March 9, 2016

Collegiate Perspective: The Role of Social Media in Confidence and Empowerment




With the prevalence and popularity of social networking, the world is interconnected now more than ever. We’ve all heard parents and the media tout the downsides of being focused on technology – social media can lead to cyber bullying or provides conditions for teenagers to compare themselves to the Instagram photos of edited models. Yet, I have found that social media provides many outlets for millennials to get inspired, express themselves and in turn, feel confident.

I have a love-hate relationship with my Instagram account. It’s true that sometimes I look at edited photos of celebrities and wish I looked the same. But the beauty of social media is that you can choose what you see. Once I embraced the fact that I could use social media my own way, I was exposed to a whole new world of possibilities and in fact, friendship.

Through Instagram, I have connected with dozens of Alpha Phis from all over the country ranging to schools back home in California to all the way on the east coast. Each day I am able to see a variety of philanthropy events, a diverse selection of Alpha Phi merchandise (shout out to ASU’s chapter for the wonderful bid-day shirt idea) and sisters doing wonderful things. These opportunities showcase the power of social media to help an organization express the many personalities of its members and empower their ideas.

Social networking encourages self-expression through its accessibility. We have the option to publish our own thoughts or to republish posts that resonate with us. We have the power to filter what we see and what we create. In expressing ourselves creatively, we are utilizing a part of our brain that’s not used in every day conversation. In developing our online footprint, we are more fully developing ourselves.

Social media is not only used for chatting with friends or posting great photos of the breakfast you had that morning – it can be used to propel academics, studies and careers as well. Quite a few female entrepreneurs have positively influenced the sphere of social media. For example, Mari Smith is a social media trailblazer specializing in relationship marketing and is a pioneer for female leadership in small businesses. Another female leader is Ann Tran who uses social media platforms to study social behavior in order to understand the power of online influence. These women have used networking platforms in ways that not only empower themselves but help empower others.

As students, we have a plethora of opportunities to explore and experiment with social networking, not only to develop our social connections, but also our ideas, perspectives and identities.  As social media only becomes more popular in the future, it’s up to us to decide what online legacy to leave.

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