and cherish.
Twitter without Trump can be a great place to share your thoughts and get your news if you follow various media. If you have little time to read, Twitter’s limited headlines may be just what you need though you may miss context and nuance.
Twitter is also a great way to stay up to date on the social/cultural landscape, and helps you know what’s on people’s minds and even why they care. You get their take on current issues in the news, and you can join enlightening discussions and engage others. Sometimes you learn something, other times it’s just a chance to vent.
Instagram is really about pictures, and now videos, and is used for different reasons by people and institutions. Many causes have capitalized on this visual channel to get people’s attention and share the realities of situations around the world. It helps that a picture (or gif) is worth a thousand words.
Instagram is a great way to travel while sitting on your couch. Travel accounts post beautiful pictures from countries you may never visit. Photographers are also savvy about how they use Instagram, and that opens new worlds for users who get a chance to be embedded photographically in distant cultures.
Social media can be productive in another useful way: subscribing to online petitions. This a relatively easy way to make a difference in your country or around the world. An email inbox filled with petitions and life-changing causes, not just shopping discounts and deals, is rewarding for our moral compass.
Despite getting a bad rep as a time wasting medium, social media clearly has an important place in our lives today. Used smartly these channels can enhance our reality instead of distract us.