Solidarity on social media?

Craig Shaaban

There may be a silver lining in social media. Credit: Sabrine Donohoe

For most millennials, it’s hard to remember a time when we played pinball or solitaire on the family computer that was packed tightly under the stairs.

Think about it, you’d arrive home from school, scoff down a vanilla muller corner and fly through your homework, in the hopes that your mother would let you create a masterpiece on Microsoft paint. Of course, this is a time where internet access was restricted to slow-family computers, and those lucky enough to have broadband at home could share all the love on Bebo.

We now live in a space where children are communicating through games such as Minecraft and Fortnite, single people are swiping right on dating apps to find a soulmate, and seemingly everyone has a twitter account that serves as a platform for people to express opinions and beliefs.

The exponential rise of social media in the last decade has truly had an enormous impact on society. Social affirmation seems to be achieved by accumulating likes, and status is held in higher regard than kindness and generosity. We’ve heard these arguments before, but it’s time to look at how social media can positively serve the world we live in.

Facebook support groups are a tremendous exhibition of the capacity people have for benevolence. From small congregations of those who feel underrepresented in mass media, to families of children born with disabilities looking for more information, these groups have been an invaluable resource.

Catriona Nolan, who is a Mother of two from West Dublin, expresses how Facebook groups helped her come to terms with her daughter’s cerebral palsy. “Seeing other men and women deal with what we’re going through made me feel like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Everyone shares stories of good and bad times and how they cope.

I’ve made some great friends from these pages and I can’t describe how important they were not only for my growth, but for my daughters too”, she said. Catriona’s daughter had life-changing surgery called SDR in 2015 and Catriona still blogs about her recovery to help other parents.

The birth of podcasts represents the thirst society has developed for greater knowledge. Spotify have just invested $500 million dollars into the industry and will create shows for educational, and entertainment purposes.

The simple act of listening to a conversation through headphones provides people with an instant sense of community. Imagine a truck driver delivering a package 500 miles away. It’s a lonely job, but podcasts let the driver become an observer of discussion on any topic they choose.

From molecular biology to bow-hunting to art, there is a show for every interest imaginable. Not only do they give a sense of being present in a conversation, but podcasts have given us more time to educate ourselves.

Though much of social media is dedicated to superficial extroverts, there is still a large proportion of it that are occupied by people who really want to help. You just have to know where to look.

Craig Shaaban

Image Credit: Sabrine Donohoe