Social Media Can Be Toxic But The Internet Brought Us Together This Year
Internet

Social Media Can Be Toxic But The Internet Brought Us Together This Year

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It’s no secret that 2020 has forced us to change the way many of us go about our lives, from the way we work to the way we communicate with loved ones.

But in spite of the ongoing pandemic, which has affected millions of people all over the world, 2020 has been an incredible learning curve for so many of us. Since March, people up and down the UK have been working from home, relying on the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype to stay in touch.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that while I’ve been stuck at home, my social media scrolling time has gone through the roof, and yet, the way in which people have used sites like Instagram and Twitter have changed significantly over the past 12 months.

Social media can be incredibly toxic, but the pandemic has forced it to rediscover the community that it was created to provide in the first place, providing a lifeline to so many. Here are a few of the things I learned along the way:

It is possible to make a difference in the world, from the comfort of your own home.

In addition to the pandemic, which continues to plague so many people’s lives, some truly awful things have happened this year, from the killing of George Floyd, to the near-total ban on abortions in parts of the United States and Poland.

As we all know, the unjust killing of Floyd at the hands of the police provoked furious outrage at the disproportionate police brutality and violence suffered by the Black and ethnic minority community, not just in the states, but in other parts of the world. His untimely death served as a catalyst for protests all over the world, but while thousands did take to the streets to demand change, others turned their attention to combatting racial inequality through different mediums of protest, from the comforts of their own homes.

Millions of people signed petitions calling on George Floyd’s killers to be brought to justice, and people all over the world began sharing educational resources on racism in a bid to try and raise awareness of the institutionalised inequality that many of us have been ignorant of, or turned a blind eye to.

There’s still a long way to go before we achieve equality in the world.

In the same vein, despite all the momentum that the Black Lives Matter movement gained in 2020, the global campaign shone a spotlight on just how far we need to go in order to achieve true equality.

It has been seven months since Floyd’s death, and yet just under half of people over the pond here in Britain believe that attitudes surrounding racial inequality have not changed, while 95% of people from ethnic minorities said they had faced some kind of racism or racial prejudice in the months that followed.

Sadly, it doesn’t take long to seek out hate-filled trolls that trawl the grim corners of the internet, and as these important conversations continue to get louder, so do they.

Zoom quizzes belong in the depths of hell.

Look, we all did them. We all gave them a go, and now hopefully we can all agree never to do them ever again. Sure, they were a great way to get the whole family together, but can you imagine if every time we had a family gathering IRL it was absolutely essential to engage in a quiz? No, exactly. So, while Zoom has, of course, been a brilliant lifeline in keeping friends and family in touch with one another, let’s knock the quizzes on the head, eh folks?

There’s always someone who feels the same way you do.

It’s not even remotely accurate when people say ‘we’re all in the same boat’ because it’s simply not true. Yes, we’re all in the pandemic, but some people are experiencing the pandemic from a beach club in Dubai while others are home alone, without enough money to even put the heating on.

However, one thing you can absolutely say with certainty is that there will always be someone who feels the same way as you do. You might be living alone, or you might have differing political views on how the pandemic should’ve been handled to your parents, or your partner, or your Zoom quiz mates. But thanks to the bubble that is social media, like-minded thinkers are never that far away.

It’s easier to put things into perspective.

I won’t say the old cliché that there’s always someone worse off than you, because, quite frankly, when you’re hurting it’s irrelevant. But for me personally, being able to see how the pandemic has affected some people has forced me to hold a mirror up and count my blessings. Sure, in summer it felt sad being trapped alone in a city centre flat working while others were out in the sunshine on furlough, but I’m incredibly to fortunate to have a job relatively unaffected by it all.

They say that comparing yourself to others is a thief of joy, but if you flip it on its head and count your blessings – even when it can feel as though they’re incredibly few and far in between – it can still bring an awful lot of joy.

At the end of the day, this year has challenged people in all kinds of ways that none of us ever could have anticipated, and while there’s no point in pretending there’s a silver lining to everything, I can say with some certainty that I’ve learned a lot.

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