By Anastasia Warren

Look up from your phone. Don’t let the world pass you by. Disconnect.

Videos, photos and articles flood our social media outlets, telling us that social media itself is corrupt and that it is ruining our generation — that it stops us from living our lives to the fullest and superficially knocks us down and, at times, boosts our self-esteems.

Ironic, that these messages are crafted for and shared through the exact thing that they are speaking against.

The idea of not living your life through your phone is an important one — one often shared with us on our social media. However, the idea that social media, when used correctly, can actually be beneficial is one that I have yet to see at all.

We see “selfies” as vain. We see posting too often as being too open. We see others’ eyes glued to their screens as they walk through the streets of a beautiful place.

Yet, we use social media. And that’s not a bad thing.

I’m a social media user and often I use it too much. I will admit that I need to work on putting down my phone in certain situations and not “doing it for the Insta,” just as much as the next person. Why, however, does social media often have such a negative connotation?

As with many other things in life, we fail to realize the value social media provides.

Why not share what you’re doing with your friends and family? Why not use your platforms to inspire others? Why not use these outlets to keep up with loved ones that are afar? Why not share the good and bring awareness to your passions and different causes?

Why not use these platforms of communication to do great things?

As annoying as some people found it, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that took over our feeds this year helped the ALS Association raise millions more than the year prior for their efforts. Organizations can get the word out to their friends about different community service events within seconds. The other day, a New York Times bestselling author tweeted back at me when I posted about their book.

The fact that we have access to this form of communication that has the power to connect us to people all over the world, that has the power to inform us in the blink of an eye and allows us to post an inspirational video for all of our friends to see, is not something to be looked down upon or as a “norm,” because it’s pretty damn amazing.

Sharing often and sharing your life are two different things. I, for one, post on my personal accounts like it’s my job, but I also maintain a decently private personal life because that is the way I choose to live. If you find yourself constantly updating your feeds at a family dinner or on your hike through Tahoe, you might want to consider putting down your phone. I’m not telling you to share your world or check your social media all day everyday — I’m telling you to realize the amazing tool before you.

As with anything in life that is used for the greater good, without hurting others, while making yourself happy and used in moderation, social media is actually incredible.

Use Facebook and Twitter to inform yourself on issues and world events. Use it to get the word out about your philanthropy event. Use it to post a pretty picture that you like (you’re right, with the right filter that holiday coffee cup is really awesome). Use it to keep up with old friends. And, if you want, don’t use it at all.

I encourage you to realize the implications of social media and the fact that people around the world can connect so easily on a daily basis. If you choose to use it, I encourage you to be smart and think before you tweet. I encourage you to take a step back from this everyday thing you use and appreciate the science behind it, as well as the convenience in which it allows you to live.

Social media is a privilege, and as with any privilege, it should be appreciated. Its power should be respected. It shouldn’t be taken advantage of or taken for granted and it should be used wisely.

So, next time you get an update from a national publication on your Twitter feed, next time you watch an inspiring video posted to Facebook telling you to live in the moment, next time you read an inspiring quote on Instagram that causes you to do something a little bit better that day than the one before, realize that it is a positive, a convenience, a privilege and anything but “normal.”

Anastasia Warren studies public relations. She can be reached at and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.