Social Media Gets a Bad Rap but Can it Make Us Care?

Social media gets a bad rap, but can it make us care 2
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Do you find your Facebook news feed goes through cycles? One day it’s all about an Awards ceremony, the next it’s full of parents asking if their kids’ schools are closed, the next it’s rappers and bands talking about their next release. And at times, it just seems to clog up with people ranting and throwing abuse. It happens on Twitter as well – I’m not “Generation Z” enough to know about Instagram, Pinterest and WhatsApp , although a little bird tells me that WhatsApp is a favourite of politicians… so they must be pretty down with the kids, no?

All we seem to hear about in the news is the “anti-social” bit of the cycle – yeah, I get the irony, “anti-social social media!”. The hate-filled outbursts, just for sharing a view. The way people post abuse like they’re back in the schoolyard with no teachers around. Oh, and the way everyone’s “perfect” lives can make us feel useless.

social media bad

But do we over-stress the dark side of the social media cycle? Can these global, personal connections work for good? I never thought I’d say this, but can Facebook make us care?

A case in point: the other month it was hip-hop and rap day all over social media – just about every artist you can think of dropping beats like they’d got to check-in and their bags were overweight. But, it meant I came across a guy called Illtalian. Born in Hawaii, his dad’s Italian and his mum’s Filipino. He had a mean single out – come on, who wouldn’t be drawn in by the first lyrics, spit over the mic: “Yo J – we killed a man, let’s do this!”
And this from someone swore blind was Christian!

I was intrigued. Give it a listen…

…and now you’re back, not bad is it? You can find him all over social media @theilltalian.

Anyway, I got chatting to Illtalian online – and when he dropped his next single, R.A.N, he passed it my way for airplay on the #StandoutShow. I was pretty chuffed – it’s not that common for artists to treat us fans as friends, is it? (Ah, go on, name-drop away then! Who did you meet last week?).

So that Saturday in January when we heard Hawaii had sounded the “incoming missile” alert, at the height of tensions between President Trump and North Korea, it felt like a lead balloon in my stomach. This could mean a nuke landing on someone I knew. Destroying someone I’d been chatting to online just the other day. His family. His town. His nation.

hawaii missile alert
The alert message Hawaiians saw on their phones

Of course, the alert was a mistake. And of course we all sighed in relief. But I was shocked how much I’d cared about the crisis. Maybe you’re better at connecting fully and emotionally with stuff that’s happening the other side of the world. But it made me realise that when I know people as individuals, when I can put a face to a place and a story, suddenly it’s somehow more real. t was as if social media – the good side of it – had actually made me care!

Over to you

I’d love to hear your experience. Is social media inherently bad or can it be a force for good? Tell us in the comments below.

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