Communities and Social Media

Hey Siri, Play ‘Come Together’ by ‘The Beatles’; How Social Media has Helped to Unite People Globally

This paper explores how contemporary technologies have allowed for and encouraged people to be whole-heartedly themselves, whilst globally uniting people and communities in the process. While acknowledging valid concerns around potential harmful consequences of social media, this study dissects the critical uses of social media in self-expression within online communities. Important discussion of current controversial topics are addressed in relation to the role that social media plays in relaying particular information and voicing the opinions of its users. Additionally, this study explores the essential role that social media plays in ensuring that the human being’s innate desire of belonging it met through participation in online communities, concluding that social media and online communities are vital in keeping a healthy sense of social connectedness and belonging.

Digital and social media platforms have liberated individuals by encouraging users to be self-expressive and confident in their ability to be a part of online communities that make them feel welcome and heard.  When a person begins to feel as though they do not belong in any of the groups and communities that surround them, contemporary everchanging and ever-growing use of technology and social media has allowed for people like this to rediscover their sense of worth and inclusion. This feeling of non-belonging not only effects our confidence, but it also works to dampen our self-expression, self-worth, and our connectedness with the world around us. However, in today’s ever-growing society, social media tools such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have allowed for people of similar interests and beliefs to come together, connect and communicate freely without having to worry about their physical locations. The intimacy of sharing photos online can also assist in making a person feel less lonely and more connected with the world around them. Additionally, social media users develop a stronger sense of belonging when they participate in online discussions or are accepted into online communities.  It is therefore clear that that digital and social media play a vital role in maintaining a strong sense of belonging whilst also developing a healthy sense of social connectedness.

Firstly, what is social media? Mackson, Brochu, and Schneider (2019) describe it as “technologies that facilitate user sharing, content creation, and information exchange with online communities” (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019). It can also be used as a means of communication between people despite where they are located geographically. Today’s generations are becoming more and more self-expressive, especially with the ever-growing use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram (Treem, Dailey, Pierce, & Biffl, 2016). Younger generations are finding that social media can be a tool in which to accentuate their personalities and relate to others who are similar to themselves. Not only does social media provide its users with a valuable source of self-expression which aids in them feeling less lonely and more connected (Chopra, 2019), but it also acts as a microphone that can be used to amplify the voices of those who have previously felt silenced. Take the microblogging platform Twitter for example, which uses hashtags to more readily communicate particular themes, topics, events, or conversations (Olafson, 2020). Twitter was the first platform to incorporate the use of hashtags in order to help connect its users across the globe and to help group together similar tweets. Not only are hashtags used to help boost user engagement, they can also be used as a way in which to show support for a particular social issue (Olafson, 2020). The hashtag #BLM or #GirlsLikeUs showed advocacy for the rights of transgender women and helped build online communities where like people could unite and feel heard (Jackson, Bailey, & Welles, 2017). Hashtags have also opened up opportunities for particular political actions to be heard and seen, for example, the implication of ‘flash-mobs’ (Ling & Campbell, 2012), peaceful protests, charity events, and fundraisers. Thanks to social media, important news and events can be shared with people all across the world in less than a second. Not only is social media used to connect with people all across the world, but it also plays a large role in a person’s sense of belonging, especially within communities.

