I recently came across a blog post on the Dreaming Always blog, about the concept of Social Good, which is best described as using our social media platforms as a force for good. I don’t know Nessa and Leona of Dreaming Always personally, but I follow them on Instagram and admire their approach to blogging and social media and I really liked their take on using social media for good.
I spend a lot of time on social media, for both the Honest Project and my work. I follow all sorts of accounts, big and small, serious and lifestyle. I can count on my fingers and toes the number of accounts that I love to follow and the ones I check in on regularly. These are usually people who are either funny, creative or are passionate about something, or perhaps all three. They cover a mix of lifestyle, food, fashion, social and politics. But the one thing they all have in common is that they are not “sit on the fence” type accounts. They all use their social platforms and influence to promote social and political issues that they feel strongly about. They don’t hesitate to speak their minds about things that are important to them. When they do, they do so in a constructive and measured way, without drama or social media craziness (more about that in a minute), and most importantly they do so without bashing others. These accounts prove to me that it’s more than ok to mix content: to be passionate about beautiful clothes on the one hand, and on the other to be able to speak openly about your views on issues like the gender pay gap.
I’m in my thirties and have some huge life experiences behind me. While, I’m interested in clothes, in beauty products and in nice things; the overwhelming focus on social media on materialistic things and on people’s appearance is just not what I’m interested in. To never voice an opinion on anything remotely controversial just doesn’t seem real to me. I want to be able to talk about shoes, about recipes, about new restaurants, but I also want to be able to talk about serious social and political issues.
One reason I’m hesitant to talk online about serious issues is that sometimes conversations online can develop into full-on social media craziness. I once heard Twitter described as a mutual appreciation club and that when someone disrupts that club, that person is demonised and dehumanised in a way that would never happen face to face. We’ve all seen this type of behaviour on social media and people excusing it with phrases like they are “telling it like it is” or by self-appointing themselves as protectors of others, etc. None of these excuses offer people a free pass to tear apart others online. I’m sometimes afraid to voice my opinion, in case that happens to me.
Social media is high drama; things are either outrageous or amazing and I know I’m guilty of indulging in this language myself. Where is the measured in between? Do pictures need to be described this way to generate social currency. I mean who is going to comment on an Instagram picture of a mediocre face serum when they can comment on 100 Instagram images of “life-changing face serums”?!
When we disagree on Twitter, what often happens is just… WOW!! Social media craziness at its best. I see this happen all the time in relation to diet and food. Disagree on a particular diet and rather than it be a difference of opinion, you could soon find yourself cast as a villain or a fool in the eyes of many. Topics that should be capable of being the subject of constructive conversations on Twitter instead become the subject of full on battles between ideologies, where personal insults and abusive tweets are considered fair game.
The simplest solution is to be more selective with who I follow or to better express my own views on social media and to speak up about things I care about. Although weirdly, it’s sometimes hard to disengage from accounts that annoy you, following them is almost like social media self-harming. The reality is that social media isn’t a bubble or a way to escape the real world, social media is the real world and is fundamentally changing how we live our lives. So now the question is how do we choose to engage with it.
Let me know your thoughts and who your favourite social media accounts are the the moment... and PS - Dreaming Always is a great follow x