Social media
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Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, it's a smorgasbord of ideas, opinions and news. We mindlessly scroll through social media feeds and perhaps troll others to our delight. The American Academy of Pediatrics warned about the potential for negative impact Facebook has for teens and for adults as well. A UCLA study sheds light on why Facebook is so popular why the brain centers on social media platforms. “The brain has a major system that seems predisposed to get us ready to be social in our spare moments,” said Matthew Liberman, a UCLA professor of psychology and of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences. "Engaging in activities of little meaning on social media may give a feeling of time wasted that negatively influences mood," the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences reported. Social media use could cause an internet addiction and this is a psychiatric condition linked to depression. Whether Facebook influences people's subjective well-being over time is unknown, but what we do know it can be used as a weapon for good or evil. Facebook and other social media entities are increasingly becoming a playground for stalkers, bullies and trash-talk. For instance, Facebook Live has been used for suicides, murder and just evil against humanity. The flip side to this is the good people do with this as well. They use it to raise awareness, offer hope, and use it to share their adventures with the family. The platform is injecting life and optimism for many people by helping find lost loved ones and helping raise money for hurricane victims. With 500 million users worldwide, why can’t we use it for activism and advance our society? Here are 6 ways to use Facebook as a light in the world.

Reconnect with others.

Researchers acknowledge Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling many needs by allowing people to instantly connect. Social media is a great social supplement for people living away from each other. According to Pew Research, people said keeping up with family members is a major consideration in their use of social networking sites and they are part of a demographically diverse group. Many people above 50 use Facebook to connect and reconnect with old friends. People found lost loved ones over the years because of Facebook. This happened to a set of twin sisters in Mississippi who were reunited with their birth family through Facebook 54 years after being adopted from Italy. "I screamed 'Oh my God. My family has contacted me,'" Jane Bennett of Biloxi, Miss., told ABC News. "I was emotional; upside down...I was just thrilled. I was just in tears and it was awesome." What used to be a slow process is fast becoming an answered prayer for numerous people looking for birth mothers. Parents are also using it to find children they gave up for adoption. What took people years may only take a matter of months through the vessel of Facebook. There is something powerful in connecting with loved ones and social media is contributory in this journey and it's making wishes finally come true for so many.

It brings awareness.

Facebook is great to raise awareness for causes by posting images and personal stories to help gain attention. Sometimes obscure charity organizations receive publicity to help their causes. Post a photo with a question beneath it or create polls for new followers. Kindness Rocks Project launched in 2014 when Megan Murphy believed her parents sent Heavenly signs by dropping heart-shaped stones and other objects in her path and Facebook brought more awareness on being kind. “I think that people are really looking for a connection,” Murphy said in a phone interview with the outlet. “I feel that people are disconnected right now … but there comes a point where there needs to be something that brings them together to make a difference.” Another organization helped by Facebook was the Amyotrophic Lateral Aclerosis Association (ALS). Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 that went viral and became a sensation? Athletes, singers, actors, kids and everyday people dumped ice water on their heads to bring awareness to ALS, a condition that affects nerve cells and the spinal cord. The challenge raised 88.5 billion dollars in 2014 alone. The movement continues to this very day.

It helps get information out.

If you want to get news out to help people or share atrocities going on in the world, Facebook is great to spread information. A story on Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Colorado was shared on how the church was building tiny houses and making it into a village to help the homeless. The story went viral and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless said: “We’ve got to get more people into safe spaces, and if this is going to serve as a safe space for some people, then we support it.” The money started to pour into the project. “After careful consideration, and a time of prayerful reflection, the people of St. Andrew’s have decided to proceed with the proposed Tiny House Village,” a news release said. Whatever you’re passionate about, and wherever you want to see positive change, social media gets the news out on the cause. Writing an update takes 10 seconds and will update everyone on a given subject and Post Planner helps you quickly find the updates that have been proven to be interesting, engaging and can be great for Facebook audiences. News Use Across Social Media Platforms found 62 percent of American adults get news on social media and therein lies the power of Facebook. "YouTube, Facebook and Instagram news users are more likely to get their news online mostly by chance, when they are online doing other things." The point is Americans still get their information from social media and this can be a positive.

It encourages others.

When you’re on the go, it's hard to receive and offer an encouraging word. Facebook can be the gateway to reach others with positive vibes. Many people use Scripture and share inspiring videos to help each other. Find a powerful Bible verse in your morning devotion and post it. Want to pray for people? Well, post a prayer and take prayer requests and even set up a Bible study time. But don’t be a whiner who complains about everything. "Let your words be encouraging and build up people. That's not to say that you shouldn't speak to current matters, but just know that you can't make a full argument in 140 characters," author Neil Kennedy shared on fivestarman.com. Start recognizing the best qualities that others around you have to offer, instead of focusing on flaws and on other people's flaws. Show appreciation and respect for the good things that your family, friends and colleagues do for you each and every day, and sequentially encourage them to do the same for others.

It provides a sense of community.

Help others lose weight or create a community people can inspire each other to do so. Use Facebook on your weight-loss journey with friends to receive and get needed support. Using a mobile app could help people lose an average of 15 pounds and those who also adopted community-support benefits of social media lost more weight than their less-connected peers. A Northwestern Medicine study found: "People who used the mobile phone technology and attended 80 percent of the health education sessions lost 15 pounds and maintained the loss for one year." Since Facebook fosters community, it can help people remain on track with accountability. Also, posting before and after photos during a weight-loss quest can be empowering for you and for others.

It can help parents.

Use your talents for good. If you’re a mom start a community to help other moms and set activities up to meet and to encourage each other. According to the United Health Group.com, 96 percent of people who volunteered said volunteering enriches their sense of purpose. Instead of scanning Facebook for mindless chatter, or to scrutinize other moms, use your talents to better local families in the community.

According to Civic Science, about 9 percent of U.S. online consumers over the age of 13 consider themselves addicted to their digital devices. What if we used it to advance the goodness in the world or spent more time counteracting the negativity unearthed in recent studies on social media? People have been using social media to spread awareness and whether it is a Facebook group or sharing links to charities, making a move to improve the world is better than making no move at all. Social media can help save lives, offer people inspiration and help those too weak to defend themselves.

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