There is no doubt that social media has changed the way we communicate, and the way we live. From business transactions to romantic connections and everything in between, social media defines this generation.
Many of us can remember the early days of Yahoo Messenger. It was such a thrill to enter a chat room and start a conversation with a potential new friend from nearly anywhere in the world. “ASL” and just like that, we would begin the journey of getting to know someone we’d never met and probably never would.
My roommate in university once made a really good friend in a Christian chat room on Yahoo Messenger. They bonded over their love of music, and he sent her a couple of newly released CDs – Kristy Starling and Across The Sky’s debut albums. Every time I listen to those songs now, I wonder what happened to their friendship.
“People are not icons, avatars and emojis. They are flesh and blood. Discover them!”
Today, we no longer have those chat rooms, but more than ever before the possibilities for connection across the continents are endless. And the truth of the matter is that the people who really make the most of social media are those who establish relationships on these apps, and proceed to nurture them away from that platform. As my friend Johnson Abbaly puts it, “Plan to convert your interactions and engagements into real life meets. People are not icons, avatars and emojis. They are flesh and blood. Discover them!”
Some take this slowly— email, then Whatsapp, then calls, and finally face to face meetings. Others just go from social media to hanging out. Regardless of the speed and order of progression, social media enriches your life the most when you use it as a springboard for authentic real life connections.
And this principle doesn’t apply to business partnerships and personal relationships alone. It also applies to causes and movements that begin on social media. The innovators can only truly give them life when offline work follows.
Even those who begin good things offline can benefit from social media. It cannot replace real change which happens on the streets, but they can use it as an amplifier.
It depends on “You”
This generation may appear obsessed with social media, but does this mean it is destructive? No. Social media breaks are common now; even in this Lenten season many have chosen to give up their Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and whatever else has proven to be an addiction or a distraction. It is true that many people can achieve more if they get off social media and focus more on real life.
Yet this does not make social media any more evil than say, a phone. Phones are necessities now but if you spend hours talking to your new love interest it can be a distraction. For some people, attending events means food, drinks and new sex partners while for others, it’s an opportunity to exchange business cards and expand their network.
The same applies to social media: if you use it properly it can amplify your offline efforts, and it can open you up to amazing relationships that will enrich your life.
If instead of using social media strategically as a means to an end, you make it the be all and end all, you end up wasting huge amounts of time daily, and ultimately wasting yourself — because we cannot truly waste time.
Social media working for you
As an editor, 99% of my clients find me through social media, and referrals from existing clients who first connected with me on social media. As a writer, my career really took off on social media nearly a decade ago. Some of the most valuable relationships I have in my life today, started on social media. Even the side hustle that has recently stolen my heart can be traced back to social media.
If you’re spending your time on social media, it should be adding value to your life, increasing your knowledge, building your personal brand, and boosting your income. If you’re just aimlessly amassing followers, retweets and likes, I recommend you fix that. And you can start now.
Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at] yahoo.com