Five things about social media.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just three of the many platforms of social media that I and many others across the globe use on a daily basis. There's been lots of debate about whether social media is good for society, but without it, the world would be a hell of a lot different. I want to share with you some of my own experiences of social media and explain five things I think everyone should know about it.

1. Everything is filtered

The idea of social media filter bubbles has been discussed a fair bit within the past year, given the huge political events that have occurred - mainly Brexit and Trump's rise to power. But, I certainly can't deny that social media filter bubbles exist. If you are not familiar with the term, filter bubbles are all to do with the type content that you see in your news feed on Facebook, the Tweets you see on your timeline, and the suggestions of posts to like on Instagram for example. What I mean by this is that you will typically see one type of content or one opinion in your feeds.

In most cases, our filter bubbles are the result of self filtering. For example, most people on Facebook will be friends with others who hold similar values and opinions as themselves. The Brexit debate was one of the biggest things to happen on social media last year, and many people, including myself were shocked by the result. One of the reasons why so many people were shocked at the result, was based around the content of their social media feeds. In my case, most of the content that I saw online was in favour of remaining in the EU, and this is how I voted. My friends on Facebook mainly share the same value and come from a similar background as I do - so I was shown one type of content. The shock of the result, came from social media filter bubbles, because not once did I see any of my online friends share a different opinion to my own.

Instagram's explore page is another example of how social media is filtered. The explore page uses algorithms to display what content it thinks you may like. It takes into consideration the people you follow, and what content you like. In my case, Instagram suggests to me to like pictures of landscapes and content related to fitness, because I follow this type of content myself. I don't really like the explore page and I try not to look at it because sometimes it makes me feel insecure - especially with Instagram shoving fitness models in my face every day.

2. Social media has changed the way I meet people

I am very thankful for social media for allowing me to connect with new people, who may live half way across the world. What I am most thankful for though, is how an online connection has developed an offline friendship. I met one of my closest friends through Twitter a number of years ago, and we to this day text and call each other regularly. We met in real life two years ago, and it was so amazing. It didn't feel weird, it felt like we've known each other forever. Without Twitter, I wouldn't have a friendship, which quite amazes me.

3.  All social media content is carefully constructed

I think it is easy to forget that all social media are pieces of content which have been carefully constructed for maximum effect. I think about this when Instagram's explore page makes me feel insecure.

Think about how many times you take a selfie and delete it before editing the shit out of the one you actually like before posting it anywhere online. Celebrities and influential social media profiles do this every time they upload something.

We all do it, we upload content publicly online to gratify our needs. We all like the feeling of being liked and it is no different on social media - this is why we take a photo and delete it before selecting one. You also put out content online of what you want other people to think about you. My Instagram for example has a lot of group pictures with friends, because I would like people to think I am a social person.

4.Although it can affect real life, it doesn't always represent the real

I'm sure lots of people do it -  have an expectation what people are like in the real world based upon their social media. In the past, I have met people in the real world having spoken to them online or seen a post they had made and completely changed my opinion of them to what I thought of their online presence.

This links back to social media being constructed. People that post nothing but well made up selfies do do every day real things, like feel sad or lonely. We just don't see it. So, social media, although shows aspects of life,  doesn't represent your entire life.

5. Social media has given social movements power

Particularly within the past year or so, there has been many social movements that have used social media as tool to be heard.

#BlackLivesMatter and the most recent #WomensMarchGlobal are two of the movements that have used social media as a voice. And so they should. Social media has given power to the people to unite, and use it for social good.

Without social media, everyday voices wouldn't be heard and this is one of the reasons why I am such a big advocate of using these platforms. We need these voices to be heard.

Adam Hale