Whether it is communities created around race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, or simply common interests, social media opens doors for those who have previously felt shut out, unheard, and outcasted. The union of like people assists in making a person feel as though they have a voice that is loud enough to be heard and one that is resounding enough to make a difference in this complicated world (Ling & Campbell, 2012). Similarly, Pittman and Reich (2016) found that using social media platforms to consistently assist in maintaining social relationships has the potential to “subtly embrace is in the warmth of self-affirmation, the whispers of encouragement, and the meaningfulness of belonging” (Pittman & Reich, 2016). If ever a person feels as though they aren’t fitting in in their local communities, it can be guaranteed that someone within the online space will be able to relate to the exact same struggles. This helps to make users of digital and social media to feel validated and they are not alone, furthering their sense of self-esteem and confidence (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019). Again, the use of hashtags can help users quickly find particular topics of interest more quickly and also find links to particular conversations that they feel they can contribute to, thus giving them a sense of purpose and, yes, a sense of belonging. Humans possess an innate psychological desire and need to belong in worthwhile groups whilst also taking part in meaningful social interactions. Social media is an exceptional tool that is used to help fulfill these innately drives by ensuring users feel as though they are a part of multiple social groups or communities  (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019). When a person feels like they have somewhere to belong, even if it’s not in their immediate surrounding, they begin to develop a sense of purpose; that perhaps they too can contribute things to this world that can make a difference. One way people are utilising social media to make an impact is through the creation of awareness for particular issues and topics from posts, hashtags, and discussions online which helps to create a stronger sense of social connectedness.

Social media has generated a new space where activism on controversial topics can be expressed and discussed (Gerbaudo, 2012). These new social platforms are also often used as “a means of representation” that are put in place to create “external attention” (Gerbaudo, 2012). In other words, social media has become a sort of outlet that people can use to draw attention and awareness to particular important issues, controversies, or worldly events in a safe space such as particular online communities. Although some may argue that this newfound platform in which to amplify our voices may cause more diversion than cohesion, Gerbaudo’s (2012) research clearly shows that the benefits that social media offers its lonely or outcasted users outweighs the platform’s negatives (Gerbaudo, 2012). Social media should be seen as a space in which to share and converse about issues and particular topics whilst simultaneously creating diverse groups of online communities where people across the world can unite and relate to one another. Social media has continually been found to maintain one’s sense of social connectedness (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019), so it shouldn’t be overlooked that these new online technologies can work to better a person’s mental wellbeing along with their education of important hard-hitting topics. Particular social media applications such as Snapchat and Instagram have been found to be more effective in creating intimate connections along with benefitting our psychological wellbeing.

Instagram is a photo sharing platform where users can post photos and videos to both public and private communities. Many users of the app enjoy posting monumental moments of their lives while others use the app simply to communicate to friends and family across the world. Pittman and Reich (2016) suggest that photo-based platforms, such as Instagram, have the most potential to eliminate loneliness within younger generations because of the intimacy they offer (Pittman & Reich, 2016). Instead of other social media platforms that predominantly use text, apps like Instagram and Snapchat allow for the potential for more intimate connections to be made because they offer visual insight into the environments of its users. Additionally, a study was completed by Mackson, Brochu, and Schneider in 2019 which examined the association between Instagram and the psychological wellbeing of its users (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019). The study looked at both users and non-users of the app Instagram, and the results revealed that participants who did use Instagram reported lower levels of depression and anxiety, along with lower levels of loneliness and higher levels of self-esteem (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019). Social media sites have also found that their users’ sense of connectedness was higher than those who don’t use social media sites thus assisting with young people feeling more connected and as if they were part of a community where they could meet new friends and maintain strong relationships (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019). Despite the clear evidence that social media plays a strong role in the positive development of young peoples’ psychological wellbeing whilst also developing global connections, communities, and a sense of belonging, there are some arguments that might be made about the negative effects social media could have on its users.

Some people may argue that social media damages relationships between people rather than developing them. Firstly, it should be addressed that many people use social media for many different purposes. From online dating to online conversations about controversial topics of today’s complicated world, different people find different ways to feel satisfied from the multitudes of social media platforms. Maintaining a safe and healthy online reputation only develops when a person has a strong sense of maturity in order to completely understand the connotations of some of the content being shared today (Gerbaudo, 2012). Past research may have also suggested that these online technologies and platforms may be problematic or addictive thus contributing to potential negative consequences (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019) however, recent advances in these applications have allowed for users to apply time limits for chosen applications that they might have previously had trouble removing themselves from (Ferenstein, 2019). Additionally, users who are abusing others online can now be muted, blocked, or even banned from particular platforms if their offence was particularly harmful or threatening thus reducing the levels of self-consciousness or online anxiety within its users who obey the guidelines of these applications (Mackson, Brochu, & Schneider, 2019). It therefore becomes clear that the benefits of social media, including community building, inclusivity, ease of communication, and many more, cannot be neglected to be seen.

Social media has become an everyday tool for the majority of people of the contemporary world, especially with younger generations. It has become a way for many people to feel a sense of belonging when maybe they feel like they don’t belong in the communities that encompass their geographical locations or environments. The emergence of these digital communities has been especially important within today’s society where it has completely changed the way that we communicate, develop, and retain strong relationships with friends and family globally, along with bringing attention to particular issues or topics. Social connectedness develops as social media does, so we can be confident that as times continues to change, we will be able to remain connected, included, and heard. It was also discussed that particular applications such as Instagram are seen to be more intimate and therefore more effective in creating and retaining online relationships. Research also shows that those who use Instagram have been found to be less anxious, depressed, and lonely, yet more self-confident. Community is and will be forever changing, but so long as digital and social media platforms continue to develop and thrive, our sense of community and belonging will continue to stay vehement.


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Chopra, J. (2019, January 31). Teens say social media give valuable source of self-expression. Retrieved from The Pioneer:

Ferenstein, G. (2019, Janurary 31). How I Reduced My Social Media Use With App Limits. Retrieved from Forbes:

Gerbaudo, P. (2012). Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism.

Herrera, L. (2016). Social Media Bringing People Together. Retrieved from Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Social Media: (but were too Afraid to Ask):

Jackson, S. J., Bailey, M., & Welles, B. (2017). #GirlsLikeUs: Trans advocacy and community building online. Sage Journals.

Ling, R., & Campbell, S. W. (2012). Mobile Communication: Bringing Us Together and Tearing Us Apart.

Mackson, S. B., Brochu, P. M., & Schneider, B. A. (2019). Instagram: Friend or foe? The application’s association with psychological well-being. Sage Journals: New Media and Society.

Olafson, K. (2020, April 15). How to Use Hashtags: A Quick and Simple Guide for Every Network. Retrieved from Hootsuite:,content%20with%20that%20same%20hashtag.

Pittman, M., & Reich, B. (2016). Social media and loneliness: Why an Instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words. Computers in Human Behaviour.

Treem, J. W., Dailey, S. L., Pierce, C. S., & Biffl, D. (2016). What We Are Talking About When We Talk About Social Media: A Framework for Study. Sociology Compas.

16 thoughts on “Hey Siri, Play ‘Come Together’ by ‘The Beatles’; How Social Media has Helped to Unite People Globally

  1. Hello Kelsey,

    I like what you done with your conference paper. I agree that social media have widen our potential to collaborate and unite with other people in global scale. Social media makes things like sharing and finding information much easier. It would be easier to increase awareness in social media rather the traditional way. But is it a good thing to use social media for all this thing? Does using social media in daily basis can also bring people out from reality? Does it mean it good to be addicted to social media? I found myself so into social media but not because social media is fun, I just found social media take e away from reality. It is ironic how people build awareness in social media but at the same time bring people away from reality.

    over all I very much enjoy your paper.

    Best Regards
    Christopher Benson

  2. Hi Kelsey,

    First of all, I love the title of this paper! Definitely attention grabbing and made me want to read it!
    Secondly I couldn’t agree with your paper more, and I think social media is such an integral part of the younger generations, and it’s great that it can be used to form communities with people across the globe. I also liked how you brought up the point that if a user is being abusive online you have the option to block them or potentially get them banned from whatever platform they are abusing on. Whilst this option is available, do you think people use it as often as they should?

    Thanks for the interesting read, Amy.


    1. Hi Amy,

      Thanks for the comment! I thought that it would be important to address the point that social media may not be for everyone, so if at any point an online persona is making you feel uncomfortable, it should be clear that you have to option to remove them from your community.

      As for you question about whether or not this option is being used as often as it should, I would say that it is not. One reason may be that people are unaware that blocking, muting, or banning people is an option. Other reasons may relate to the reputation that you create when you remove a person from your online community. I personally feel that it shows a sense of self-confidence, but others may interpret it as an attack or some other form of negative response. I would also touch upon the fact that many times, the blocking function is abused by people who think of it as a funny joke.

      So to conclude my answer to your question, no, I do not think that people are responsibly using the blocking function as often as they should. It is there to make online users feel safer within their online communities, so why not utilise it?

      Thanks again for the thought-provoking comment!


  3. Hey kelsey!
    Thank you for your paper. It was quiet informative about the impact of social media in our everyday life. You mentioned about how social media can benefit us and people who can’t fit in the community. I agree with you. However I waned to know about its cons? How social media can affect our substantial and psychological health?

    1. Hi Noodhish!

      Thanks for the comment! In my paper, I briefly touch on some on the biggest concerns revolving around digital and social media use. I found that many people would argue that social media negatively impacts a person’s mental health, but I found an article that discusses that social media has the potential to strengthen a person’s self-esteem and sense of belonging, thus strengthening and benefitting their psychological wellbeing. Mental wellbeing relating to social media should not be overlooked, but should definitely be researched regarding to both the benefits and drawbacks.

      Thanks again for the comment!

  4. Hi,
    Firstly Kelsey, well done on your paper. It’s a great addition to the conference and the communities and social media stream. I think you did a great job supporting your thesis of the positive aspects of social media while acknowledging that the counter is also apparent and genuine.

    Following Saranya’s comment below, it is interesting that community building is not always visible on social media sites because of functions like the chat feature. Regardless of the public nature of conversation and community, social media connects people and their participation creates belonging within a community. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

    I strongly agree that social media has given individuals the ability to connect and become part of communities based on shared interests through digital affordances like hashtags rather than physical location. No matter how niche – people form and find their own groups, and I think that this type of community is fantastic for people who have found it hard to find that based on the offering in their location or social limitations.

    Great work on a interesting paper.

    1. Hi Joseph!

      Thanks for the great comment! You made a very interesting point that I didn’t discuss much in my paper, and that was how social media builds communities both publicly and privately (or visibly as you put it). I completely agree; simply liking a comment on a post helps to create a relationship between people even though it may be unknown to them. They are relating non-verbally and strengthening bonds unconsciously.

      This is something that I would definitely consider doing more research into. The idea that we can unconsciously create connections with people online by simply liking a photo or, like you mentioned, using a niche hashtag.

      Thanks again for the comment, it really made me think!

  5. Hi Kelsey!
    This was a fascinating read! I completely agree that social media has helped people stay connected through the different platforms in different ways and I think this is extremely important today with COVID and the fact that people are unable to physically meet their friends and families and having to rely solely on the internet and social media platforms to keep in touch with them on a daily basis.
    Social media provides a ‘sense of connectedness as you’ve mentioned and I’ve myself experienced this on a daily basis as I’ve had to come back to Thailand because of COVID, I’ve been keeping in touch with all my friends in Sydney and this has only been made possible through social media.
    The argument you made about Twitter and the BlackLivesMatter Movement and how social media was able to bring people together in times like this is something that has helped the world for the better. The movement helped form relationships all around the world with people who are in the same boat whether it be celebrities or normal people in general, allowing them to come together for a cause they really believe in, keeping them connected.

    1. Hi Saranya!

      Thanks for the comment! It’s great to hear some real life scenarios relating to the use of social media as a way in which we can create and maintain relationships. It’s not to say that humans can solely rely on online communication and relationships, but it does open a new platform in which to maintain particular long distance relationships, or as you mentioned, it becomes extremely useful in today’s contemporary world where there is a pandemic.

      Thanks again for the comment!

  6. Hi Kelsey,

    A great paper that I 100% agree with. I think it is so incredible how we can connect and form relationships with people we have never met around the world and feel a sense of belonging. I really resonate with the point you made about Twitter and the #BLM and the power of social media bringing people together. The Black Lives Matter Movement helped form relationships with regular people and celebrities, professional athletes ect. forming a bond over achieving one similar goal and these connections were brought together due to the availability of social media.


    1. Hi William. Thanks for the comment!

      I completely agree with you statement about digital and social media possessing the power to create connections with people who share a similar goal. Thanks to tools such as social media, we are not only able to express our own opinions, but we are also able to better educate ourselves about global events.


  7. Hi Kelsey, I’ve read your paper and I’m fascinated that you elaborate all the point, also giving the arguments on why does social media especially social media platform can unite the world. I also experienced the moment when im connected to a new friends from countries outside Australia and until now we’re still friend. But My question is you said on your paper that a study shows that people using Instagram have low level of depression, anxiety, loneliness and high level of self esteem.

    I read an article published on 15 May 2019, there is a Malaysian girl decided to end her life after seeing her own instagram poll when she asked ” Choose life or death?’. And 69% of the people voted death. Afterward, this Malaysian woman decided to kill herself. This of course due to several issue and related to the high level of depression (not the low level of depression). I wanted to know what do you think about that relating to your statement that social media bring positive impact which can develop connectedness and relationship among each other rather than breaking the relationship?


    1. Hi Youshua. I think that thoughts similar to yours are completely valid. Although many studies have shown that social media helps to develop a person’s sense of connectedness and therefore sense of belonging, there are some cases (as you mentioned) where this has not been the case. I think that the ways in which we choose to use social media plays an extremely important role in the effects we feel from it. In the example you expressed, it seems as though the Malaysian woman wasn’t using social media to develop stronger connections with people across the world, but more as a means to validate her personal struggles or issues.

      It is clear that social media has its negative aspects (as addressed in my paper), but I feel as though when it is used responsibly and for beneficial purposes, digital and social media plays a crucial role in increasing a person’s sense of belonging, especially in today’s world where technology is growing and changing.

      Thanks for the question!

  8. Hello Kelsey! Thank you for the great read! I agree that social media has helped unite groups and empower individual. I also have experienced this “sense of connectedness” myself, and with it a better sense of self-worth, which I’m extremely glad for as I have ADHD and depressive tendencies. As what you say in the paper is bound to also happen to different communities and people of extremely opposing political agendas, I’m curious as to what you think would be a good mediator to the different sides? Because I find it difficult to reconcile the idea that the diversity could peacefully co-exist. Thanks again! Regards, Roosdy.

    1. Hi Roosdy. Great comment!

      I completely agree that people of opposing political agendas are not particularly likely to peacefully co-exists in these online communities. However, because most of contemporary digital and social media takes place in the public eye, I think that perhaps a good mediator would be other members of the public who are wishing to share their voice too.

      I would like to believe that if an online discussion on particular topic is getting aggressive or out of hand, that other members of the same community would step in to assist in mediating. Also, as I mentioned in my paper, some people who utilise social media may have the intention of creating conflict and abusing their power to voice their opinions in a mature manner.

      I do not dismiss the fact the digital and social media may come with some controversies such as this, but I do believe that it’s advantages must be considered as well.

      Thanks again for the comment, it really made me think!

      1. Hi! This is very true – “some people who utilise social media may have the intention of creating conflict and abusing their power to voice their opinions in a mature manner.” I find the wide range and variety of emotional responses that we see online to be rather interesting. I definitely find Instagram to be helpful for my self esteem (and ego) at times, but I think because of the instantaneous positive reward that it gives, the opposite might also be true, that people tend to be quite easily riled up when their dose of dopamine is interrupted. However, with all socializing it’s up to the individual to find and spread positivity, which I tend to think what contributes to the potentiality of unity. Beyond the slightly trivial cause, I remember there was an article covering professional trolls, who apparently make up to 100k monthly posting derogatory comments and starting arguments for various reasons, such as engagement and/or political reasons. So there is definitely incentive in causing trouble. In fact they’re starting to get serious attention from the government recently:

        I hope you’re having a great week so far! Roosdy

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