Two people shaking hands through a laptop screen symbolizing that social media has to change and allow more human contact.
We have never been more present on social media, yet we've never been more socially disconnected. We try so hard to get others to know us using available social media tools. At the same time, it feels that we sink into obscurity with every passing day. Do we need to do something differently, or social media has to change its ways? The truth is out there and likely in the answer to both of these questions.

We have never been more present on social media, yet we’ve never been more socially disconnected. We try so hard to get others to know us using available social media tools. At the same time, it feels that we sink into obscurity with every passing day. Do we need to do something differently, or social media has to change its ways? The truth is out there and likely in the answer to both of these questions.

Are we shaped by our product?

We, the millennials, should be honest – we were unprepared for social media. We were just stepping out of our teen years when the platforms hit the world by storm. Caught in this maelstrom with all our peers, we couldn’t hope to use the platforms maturely or wisely. Perhaps now we know better.

Are two decades enough to look back and comprehend how much social media has changed itself and us alongside it? And most importantly: how much social media has to change to become what it’s supposed to be? Our experience with it should suffice, but we need to want to make things right.

Understanding the illness is the first step to curing it

We’re witnessing trials, controversies, and an annoying amount of ads and sponsored content shared on various online channels. If only we could do something about it. To make a meaningful change and turn social media into a tool helping people socialize, we need to be less passive as individuals and as a society. The first step is to understand how social media abuses us and divides us instead of trying to do the opposite. And then replace this unhealthy pattern with a nourishing one.

To make things right again, in this case, we need to remember how being healthy feels. Making social media platforms helpful for users again means reminding everybody what they came looking for in the first place. The only good social media platform is the one that fulfills its purpose. Connecting people so they can evolve their friendships in real life is a true accomplishment. Such a platform would not need to worry about becoming obsolete. Until the cure is made, people should know that it is attainable.

If it doesn’t work, let’s fix it

The current social media platforms are evolving, and new ones are popping up all the time. It means only one thing: we’re feeding them well. But is that in the best interest of people who want to keep their long-distance friendships alive? Or are those friendships left to starve on 0% quality content and an ad-rich diet?

Fixing, or better yet, reshaping this scheme that works for everybody else involved except the users and building human-oriented social media is possible. It requires investing every little bit (or byte) of your being into growing meaningful connections instead of giving yourself away as a free resource for someone else to manipulate and exploit. These connections do not exclude social activism or volunteering that can lead to a positive shift in how we perceive social media and how it perceives us. On the contrary.

Money spins the social media world

Mostly everything that is offered for free has a string attached, and in the case of social media platforms, the string is called data-brokering. The fact that using social media platforms is free ties us stronger to them than if we needed to pay to join. There’s nothing sweeter than free stuff, and the sentiment, unfortunately, goes both ways. However, you can turn social media platforms to your advantage.

Connect with like-minded enthusiasts all over the world via a social media app and arrange for a real-life meeting. If you have a WordPress website, you can embed Facebook profile into your site and allow your online friends to find, know, and connect to the real you. Take what little the platforms can give you and turn it into something meaningful. Get back control over your life and the information you give away – choose who deserves your attention and warrants to be a part of your circle of important people.

Every change starts with us

There’s no other way around this. If you want to change something in the world, you have to plant the seed of change and water it regularly. Unless you’re satisfied with the way social media works today, you have options. Either you’ll delete your accounts and live a fulfilled analog life among your current buddies, or you’ll go the extra mile.

After all, there’s nothing wrong with finding friends online. We’d be fools to ignore the benefits of networking over the world wide web. But we would be even greater fools to take everything offered online for granted, including social media platforms. True, social media is imperfect, but obviously, so is our attitude toward it.

We’re responsible for getting social media on the right path

It seems that we were too lenient, allowing the social media world to grow wild. Instead of connecting us, it is dividing us. Rather than bringing us together, it is pulling us apart. Sharing meaningful moments became a market game, mentally and emotionally depriving people instead of enriching them. If this is not the reason why social media has to change, then we need to ask ourselves if our leniency borders irresponsibility. It is one thing to be manipulated due to ignorance and another entirely to consciously allow to be manipulated.

Social media should hold on to its noble role – using technological advancement to bridge the social gaps. While mending centuries of divisions is impossible to accomplish in a few short decades, deepening those holes through economically-oriented social media certainly won’t help. Being born into the world of social media platforms perhaps excuses today’s children, but not their parents. As those who know the meaning and importance of true, real-life friendships, we’re responsible for teaching them to our children. And for teaching social media platforms a lesson, too.

Anthony Bartollo is a part-time teacher and a full-time blogger. He is grateful for every opportunity to make a difference and empower the people around him. Although he considers himself successful, learning to get up early is and will forever stay beyond him.