Opinion: Social media as a responsible community building tool

Opinion: Social media as a responsible community building tool

Technology has given people access to things that were once only possible in their dreams. Once we wondered what truly went on in the life of a celebrity. Now, thanks to Twitter, that problem has been solved. If people needed to transfer money on the spot, they couldn’t. Now we have eDeposits thanks to smartphones.

With all this power, there are two issues to address: how can engaging with social media provide a better sense of community, and where is the point at which technology consumes our humanity? Using social media properly can help increase the quality of real relationships.

If you own a smartphone, you’ve probably been accused of being unable to put it down at least once. The capabilities a smartphone gives you can be mesmerizing, and if you aren’t careful, it can control you.

As with most problems, the answer lies in finding the perfect balance. Facebook, Twitter and many other social platforms offer countless ways to connect and share in experiences with the community.

On Facebook, the focus is more on detailed content. This means that you can get a lot more depth from being friends with someone or liking a page. There is enough potential information to fill the introduction of a biography, and you can use these materials to build a conversation.

Twitter managed to scale down the content to bite-sized pieces that people love to gobble up. It’s all about what is trending in your area and the hashtags that sum up a movement. It’s a great opportunity to see what is new, but you’ve got to put in some extra effort to find out what it means.

Engagement with content determines how productive social media is. If the purpose is just to check in with friends, then you’ve effectively cut out the need to have text messaging, but that’s about it. When you put your heart and ideals out on social media is when you will get the most out of it.

Whichever site you are on, each interaction should be made with many considerations. The biggest of these should be how the post reflects you as a person. People can glean many insights from anything you post or share. Sometimes people use posts as subtle, valuable messages. But there isn’t really value in telling the world who your latest #mancrushmonday is.

Both Twitter and Facebook provide opportunities to build our existing relationships and even foster new relationships. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends who don’t live in your area. Whether it’s a personal message or a public post, social media is always a nice reminder of those people in your life.

However, just limiting interactions to social media won’t provide a sense of fulfillment. It’s a great place to get started, but for full relationships, you’ve got to commit the time and effort that meeting face-to-face requires. Relationships shouldn’t stop at social media interaction.

Sometimes we misuse social media by thinking of it as the main platform for our conversations. If something is shared but no one engages with it, it can almost have a negative impact on our relationships.

For example, if you share a video you think is funny but never ask your friends what they thought of it, the act of “sharing” isn’t really sharing anymore. If we rely on social media, we can become very insecure.