Surely we’re all aware of the possible dangers to be faced when making friends through social media, and yes, whist things such as ‘catfishing’ and ‘grooming’ are very much a problem, should we not also consider the many (yes, many) positive aspects that come with being part of a community on social media? Now is the time to start.
The safety of social media is a prevalent topic of concern within our society today. Parents are advised to keep track of what their children are doing on social media, as well as who they are talking to. It is likely that if a parent were to see their child talking to ‘strangers’ on social media, they would immediately do everything they could to stop this from happening. This is – in some cases – a sensible action to take, however, what if by doing this, that parent had just prevented a life-long friendship from forming? Of course, the dangers that come with making friends on social media can be extremely harmful, but we must not let this completely obstruct our thoughts and forget the fact that for some people, social media can be used as a platform through which confidence is boosted as well as other positive outcomes.
Georgia Burchell and Harriet Minns are two young adults from London. Around two years ago, their passions for Eurovision formed an incredible friendship between them when they met through Twitter. In an interview with them both, Harriet told me, “I definitely agree that Twitter is an amazing platform to unite people from all over the world. I’m lucky to have met great people and made great memories. I think Twitter’s good if you have rarer interests, because you can’t always find people with the same interests in real life, so Twitter can expose you to all these new people with that same interest”.
“Especially when we’re talking about the Eurovision community”, Georgia added, “Because it isn’t common to be a Eurovision fan and I always felt weird for liking it so much. So going on twitter and seeing that other people liked it too made me feel a bit more normal as I’d finally found people that I fitted in with, especially because I didn’t have many friends growing up .”
‘What about cyber bullying in this Twitter community?’ you may ask, Harriet explained, “Of course, people can sometimes argue about their differences in opinions, but at the same time if you’re just nice to people then you’ve really got nothing to worry about. Also, encountering these people has definitely broadened my knowledge of different cultures” she continued, “I notice it through my brother – he doesn’t have social media and he has much less of an awareness of the wider world. Whereas I think on social media you see people’s lives from really different perspectives and things that you wouldn’t normally encounter in your everyday life. You can have a really good in depth conversation with them about their cultures and they’re interested in yours as well, it’s really special.”
“I definitely think that people don’t talk enough about the positive aspects of these communities”, Georgia stated. “When you’re growing up on social media, a lot of stuff just comes naturally to you – in a way that you could never teach an adult who hasn’t grown up with it like we have. Obviously these platforms can be unsafe but when you grow up with it, you learn to be more vigilant and it leads to being able to meet genuine new friends. Adults just don’t really understand that, and it gets a bad reputation because of all the negative stories that make the news but I genuinely think it can be a really good thing”.
To conclude the interview, Harriet told me how she thinks Twitter has impacted her life, “I think I would be a lot more unhappy. I’m really grateful to have Georgia in my life because, due to my anxiety, travelling was something I’ve had a lot of trouble with. So it’s amazing to have faced and slightly overcome that with such a wonderful understanding best friend and she has definitely helped me become a better person. I don’t know where my life would be without twitter, it’s helped in so many aspects of my life”.
Article written by Dina Motashaw