Not that long ago, I decided to track my screen time to get an overview of how much time I spend on social media. It struck me for how long I use certain apps such as Facebook and Whatsapp, but I quickly realized that it was all for a good reason.
We live in a world where various social media platforms are constantly surrounding us. Social media was phenomenal when it first started off with the purpose of reconnecting people from the past or from a distance. Later on, these platforms started to get criticism for replacing real life conversations and doing the opposite of its intended role. However, I would say this is only partially true.
Moving to Manchester from Egypt almost four years ago to start university, I struggled to connect with my family due to the expenses of international phone calls and text messages. It costs a fortune to make an international call to or from Egypt as telecommunication companies charge these calls according to their international roaming service. Being in this situation, and not being a millionaire, Whatsapp and Facebook messenger came to my rescue. Through these platforms I was, and am still able, to send unlimited free text messages, speak for hours with minimum cost and be able to video call and see my parents at whatever time I prefer. Although studies criticise the amount of time people spend on social media but a study in 2011 done by the Pew Research centre showed that roughly 67% of social media users stay in touch with their family members and international friends through these sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp. These statistics highlight the importance of the role of various social media platforms in our everyday lives.
Other than connecting with family and friends, social media is also the easiest and most recent way to make lifetime friendships. Whether you are an introvert, or an extrovert, social media platforms allow people to connect to others who share common interests or hobbies through just a click. Nowadays many friendships or even relationships begins with a message on Facebook or other platforms. Moreover, a couple of years ago these kind of friendships may have seemed weird or untrue but through the years it has become more normal and accepted to meet new friends through online platforms. Social media is also a cheap method to travel the world virtually and get to know new cultures and traditions without leaving the house.
Perhaps the countless social media platforms have rapidly transformed the world in which we live and the way we connect with others. But it has surely had a positive impact on our everyday life by helping us to connect with people miles away, helping us feel a little less homesick.