Keenan Blog

Is Social Media Good or Bad?

September 16, 2020

We live in a world where Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok have replaced telephones, written letters, TV and other forms of entertainment. This is just a sign of evolving times. However, I often wonder…is social media good or bad?

When I started using social media, I became fascinated with how quickly I could connect and re-establish old friendships. Whether it was reminiscing about old high school days or regularly seeing my family from afar, there truly are great aspects of social media.

As a father to three teenage girls, I’ve seen firsthand how important social media is in their lives. They “snap” to communicate, use IG to post pictures and TikTok is their new form of exercise. Clearly, I’m still a social media novice because I’m often scolded for grabbing food too early before they take the appropriate photo of their meal to post to their channels.

Likes, comments and retweets are social currency or gratification, one receives for a post. I know this, because my daughter told me the exact time she needed to post to maximize her likes. Did you know the best times to post on Instagram are lunchtime (11am – 1pm) and evenings (7pm – 9pm), however, the best hours to post on TikTok are early mornings (7am – 9am) and then later in the afternoon (3pm – 10pm)? Now, I can rationalize this and say this is no different than advertising to reach your audience, however, the difference is advertisers do this for capitalistic reasons and most on social media do it for personal gratification reasons. It made me think. If she posts and receives 10 likes versus 1,000, does she feel more or less validated? I know that’s not true, but this led me to ponder the question…Is social media good or bad?

The answer really depends upon how one uses it. Social media can create very positive dopamine experiences that make one “feel alive”, but social media can also create negative experiences that lead to severe depression. This is not just a hypothesis; I have seen it affect my own family. The negative impact of social media has also been highlighted in recent research. In fact, a new study published in the “Journal of Depression and Anxiety” found that people who used social media the most were about 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than those who used social media the least.

My experience with social media has taught me so much. One of my most impactful learnings was a series of questions that became the genesis for me writing this article.

  • How do you use social media?
  • Why is social media important or not important to you?
  • How do you feel after you use social media?
  • How do you think social media has impacted any issues you are having?
  • What do you do when social media makes you feel bad?
  • Are you impacted by how many likes, comments or followers you have?

I encourage everyone reading this to honestly answer these questions on how social media is influencing your mindset. I hope you will discuss these questions with your kids, spouse, friends or anyone else using social media. Social media isn’t going away. If anything, it will become more prevalent over time. That’s why having conversations about this are so important. I hope you find these questions thought provoking and helpful to begin dialogue on a very critical issue confronting our society.

About John Stephens
John Stephens has been in the insurance and risk management industry for more than 20 years and currently runs Keenan's Public Agency Property & Casualty Practice.