Social media impact is both good and bad

Social media has changed the world. It has changed how we interact with each other, how we get our news, how we market products, how we learn things, how we spend our time and so on. It has sparked the creation of new words (think ?selfie? and ?hashtag?) and new jobs.

Since social media has had such an impact, there are obviously some positive things about it.

To collect more insight for this column, I asked my friends on my own social media accounts to answer how social media has affected them. A few people mentioned the positive connection social media allows them to have with friends and family from all over the U.S. and the world.

Using sites like Facebook and Skype, I am able to keep in pretty regular communication with my friend Laura, who was a foreign exchange student from Germany a few years ago and is currently living in Italy.

Social media has made long-distance friendships like this possible and that?s such an amazing thing. Family members can stay connected even when they?re miles apart. Saying ?goodbye? no longer has to be so final.

There are many other advantages it offers for both businesses and individuals.

On the flip side, though, social media has prompted many new challenges to take root in our culture and in our lives.

Another common response to my question of how social media has affected our lives was that it has caused a lot of procrastination and time wasting. Every column I write and every assignment I complete takes so much longer than necessary because I stop periodically to check Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

In fact, I just wasted a good half hour that I could?ve spent writing this column watching YouTube videos of people falling on ice (I got a good laugh out of it, though).

As social media users, we have to be so conscious of our time, especially when it comes to sites like Pinterest, where it?s easy to spend hours scrolling through pin after pin. Sometimes I?ll get on Facebook for a quick check and end up spending at least 15 minutes reading through a ?20 Things You Didn?t Know About Full House? article that Facebook strategically placed on my timeline.

Besides increased procrastination, social media has led to another emerging issue that I have noticed. It seems that often in today?s culture, photos of people, events, places and things have become more important than the actual people, events, places and things. I?m just as guilty of this as any other girl with an Instagram account. Vacations, celebrations and fun times are now thoroughly documented in filtered photos, which I honestly think is a great thing since I love pictures.

However, it can become consuming. On my Europe trip this summer, I often caught myself being so concerned with getting an artistic, unique shot of Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum that I would forget to step back and really take in the sight before me. Our ?human-life? has to take priority over our ?Instagram-life.?

So the question ultimately becomes: How do we use social media as the extremely positive tool it has the potential to be? I think there is a Bible verse that, with a slightly modified interpretation, can answer this question pretty well.

Philippians 4:8 says, ?Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable?if anything is excellent or praiseworthy?think (and post) about such things.?

If we apply the guidelines mentioned in this verse to social media, it would result in less bullying and more encouragement, fewer lies and more truth and fewer challenges and more opportunities. Social media has changed the world, so let?s use it to change the world, too.