Things move fast on social media. I open Instagram more often than I would care to admit, and there’s always new stuff flowing through my feed. When I was growing up, our options for news were to buy a newspaper (wtf) or watch the news on TV (who even owns a TV anymore?) But, the Internet changed all of that. The social media news cycle is constant. If you’re the type of person who thinks they know everything, TikTok will prove you wrong.
As with everything else in this world, there are pros and cons to the social media news cycle. Staying active on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok can give us a leg up with companies looking for someone savvy with social media. The knowledge we gain on apps can lead to a job offer. The trends we see online can inspire us. The people we connect with at a concert could be famous on Instagram. On social media, everyone is hustling.
Quantity Over Quality
However, just because we’re flooded with information doesn’t mean we’re learning something based on fact. Because the social media news cycle is never-ending, there’s pressure for journalists and content creators to keep putting out stories and photos that may sacrifice quality for quantity. As a writer, I’m expected to stay on the ball with news stories related to social media. That being said, sometimes, the stories I’m trying to follow are half-baked ideas that I found out about on TikTok. These ideas give me something to write about, but they weaken the quality of my stories because there’s no solid evidence to back them up.
Content creators, including writers, are in a tricky position. We hold fast to the belief that information has to be true because we saw it on Twitter. But there’s a line between stories that are important to write about and stories that are trending. Social media blurs that line, leaving us with no choice but to chase the content that we think will go viral.
Posting on Shaky Ground
The pressure to post new photos, thoughts, and captions can cause insecurity for social media users. This anxiety can be crippling for some. If you make your living from social media, you need your followers to trust that you will keep posting so long as they like your stuff. The social media news cycle leaves no room for mental health breaks. The Internet is constantly whispering that you’re not doing enough. For young people, this constant reminder that we need to be posting something amazing to keep our followers engaged is disheartening at best.
I’m 25, but I have insecurities of my own to contend with. I post my poetry and writing on blogs and social media, and there’s always the underlying fear that people will not want to read what I write. There’s always that nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that I should give up and work a desk job. I can’t imagine how strong that voice would be if I were 10 years younger. The social media news cycle can be especially vicious. There’s always someone creating something better than you, and knowing that can prevent many people from moving forward with their ideas.
It takes courage to post something on the Internet. It can be especially intimidating to know that thousands of other people are posting the same type of thing. This can prevent people who are truly talented from showing their content to the world.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I focused a lot on the downsides of the social media news cycle. How can we take that information and use it to our advantage moving forward? Someone once told me that once you know the rules, then you can break them. Even though our feeds are constantly refreshing, there are ideal times of day to post. I found that most of my pictures get the most likes if I post between 7-10pm. That’s usually when people are off work and lounging at home, looking for ways to kill time before going to bed.
Don’t give in to the pressure to post something that you’re not proud of. Social media allows us to show our best selves to the world. Our online presence is where we can be whoever we want the world to think we are. We can show our flaws or pretend our life is flawless. We can write something that will go viral because we know it’s trending or write something that feels true to us. There are tons of options to get your content noticed, but you can beat the social media news cycle at its own game by carving out a space on the Internet that feels true to you. It’s an obvious fact that social media disrupted the news cycle, but you don’t have to be Kim Kardashian to break the Internet. Post something that means something to you, and your people will follow. Happy posting!