9 Ways Social Media Has Shaped Our Lives For The Better

by Heather Varner

We’ve all heard it more times than we can possibly bear: Technology has ruined our generation, rendering us useless when it comes to being productive members of society.

Our toughest critics have no holdings when it comes to letting us know that not only have we lost all human capacity for face-to-face communication, we are also rapidly becoming illiterate.

After all, we apparently all use “text slang” in our everyday dialect. Of course, it is because of this that we not only are hopeless when it comes to the basic skills of reading and writing, we are also entirely inept in the professional world. Not that it matters. Millennials have no interest in entering the professional world.

Technological advancements have made us lazy; therefore, we have no drive, motivation or ambition. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. And I’m sure you have, too.

As a member of this so-called “destroyed” Millennial generation, I beg to differ. I know our lives center on technology in a previously unparalleled way, and I know there are many effects of this that are less-than-desirable (cyberbullying, anyone?)

But in the same breath, I would undoubtedly argue that this love of all things digital is not only cross-generational, but also not entirely bad. In fact, I’d argue that the good very well may surpass the negative. Here are 15 reasons why:

1. We have an unmatched “Entrepreneurial Spirit.”

This trait has been ingrained in our culture more by chance than choice. After all, when it comes to getting the life we’ve always wanted, Millennials have learned that it’s not out there waiting for us on a silver platter.

We may have been over-indulged with the “every kid is special” parenting style that swept the nation during our youth, but as we navigate our 20s, we have learned that's far from the truth.

If we want the life we’ve always dreamed of, we have to create it, and in today’s economy, we often have to do this on our own. It isn’t enough anymore to get your degree and expect to get a job.

The job market isn’t exactly booming, and Millennials have a tough time competing against other applicants who have 20 years of experience, as is often the case.

And thus, many members of our generation have taken it upon themselves to create the jobs they want with their own bare hands. We have ambition; we have cause. This will be a driving force in our generation’s eventual success.

2. We are up-to-date and informed on the political landscape of our world.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has read news articles or researched recently-announced political policies on my cell phone. And I'm definitely not the only one to have had someone make a comment about how typical it is that I can’t tear my eyes away from the screen.

It is frustrating, aggravating and just plain annoying. Sure, we might not walk around with a newspaper in hand, but we walk around with handheld devices that provide us with access to thousands of news outlets worldwide.

Our generation has an entirely new way of staying up-to-date and informed on the political landscape worldwide, and in my opinion, its efficiency is second to none. Our fingers are on the pulse 24 hours a day.

3. We care about social justice.

Amongst young people today, it is no longer cool to simply “not care.” We are informed about what’s going on, and with countless outlets to express our opinions online, through our personal profiles as well as anonymously, we are flooded with opportunity to develop and articulate opinions.

Unfortunately, a downfall to this is that many people choose to “care” about a given issue by sharing a photo online and then forgetting about it. This is futile and unfortunate, but with any social resolution, the first step is awareness, and that is a huge strength of the Millennial age bracket.

4. We don’t just accept or “tolerate” diversity, we welcome it.

I hate the word “tolerance,” and I know I’m not the only one. The idea that a different ethnicity, religion, culture or sexuality is something we have to “tolerate” is absolutely bewildering to Millennials.

Being in touch with people from cultures all over the world through social media plays a huge part in this. The world is getting smaller through our digital interconnectivity, and our welcoming attitude toward diversity is arguably the biggest pay-out of all.

5. We are connected, and we are compassionate.

A brief scan through my Facebook News Feed provides me with updates on the lives of people from my high school with whom I long ago lost contact.

While much of it is useless information (I really don’t need to know what Timothy from my grade 10 math class ate for lunch yesterday), it is amazing to find out when an old friend gets engaged or lands a promotion.

We now have the ability to offer congratulations (or condolences) readily, and because social media allows us to feel close with people from all over the world, we genuinely mean it.

6. Our “lingo” extends far past “text slang.” After all, we spend more hours a day reading and writing than ever before.

Between texting our friends, writing emails, posting statuses and tweeting, our generation is writing all day long. In addition to that, we are reading just as much, if not more.

While much of what we read and write is far from "Capital L Literature," it’s a great opportunity for us to keep up on dialect, vernacular and vocabulary.

There is no avoiding misspelling words (thanks to autocorrect and spell check), and we are inadvertently learning through our immersion in this technologically-consumed culture.

7. We are self-aware.

The line between self-aware and self-absorbed is a faint one, and I'll admit, our generation treads it closely. The natural result of having online profiles on multiple social networks is being all-too conscious of what we think, say and do and how it reflects on who we are.

While it is undeniable that the person we present ourselves as online varies from our true selves, at the very least, we are given the opportunity to reflect on that.

8. We prioritize health and fitness.

Yes, I know the statistics, and I am aware that our culture is becoming increasingly obese by the second. What I also know is that #fitchick, #eatclean and #gymgrind are three of the most regularly used hashtags on my Instagram feed.

Social media outlets have not only become a trend, they have also given us an opportunity to encourage, advise and motivate one another to a healthier lifestyle.

9. We are determined to defy the expectation.

As much as I love to argue against the stereotypes of the Millennial generation, the reality remains the same: Haters gon' hate. But, like most young people, I’m not willing to simply “shake it off,” as T-Swift so eloquently encourages us to do.

Not only do I want to defy every cliché and stereotype out there, I want to surpass all expectations. And I know I am not alone in this. If our own ambitions weren’t motivation enough to work hard, Millennials are driven by a hunger to prove everyone wrong.

We are not the laziest generation yet, and we are not going to be the cause of an entire societal collapse. It doesn’t matter if you believe me or not. Wait and see; we’ll show you.