People need weak ties, and social media has made it absurdly easy to form them. Those ties can give you a sense of being part of a loosely connected network of people with whom you have shared a moment or an interest in common. Having lots of weak ties can lead to the discovery of new interests. And they can evolve into deep friendships.
Furthermore, having lots of weak ties that include lots of different sorts of people lets us recognize that we all share a world that matters to each of us but matters differently to each of us.
Despite its many benefits, social media sometimes enables and can even encourage us to behave badly with one another. We all need to be working on changing social media to prevent this, as well as becoming more aware of the effects of our words online.
Social media has undoubtedly increased the different ways in which we can be social and the number of people we can know, help, and learn from. And that is the essence of being social.
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Univ.