Social media is an awful thing. I probably don’t even have to explain myself when I make that statement, but I will anyways. If you’re anything like every other child of the digital age, you waste hours of your life on social media sites (hours that you will never get back, I might add. They all belong to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr now) because you need to know what that popular kid who always picked on you in high school is doing with his/her life. You need to know what Olivia Wilde just tweeted. You need to know the latest meme (if you don’t know what a meme is, don’t worry. It’s just another thing to leech away hours of your day), because what if it changes your life?!
Plot twist – social media is actually pretty awesome.
Wait, what? I started this post with “Social media is an awful thing” and now I’m telling you, “No, just kidding! It was a joke! Social media is perfect, use it for 7.48239 hours a day, every day, for the rest of your life!”
Let me elaborate.
Social media is pretty awesome – provided you use it productively.
At this word – productive – you cringe. “Productive?!” you cry. “I was productive at work for the last 8 hours, and now you’re telling me that mindless, recreational activities should be done productively?!”
Whoa, calm down there. Let me explain my logic, and then you can cry your eyes out if you want.
Social media is great for what I like to think of as “learning by osmosis.” Let’s use agriculture as an example. Agriculture is a huge industry in Ohio – contributing billions of dollars to the economy annually. And with the locavore movement on the rise, it’s no surprise that people, especially Ohioians, are turning to the internet to find out more about their food – where it comes from, who made it, the conditions it was made under, how it got on their table, and so on. But researching your food takes a significant amount of time. How can you research your food without feeling like you’re pulling an all-nighter writing the final paper for your Edgar Allan Poe seminar?
This is where learning by osmosis comes in. You don’t have to go completely out of your way to learn about agriculture. “Like” pages related to farming and husbandry. Follow experts who write regularly on issues facing the agriculture industry. Check out hashtags to find out what’s happening on farms in your area. For instance, on Twitter, you can read about the planting season by taking a look at the #plant13 hashtag. You’ll learn about the life of a corn seed, the machinery used in the planting process, how many farms had to delay planting because of the recent rains, and more. Social media is demystifying industries, such as agriculture, for us, and making it easier learn where our food comes from.
Learning by osmosis is one of the best uses of social media. I know about the politics and ethics behind growing quinoa, can articulately talk about the practical and artistic uses of additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing), and educate you on numerous other subjects not because I sat down to learn about these things. Quite the contrary – I sat down to check my Facebook, scroll through my Tumblr dashboard, or use some of form of social media. Social media is clearing away the fog surrounding industries we can’t learn about through first hand experience or interactions. Now, when you groan because it’s a gloomy, rainy day, I’ll groan because there are farmers who have to replant their crop that was washed away in the rain.