Social Media: A Friend Indeed

This essay is the winner of our Essay Writing Contest 2014

As I log onto Instagram, I view posts from friends I met at a business conference as they prepare for university and spend their last free summer exploring the world. I see people celebrating their friends on Woman Crush Wednesday and Man Crush Monday. Summer camp buddies share their exploration of the world, ranging from Colorado to Haiti. People commemorate their accomplishments and are congratulated in kind. Even without much discussion, I feel connected to people as they share their experiences, dreams, and achievements. With its amazing ability to link people from a variety of places in a variety of ways, social media allows a whole new level of association between people.

Never before in time has there such a connection between people and their friends. “Long ago” (or, the days before instant internet access), people would have to phone their friends to see if they could possibly hang out, or even walk to their friend’s house, not knowing if the trip was for naught, with the friend busy for whatever reason. Nowadays, plans can be made instantaneously, and friends can even share events such as broadcasted award shows and television episodes via text, Facebook chat, and Twitter. Never before has a friendship been so easy to foster. Even just exchanging a username with an unknown person in class can lead to a new friend in a few clicks of a button. Social media has made it easier to make friends and interact with them, whether the interaction is by way of the internet, a phone, or the classic visits to each other’s house, now made easy by texts and Facebook messages that will allow the friend to inform you that they are available.

Social media has also led to the development of friendships based on common interests. The mid-90s saw the development of public forums where people could discuss their interests, ranging from politics to anime, and build connections off of that. Nowadays, Facebook and Google groups, Tumblr, and the Twitter hashtag system allow people to discover others with similar interests from around the world. While not all of these connections may lead to a friendship, online friends can be as fulfilling as a “real-life” friendship, yet this friendship is also one that could not exist without social media. Social media provides for people with uncommon interests, or people who simply do not have friends that share common interests, to express their passion alongside others.

With the access to people around the globe that social media provides, it is not surprising to see increasing globalization as the younger generations, and even their tech-savvy parents, are introduced to new cultures, mindsets, and news and information that would be foreign and out-of-reach to them without the worldwide union social media provides. Even globalization relates back to friendships, allowing people from across the globe to develop long-lasting friendships. Although pen pals existed pre-social media, the development of new communication technologies allows for a quicker connection between people, fostering an even greater sense of friendship.

Some have said that social media makes people more self-centered; yet, it seems to be just the opposite. People are able to join with others in their triumphs, give them sympathy when needed, and share laughs. None of that seems self-centered. Perhaps it is the selfie craze or people making note of their accomplishments that makes people think this about social media. However, in the age where low self-esteem is prevalent among the younger demographics, I see social media as the cure, not the disease. Friends are able to compliment others for victories they might not otherwise be rewarded for. Even selfies, as trivial and stupid as some may view them, can help someone increase their self-esteem, especially if their friends “like” or retweet the photo. That’s worth something, and, if celebrating yourself and others is self-centered, I hope to see a lot more of it.

Social media allows people to live life and experience friendships to the fullest, whether it be by connecting people from around the globe, allowing people instant access to their friends, providing for the sharing of goals and achievements, and allowing us to view people we might ignore in a whole new light.

By Carol Scott

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