Georgia; Marietta — When we hear social media, usually, what comes to mind is posting and uploading pictures of family, friends, and fun times. I immediately picture networking and compelling messaging.
Social media is a powerful tool. Presumably, many young people ages 14 to 25 realize how helpful the platforms are for professional and personal use. Statistics show that teenagers and adolescents have mental illnesses from those who spend three hours scrolling through social media. Mental illnesses among young adolescents and teenagers are depression and anxiety disorders. Whether social media is to blame for mental health issues or whether users are responsible for monitoring how and when they use social media is debatable.
Even though social media can be viewed as both a positive and a harmful component depending on a user's perspective, it is still a powerful tool where users can establish lasting professional and personal relationships. I use my social media, Linkedin and Instagram, to advocate for specific causes and encourage people to get civically involved.
I entered the Instagram world in September 2018 during my high school sophomore year. Creating social media ever since I was younger, I recall witnessing my peers getting their accounts formed at such young ages before peaking in high school. I pleaded with my parents to allow me to do the same, but fortunately, they had me wait until high school. Waiting until high school to create an Instagram account made me consider why I should have social media.
Since using social media, I have built lasting connections with Wendy Starland (discovered Lady Gaga), Trinity Rose, New York Times Author Harlan Cohen, and Gina Rodriguez, who gave me a shout-out at age 16 for encouraging people to vote for Georgia's 2018 governor campaign. The following individuals are influential individuals I have met through social media and have sincerely connected with to demonstrate that anything is possible if one knows how to leverage these platforms for networking and does not shy away from being authentic.
My social media purpose from the start was to use it as a platform to demonstrate community involvement and empower users to discover their potential and then pursue it by getting involved and putting their passion into existence. Social media has enabled me to organize and mobilize around voting and immigration rights and demonstrate how to be more than words. In addition to showcasing their involvement within the community, users can post content that encourages others to become involved and provides instructions for how to do so.
Consistent posting and engaging with others is critical to growing an account. It takes more than effort to build a platform but also requires patience and a focus on one's actions instead of the actions of others. Therefore, before pressing “Create an Account,” I encourage those young folks to think about their intentions and goals for setting up an account. That way, people can use social media with a purpose and inspire those around them to do the same.
Ashleigh Ewald (she/her/hers) is a Georgia-based journalist who attends Oglethorpe University. Follow her on IG: @ashleighewaldofficial.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett