We’ve all had that conversation with an older family member. It usually stems from them seeing you on your phone and assuming you’ve been lost to reality. You only exist on the internet now. Your mind has been swallowed by the digital plane.

“Stop texting and talk to some real people!”

The truth is, I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had through social media, and we still talk daily through Facebook Messenger. I have a group chat online with four other people in it. Do you want to know how we met? We all had Naruto blogs on Tumblr. We’re just a bunch of girls who really love Naruto. This is why social media is important to me. Without my four friends from around the world, or just around North American, really, I don’t know if I would have made it through my first two years of college. It was a hard and lonely time for me. Social media gave me a place to belong and people to belong to.

My grandparents like to poke fun at me for being online so often. They tell me that I need to pay attention to what’s around me. First of all, glancing at my phone every once in a while doesn’t mean that I’m not paying attention. Second of all, these girls I’m talking to online are real people who are important to me. Just because we met online doesn’t mean they’re some AI on the other side of the globe collecting all of my private information.

Social media is important to me because my little sister moved three states away and I haven’t seen her in over a year. Without Facebook, I don’t know if I’d ever heard from her. I love her, but she’s newly married, a full-time senior social work student, and she has a part-time job that gives her nearly full-time hours. That on top of her insane ADHD, I’m surprised she leaves her house with her head on her shoulders most days. Social media lets me keep an eye on her.

For many people, social media is a way to stay engaged with trends, brands, and catalogue their daily lives. Getting Insta likes is a daily goal for a lot of Instagram users. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s just not what I’m good at. What I’m good at is interacting with a select few people I know from years of micro-blogging. And if I want a few likes to gain attention, I buy a few.

I’m not great at consistently posting content online, but that doesn’t mean social media isn’t as important to me as those major influencers online getting Insta likes and grinding for post engagement. Social media plays a select niche in everyone’s lives. There are so many ways to use it, whether it be for marketing, building online communities, interacting with trends and keeping up with the new, or simply just following along with the daily lives of friends and family. That’s the great thing about social media. It plays so many roles and is important in so many ways to people all around the world.