Yifeng Wang

And Yes, Social Media Does Work

Does social media actually work? The answer depends on what you consider social media’s job (besides making money) is. For me, one important job for social media is helping people stay connected with their friends. And yes, social media does that job quite well.

The most basic action that you might take on almost all kinds of social media is posting. You go on social sites to post things, things about yourself. They can be words, photos, videos, or links—all kinds of stuff. What you post keeps friend updated about you, the current you. Via social media, your friends get to know about your new haircut, your new baby dog, the crazy party that you went to last Friday night, the song that you are insane about recently, the new movie that you went to theatre for and considered a total waste of two hours, and the Europe traveling you are planning on...

But why is it so important to tell your friends something about you? Or why would they give a heck about my crap, you might ask. They will, because they are your friends and they do give a heck about you. You meet friends in different life stages—high school, college, different jobs, and so on. But you and some of yours friend might be lack of topics to talk about after a while not seeing each other, and gradually you are less of friends. You don’t want this to happen; you try to make things like you were still living together (just like in school). So you call your friends, text them, and email them. But still, gradually, you don’t know what to call about, to text about, or to email about. Soon, you know less and less about your friends, and so do them. Sure you can just let things go and maybe cut these friends out eventually. But what if you don’t want to? What if some of them you treasure too much to lose? And of course there are some. That’s why you were trying to do all those calling, texting, and emailing in the first place. As you can see, keeping your friends informed via call, text, or email is something really hard (and almost impossible) to do in the long run. You need to know your friends enough to keep those phone calls going. But you don’t. You don’t know what happened to them recently. Social media helps solve this problem (not entirely, but still).

Besides, traditional methods require you and your friends to be involved at the same time. However, your friends don’t usually have free time when you want to call them. Social media, on the other hand, can be used by you and your friends at different time. You post a photo of your new baby dog while you’re walking him in the sunset, and your friends can see it and maybe reply to (or comment on) during their tea break the next day. To some degree, traditional methods are instant while social media is idle.

People used to lose friends because of losing connections. But with the development of modern technology, what happened doesn’t necessarily have to happen again.