Last week, I wrote about how social media can overwhelm us, and how we can make it more manageable. But social media can also be a boon to us—and I’m not talking about marketing. Although many people complain about social media creating distance between people, social media can also create connection.
I initially realized this during the first 4 months of my daughter’s life, when I was a sleep-deprived new mom trapped in the house with a needy infant. The ability to reach the outside world and talk to actual real-live grownups saved my sanity. In many of the years since, this ability to have actual conversations with intelligent adults has made stay-at-home-momming bearable.
This past month brought home this connectedness even more powerfully. My father went through a health crisis. While of course my “real life” family and friends stood strong with me, I felt the need to reach beyond my physical circle. When I reached out to my Facebook friends, they responded with rafts of prayers and good thoughts for my father, for me, and for my family. Many of these people I have never met in person. Many of them are of different political or religious persuasions. Yet when I needed support, they came through for me.
I don’t think I am alone in having a Friends list populated by kind, generous, compassionate, and caring people. These wonderful people remind me that social media can be a force for good in the world. At a frightening time in my life, when tears came easily and my father’s life was precarious, these people reached out to me and sent love and support through cyberspace. Their brief messages of support, positivity, and encouragement helped bolster me.
So yes, while social media can be a distraction, it can also be a gift. To lonely and frightened people, social media can bring the message, “You matter. You are not alone.”
That’s a powerful message.
So the next time you get annoyed at a viral meme clogging your feed, remember that love and positivity can spread just as quickly. I want to thank every person who responded to my need for support in the past month—you will never know how much it meant to me.
Have you ever had a time where social media proved its positive power in your life?