The Merits of Social Media

Some people think Social Media is a waste of time. Scrolling through Facebook posts of funny cat videos and baby pictures, reading blurbs about what this person ate for dinner or what that person watched on TV. It’s true, it can certainly be viewed as a waste of time. But as humans – busy humans with whirlwind lives and overwhelming demands – don’t we sometimes need a break to just sit quietly and waste time before jumping back into the grind or winding down for bed? Sure, every parent or grandparent thinks their child is the most beautiful, special, awesome child in the world, and do we really need to see pictures of them from every angle, in every outfit, every day? And nobody really cares what anyone else ate for dinner. But seeing a picture of a mother holding her baby, her eyes filled with unconditional love, or laughing at silly cat videos, or reading some humorous quip about the absurdities of life, those things bring us some much-needed respite from a world filled with tragedy and horror. It’s our comic relief, the modern-day equivalent of the cartoons in the newspaper.

There are also posts that are interesting and thought-provoking. They make us consider things we may not have considered otherwise. And educational posts – articles on medical breakthroughs, household hacks to fix clogged sinks and banish blemishes and chase away the creepy crawlies. Surely these can’t be labelled a waste of time, not if we’re opening ourselves up to learning something, be it a quick fix for an annoying problem or a new way of thinking about something.

But then there are the people who use Facebook and other social media sites as a diary. Some find it disturbing, that anyone would tell the world about their personal problems, air their dirty laundry as it were, be it relationship woes, or health issues or whatever struggles they’re facing. I think these people must be very lonely. They are reaching out to the entire world, desperate for some understanding or interaction, or even just a modicum of co-misery. If responding compassionately to such posts allows people in need to feel connected, isn’t that the most worthwhile waste of time of all?