Hilary Kaye

Executive PRspective

Positives and Negatives

Social media is a double-edged sword. One side is dark and dangerous, while the other side is pretty darn slick. This certainly is not a new idea. I think most people would agree with the yin and yang of social media, and I’m like most people on this one. As a baby boomer, who grew up just fine without the Internet, mobile phones or Facebook, I’ve found my digital experiences to be frustrating – but also fruitful.

It seems as soon as I become comfortable with the nuances of a social media channel, I discover things have changed and I must relearn what I just mastered. And don’t get me started on passwords – the more difficult I make them, as I’m cautioned to do, the harder they are to remember. Of course, the number of passwords we are forced to create seems to multiply like rabbits. I also remain on high alert for phishing and other scams perpetuated by hackers to manipulate people or situations.

Despite these (and other) frustrations, I persevere in the digital world and, for the most part, I’m quite happy to be part of it. In fact, I have become increasingly impressed with how social media can pull a community together. Whether it’s our nation or our neighborhoods, social media has changed the fabric, and the timing, of our interactions in a positive way.

Thanks to social media, responses to natural disasters, such as the recent barrage of hurricanes and torrential rainstorms, are immediate and beneficial, whether the affected community needs money, goods or volunteers. Social media also helps to mobilize acts of human kindness in the aftermath of “manmade” tragedies, such as the recent shooting rampage in Las Vegas, as people all over the country immediately sent money for victims and donated blood.

People coming together via the immense power of social media doesn’t only happen globally. I’ve seen small communities rally to share both advice and concerns on the growing online neighborhood forum NextDoor, where the comments can be harmonious and helpful – even life-changing. Ever-passionate about animals, I’ve used NextDoor (and Facebook) to help find permanent or foster families for abandoned animals facing euthanasia. It’s quick and easy and lives have been saved. Even lost pets can be reunited with their families more easily via NextDoor. It’s not quite the same as hanging over the back fence to chat with neighbors, but in today’s fast-paced world, it’s an alternative that works.

I know social media will continue to evolve. The digital world will grow to have more and more influence in our lives. And I suspect we will continue to experience both sides of the sword. I just hope the good will outweigh the bad.