The Great Equalizer

Social media is great, provided you know how to use it effectively, and use it to create value.
by Ankit Chawla
Ankit chawla

Social media is a necessary evil in 2018. The past decade has seen the meteoric rise of social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These platforms have taken over our physical social lives. We are constantly looking for validation from our friends and from strangers; we put up a show that makes life look exciting.


There is negativity on these platforms, which forces us to act as performers in a sense. But, Facebook and Twitter, or other major platforms for that matter, also offer exposure to the professional world. At least, they did so for me.


I started off my independent technology media blog back in 2015 to quench my thirst for writing and experimenting with the latest gadgets. I made full use of social media for networking with the right media and PR contacts, in order to get information required to scale my venture. Eventually, I ended up freelancing at a couple of places through references from friends that I made off of social media. As networking expanded, so did my freelance jobs.


In fact, one of my longest writing gigs involved making good use of Facebook advertising to increase website traffic. This experience helped me learn the business of social media inside out. Essentially, Facebook has been killing native content and boosting posts from businesses that pay. This is how this mega-billion user platform controls what you see, when you see it, and who you see it from. It is much evident from the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal that swung the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


So, what I’m getting at is that social media is great as long as you know how to use it effectively, which is to create value. There are numerous people I know that have had mental breakdowns because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). They wish to view everything that their social media feeds have to offer. They also like to show that their lives are hunky-dory, which, in fact, is far away from reality.


What my decade-long experience with social media has taught me is that keeping things minimal and focusing only on things that matter to you or information that adds value to your life is the best way to use these online platforms. Back in school, in 2008, I got my first taste of social media with Orkut. Personal connections in school suddenly transformed for me.


Girls, and boys, who I would have never interacted with personally at school, became profiles that I would chat with online. I, and several others, started to lead two separate lives – one offline and one on social media. However, by the time I graduated from high school, I managed to curb this habit through constant introspection of my behaviour.


A seemingly permanent record of our actions online can be a good thing if you are a surveillance company, but it’s not great for personal relationships. Due credit goes to the increasing presence of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—all three, ironically, owned by the same company. In conversations with our family, friends, and partners, we leave behind logs of our intimate moments, our fights, and our reunions.


These logs can act as weapons for events in the future, even creating a public spectacle in some cases. On the positive side, however, they can also act as memories to reminisce over, observations of your transformation.


Talking about the internet in general, I can easily say that my career has been created and evolved on the internet. Every little penny that I have made until now, whether be it from my writing gigs or from stock trading, has directly or indirectly been made from the internet. Not just me, there are several others like me for whom the internet has opened doors like never before.


This is in part because the internet is a great equalizer. Take YouTube for example, where independent creators have been the major driving force behind its success as the largest video streaming platform globally.


I started following the work of an Indian YouTube creator who travels solo to foreign destinations on a shoestring budget. He would upload content that connected with me in a practical and rustic manner. It was because he spoke the language of the common people, and showed real problems that regular travellers face.


Soon, his growth on YouTube skyrocketed, possibly because of this style, and he left his office to pursue his passion of travelling full-time. There are many others like him who have quit their mundane jobs to pursue something on the internet—something they are good at, because they are free to do so. These professionals span across industries like video creation, SEO expertise, social media marketing, consulting, and more.