People often complain that social media is a fabricated world, a place where filters over-glamorize life. But what if social media is an opportunity to support, celebrate and uplift hundreds of people?

Social media could be an avenue of change and good in the world. Social media connotations have become increasingly negative, but I would like to suggest a new train of thought: social media can be an enhancing experience for both the poster and the viewer.

Viewers need to reflect on why they have a negative association with “overly happy/loving/ambitious” posts. Comparison is an ugly game that ends in sadness. We need to stop comparing ourselves and instead take off our own shoes and put on the shoes of the poster. When we walk a mile in their shoes, it might just enhance our own mile. If we are all going to continue using social media, we might as well make it a positive experience.

I am not suggesting that genuine posts are not desired or ideal; however, I am suggesting that we shouldn’t be the ones to judge what is “genuine.” I have hundreds of friends on Facebook that I don’t know very well, and I am pretty sure that is the case for most people on any social media site. Being vulnerable and real with your closest friends and family can be a difficult endeavor. Can we expect everyone who posts on social media to be vulnerable with people they have talked to only a few times? Just because a post isn’t showcasing someone’s vulnerability doesn’t mean there it doesn’t have sincere value.

Everyone knows that life is rough, the struggle is real, etc., but why would we want our friends to focus on the negatives when they are trying to find the positives and enjoy their lives? Social media is the perfect place to share something that makes you feel better about your situation because so many people see it. When a message about something exciting in a person’s life gets sent to hundreds of people, that message is going to become more real to the individual who posts it, and it will provoke positivity in those who see it. The commitment to be happier will be strengthened.

If someone were to post something happy, and then go back to moping, it would create internal mental strife for that individual; psychologists call this cognitive dissonance. This is why there are so many people who post about working out — the accountability keeps them motivated while potentially motivating others.

As a positive post is celebrated, it can become a longer lasting memory. In the article “Celebrating the Accomplishments of Others: Mutual Benefits of Capitalization,” the authors state, “Capitalization enhances memorability of the positive event, maximizes the positive event’s personal significance, and increases interpersonal status.” Everyone wants to see how many likes, loves and comments they get on a Facebook or Instagram post because with each one, the brain stores the event a little deeper in memory and maximizes the positive effect. One of the best parts is that the viewer who celebrates someone’s post also receives life-enhancing benefits. By supporting their friends, they can feel an increase of happiness in their own life. Hence, walking in someone’s shoes for a mile could lead to better things than, say, athlete’s foot.

The research done in the article focuses on the effects of celebrating others and capitalizing on their life’s events. As author Collie W. Conoley and colleagues suggest in the article, “Capitalization is built on research that suggests individuals experience better psychosocial outcomes when their friends’ responses make them feel understood, validated, and cared for.” This study found that the celebrators had an increase of positive emotions and their relationship with whomever they celebrated was enhanced.

Social media is the easiest way to affect hundreds with minimal effort. Celebrating and supporting others could lead to a feeling of safety on social media sites. A sense of safety would give opportunity for all anyone could ever want — a sincere and genuine post, and maybe even the more vulnerable ones people shy away from. Should we not be grateful that there is so much good in the world that we can be cheered up any time we jump on our favorite social media site? Next time you scroll, react to others’ posts the way you would want others to react to yours. If The Beatles are right and love is all you need, it’s just an easy click away.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

Article by Kelcy Jensen-Coon

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