We all love a good TED Talk to encourage us and challenge our way of thinking and these TED Talks about social media are no exception.
While it’s easy to vilify social media and blame it for so many of the things that are ‘wrong’ in the world, the truth is, when used properly, social media can be an incredibly powerful connection tool in both of our personal lives and professional lives.
BUT, the key is understanding the negative effects it can have so we are aware of them, and learning strategies to ensure we don’t allow social media to take over our real lives and have a negative impact on our mental health.
The following TED Talks about social media explore different aspects of how social media fits into our world and into our lives, the positive and negative, and what we can do to understand it more.
1 – Why You Should Quit Social Media – Cal Newport
Have you ever considered taking a break from social media or quitting all together? Perhaps you have some internal objections or are worried that perhaps social media is actually fundamental in our society?
Cal Newport has never had social media but still manages to live a fulfilling and entertained life (are you shocked?).
In this TED Talk Cal addresses some common objections he hears about quitting social media and why he believes we should all quit social media.
You can find Cal’s book here – Digital Minimalism: On Living Better With Less Technology
2 – What Obligation Do Social Media Platforms Have To The Greater Good? – Eli Pariser
This is an incredibly interesting talk that looks at social media as a societal construct that lacks structure and ‘rules’ and therefore may influence how people behave.
He challenges us to question what our social media spaces would look like if they were a real, physical space (comparing LinkedIn’s workplace like structure to Twitter’s lack of structure).
Eli Pariser questions how social media platforms can learn from traditional structures of society and offline spaces to influence behavior for the greater good.
3 – Why Social Media Is Reimagining Our Future – Bryan Kramer
While we are bombarded with messages about why social media is bad, Bryan Kramer breaks through this noise of social media selling and capturing leads by telling stories with no intention other than telling a story.
He shifts the mindset that business is either business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C) and instead challenges it to be human to human.
He compels people to share their stories, because stories can change the world, and social media is the perfect platform in being able to do this because it allows us to share with so many people in such a simple way.
4 – Social Media Isn’t Real (Even If It Looks Like It Is) – Samantha Cohen
This talk by mental health advocate Samantha Cohen reminds us to remember that social media isn’t real, that Instagram feeds are carefully curated and highly edited images and lifestyles from ‘influencers’ and from normal people like you and me.
While social media has advantages in making connections easier, we need to be remember that it has also made it easier to ‘fake’ a lifestyle that doesn’t actually exist.
Understanding the proven influence social media has on your mental health is important so we can identify when we need to step back and take a break from social media.
5 – Impact Of Social Media On Youth – Kantu Mbevi
When we spend on average 2 hours on social media a day, it’s not a stretch to believe that it’s going to have a big impact on your life and your mental health.
Katanu talks about both the positive and negative impacts on social media with a particular attention to the impacts on youth, who are particularly susceptible to the comparative nature of social media.
This is a really nicely balanced talk that doesn’t just describe the negative impact but actually gives you ideas on how you can mitigate these impacts and use social media in a positive way.
6 – Can You Outsmart A Troll By Thinking Like One? – Claire Wardle
This is an incredibly interesting and slightly different TED Talk that looks at how social media is used to share disinformation and how strategies are actively employed and how users and information consumers react.
To recognize disinformation we need to understand the strategies used to spread it and thats exactly what this TED Talk looks at.
A good reminder that social media is not the place to find accurate information and how disinformation campaigns can be used to influence behaviours.
7 – Don’t Call People Out – Call Them In – Loretta J. Ross
Over the last few years in particular, we have publicly seen more and more an increase in hate towards strangers, particularly online and in the ‘comfort’ and ‘safety’ behind a keyboard.
While this talk isn’t specifically about social media, the ideas Loretta J. Ross shares can help us to think differently about what we see online and in particular, the cancel culture and cancel culture that is increasing online.
She invites us to call people in rather than call them out.
8 – Tips For Reclaiming Your Peace Of Mind Online – Naomi Shimada
This TED Talk is more of a TED interview and explores the impact social media can have on our levels of anxiety, and how it can actually show us what areas of our life we need to work on improving (for example, our own self esteem).
Naomi talks about how there are occasions where we may not be able to step away from social media, like when it is part of our jobs, but she does share how we can separate ourselves from social media and the online world.
9 – The Future Of Digital Communication And Privacy – Will Cathcart
Privacy and how data is stored, transferred, and used has been a huge point of concern lately, with major social media organizations like Facebook being called into question about how they use our data and who they allow to see and use our data.
This is an interesting conversation from the head of WhatsApp, who shares how the changes to society over the recent years and the inability to have face to face conversations has lead to a reliance on digital communication and encryption of that communication.
Will talks about the tech and protocols in place that allow these encryptions to happen and how they prevent data from being misused by safeguarding privacy.
This TED Talk / conversation is a really interesting look at the privacy side of the online world and how we need to be mindful of the data we freely giveaway.
10 – What I Learned From My Social Media Fast – Amber Quinney
In this talk, Amber Quinney shares how she challenged herself to a 30 day social media ‘fast’ and ended up staying off the platforms for a year, a time which she states allowed her to reconnect with herself and find her creativity again.
While Amber shares that social media can be good, after all she has first hand experience at using social media to create her business, she does share that it can have a defined impact on the brain.
Her talk encourages to be more mindful of our social media presence as well as our presence in our own real lives.
Be sure to save this post and come check back later – I have no doubt there will continue to be amazing TED Talks about social media shared and I will continue to update this post with new TED Talks as I hear them (if you have any recommendations, let me know).
Other TED Talk playlists you might like include: