Probably most people think that spending a great deal of time on the social media is frivolous, and amounts to wasted time that brings little or no benefit to the user. However, a body of research is emerging which suggests that using the social media may actually help people increase their talents and develop certain skills which are very useful, both on-the-job and socially. In this discussion, we will review some of the ways that social media can actually help people develop skills that they might otherwise not have had.
Social media blogs, websites, and virtually all content on the Internet has been written by professionals who are at least somewhat qualified to write. By spending time reading some well-written blogs and other Internet content, people can actually improve their own writing skills by closely observing good sentence structure, grammar, and even good diction used by professional writers. In the same way that people used to be able to improve their reading and writing skills by reading books, people are now unconsciously improving their writing skills by reading what has been written by others on the Internet.
This kind of reading also fosters better critical thinking in readers, especially when they become highly engaged with the content they’re reading. This is especially true among students, who probably represent the greatest percentage of social media users in the first place, since much of the reading they do outside the classroom comes from reading Internet content and the social media.
One of the specific ways that writing can be improved by frequent use of the social media is in self-editing to meet a word count. Most of the social media have a specific word count which is allowable in posts, and that means any ideas have to be communicated concisely and briefly. This gives a person practice in clearly communicating ideas using less words, in fact creating strong summaries without getting verbose. The fact is that creating the right ideas and using the right language to express them, can become a very powerful skill and a great talent to have, and anyone who attempts to write social media posts is likely to develop these skills over a period of time.
If you thought that the art of communication is slowly being lost with the advent of the Internet and the social media, you might be surprised to learn that there is a distinct move in the opposite direction underway. Company employees are often called upon to spread the message about their company’s core values, and to paint their company in a positive light, so as to increase its brand recognition and acceptance. Many people who write material for the Internet and the social media are unconsciously also working on their assertiveness, their empathy, and everything else which helps them communicate online in ways which are appreciated by their readers, and which resonate deeply among them.
Apart from creative expression related to the job, there are literally millions of people online who use the social media as a means of staying in touch with each other, and communicating their feelings daily. While it may be true that there is less face-to-face communication since the social media have become so prevalent, it is entirely possible that there is now much greater communication between individuals who make use of the social media.
Part of this is due to the fact that the nature of the Internet and of the social media can put people in touch literally with anyone in the world, regardless of their location. This is something that was never before possible in human history, and it is undoubtedly contributing to the communication skills which social media users are acquiring.
Better informed and more knowledgeable
The days of reading newspapers and magazines are quickly coming to an end for most people, and newspapers especially are going by the same way as pay phones in public places, i.e. they are becoming obsolete. That’s because the majority of people these days get their news from the Internet and their personal news feeds, even if they do occasionally tune into the nightly news on television.
However, whereas watching the local or national news on television is generally a hit or miss thing with most people, everyone logs onto the Internet early in the day to find out what’s going on in the world. This keeps people much better informed about events going on locally, nationally and around the world, than they would be without social media. Because people are much better informed about global events and things going on in their own neighborhood, they are more knowledgeable and can comfortably join in on conversations about those events.
This is another area which has been decried by critics of Internet and social media usage, who point out that relationships are suffering between people, because they’re all happening in cyberspace rather than in real life. While there is undoubtedly a point to be made about this, it’s worth considering the flip side of that coin as well.
For many people, the Internet and the social media provide a safe, non-threatening way to meet people and engage in relationships without the intensity of immediacy bogging things down. Younger people especially have a terrific opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex online in a non-physical situation, which can be very conducive to forming a relationship. In effect, using the Internet and social media can serve as a training ground before graduating to a real-life relationship which does involve face-to-face engagement and physical contact.
Using the social media can also accelerate the sense of social identity which virtually everyone must go through. Everyone needs to find out their place in the world, and this can be a very long, difficult process which literally takes years to accomplish. Having the social media and the Internet at your fingertips can make all this happen much more quickly, because it exposes you to new experiences, and it allows you to learn a lot more about yourself in a much shorter period of time. Knowing more about yourself, and being able to relate well to others, are probably two of the most important skills that any person will acquire during their lifetime, and the social media do provide an ideal environment for acquiring those skills.