With the gap that divides generations exists the ever-persistent controversy around social media today and how it may or may not be ruining society and making children anti-social. Whether people like it or not, however, social media is here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger. Social media is important to us, but why?

Social media is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. That means more and more people are using it to market their businesses, reach people from around the globe, and promote their products and accounts. Social networking isn’t just something people do to keep in touch with their family and friends anymore. It’s so prolific that politicians are using it to boost their platforms, entertainers use it to interact with their fans, and companies use it to make money. Human beings naturally want to connect to other human beings, and that’s what social media effortlessly provides.

For anyone in marketing, it is apparent that social media is not an integral part of advertising and promotion. Marketing and communications is way more complicated than putting up billboards and publishing ads in newspapers now. The best way to get the word out about anything, businesses, products, events, etc., is on the internet, where the majority of the world exists now.

Social media is more relevant now than it has ever has been for plenty of reasons outside of marketing and business. First of all, everybody is a part of it. Plenty of people in older generations spurned social media because they saw face-to-face interaction as more important and realistic than that which existed through online mingling. Grandma wanted a real letter or a phone call, not a message through Facebook. But the reality now is that social media isn’t going anywhere, and Grandma has had to bite the bullet and plug in to see what her grandkids are up to. It’s also the only way she can remember their birthdays.

People enjoy community, and with social media today, users can choose the communities they want to be a part of, make friends based on what anime they like, or even create their own communities online to supplement the lack of one in their home life. Social media, internet stranger danger aside, is actually a great way to make friends and maintain them. Sites like Tumblr and Instagram are platforms which allow users to completely customize content based on their interests, and after the first 100 followers on any account, friendships can form pretty naturally because of shared hobbies among users.

Of course, 100 followers isn’t exactly a lot. Social media is important to people because, as superficial as this may sound, people want to feel important. The more followers one has on Instagram or Tumblr or Twitter, the more relevant that an individual feels online. For someone who may have trouble feeling relevant at home or at work or at school, this can be a major motivator for maintaining an online presence. The reality is, humans are social animals, and social media isn’t going anywhere.