Most of us use social media.
According to the Pew Research Center, 64% of U.S. adults use Facebook.
That number is even higher for college students— 95%.
Most of us may use it to keep touch with our friends, sharing funny pictures and videos, and posting things to show the world how cool we are. But, social media has a lot of “constructive” uses too.
It makes me read
Now, you’ve probably heard this before. It’s because it’s very true— one of the best ways to become “smarter” is by reading.
Traditionally, I have known this to mean that you should habitually read a lot of books. However, I don’t think this is the case.
I read all the time. I read every single day. Now, I can’t tell you the last time I read a whole book cover-to-cover. The truth is although I try my best to read books, I honestly have a hard time staying consistent. Either I lose interest, or I get busy with something else and then find it hard to go back to the book. It probably has a lot to do with my ADHD, but that isn’t important.
The point is I still read everyday. What am I reading, you ask? Blogs. Forum posts. FACEBOOK POSTS.
Yeah, you heard me right— Facebook posts.
I know it may seem a little irresponsible of me to suggest that spending hours on Facebook will have the same positive effect on your critical thinking and comprehension skills as reading books or newspapers. But that isn’t what I’m saying. Of course I’m not talking about my friends’ posts about how they are sick of studying for their test and can’t wait to “turnup #yolo”, my cousin’s posts about the new world order, or the endless meme pages.
I’ve read essays on Facebook. Op-ed pieces on Facebook. Greatly constructed arguments on Facebook. Really interesting facts on Facebook. You name it.
Every single person-of-note and influential website, organization, etc has a Facebook page. Facebook has become, essentially, the springboard from which to discover information on the internet.
It Keeps Me Informed
Although people like to chastise the use of social media as collectively “dumbing down the masses”, it really isn’t true in such a blanket sense. Considering Facebook is the second most visited website in the world, traditional media has had to shift accordingly. I’ve probably received over 70% of my news on Facebook. I’ve read essays on Facebook. Op-ed pieces on Facebook. You name it.
I’m not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 30% of the general population receive their news through Facebook.
It Makes Me Think Critically
I know my close friends would probably say that it is a bad habit of mine, but I tend to get in a lot of Facebook “debates”. I’m sure they’d probably appreciate it if I wasn’t furiously typing away at my phone while they were trying to talk to me— but I definitely don’t believe it to be as much of a “waste of time” as I’m told it is.
While not everyone I argue with on Facebook makes very good points (we’ve all come across those people who just restate their opinions blindly without actually trying to make valid arguments), It still engages me to think critically and formulate my opinions. I don’t know about you all, but I tend to not like to argue with my friends— especially not in person. In-person arguments/debates tend to devolve into who can talk faster or louder quickly. This is something that is avoided through debating on social media— most of the time, I don’t even know the person I’m arguing with. Also, forcing each party to fully form and write down their points serves for a much better-paced back-and-forth discussion.
So, next time someone complains to you about “kids these days” spending “all their time on facebook”, just let them know— “well, it actually makes you smarter”! 😉
Talk to you later, Renegades!