Millennials today have heard it a million times: having a booming social media presence can help you get a job and make vital connections. But on the flip side, one wrong move on Twitter or Instagram can ruin your reputation and destroy your brand just as quickly as it was created. And in the "Erase Your Social" episode of grown-ish, Zoey quickly learns about the struggles of using social media effectively — because not using it doesn't seem to be much of an option.
Any millennial can relate to the opening scenes of Episode 8. The waking up and immediately reaching for your phone only to drop it your face 10 seconds later. The desire to check your messages while you're taking a shower. Not being able to walk down the street without updating your Twitter status.
Zoey's first day at her Teen Vogue fellowship begins with the obvious selfie. And then about 50 more photos follow. She explains to Luca that posting is pertinent to the brand she's currently building. And while the excessive snapping can be annoying, Zoey is completely right. 67 percent of millennials say they plan on starting their own business one day, according to a survey conducted by Bentley University. And with social media being one of the fastest growing advertising markets today, not having a presence can actually harm one in the long run.
And Zoey isn't the only one using social media to put herself out there. Likewise, Aaron uses Twitter to send out links about global issues he cares about; Nomi uses the platform to share her passionate opinions on pop-culture; and Jazz and Skye use their accounts to show sponsors how they would be great brand ambassadors. And this is exactly what numerous career coaches today tell you to do: use social media to build the career and life of your dreams. So many people are getting book deals, modeling gigs, and more from social media, which is all fine.
The only problem is no one ever really talks about the don'ts of using social media and when they do, it's often an anti-technology message in general. When Zoey gets a semi-promotion at her fellowship and the opportunity to shadow the Editor-in-Chief she gets a firm warning "not to embarrass me" in relation to her heavy social media usage. So, Zoey decides to go cold turkey — too bad she's the only one in her friend group who's face isn't buried in their smartphone.
In order to keep her job Zoey feels like her only option is completely shut off her phone. Well, unfortunately, that's not smart for two reasons. First of all, that's not safe; and pretending Twitter and Instagram don't exist doesn't change anything, because let's face it: social media isn't going anywhere.
While there are times when its usage is totally unnecessary — like if you're about to go full out Nomi and troll celebrity accounts, take a walk — social media has been incredibly helpful in sparking important conversations and movements in the world today — i.e. #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and #LoveWins.
According to the American Press Institute, Millennials use all sorts of of social media networks to get their news. In fact, 88 percent of those surveyed in one study got news from Facebook, while 83 percent from YouTube and 50 percent from Instagram.
So where does that leave millennials today in terms of social media usage? To tweet or not to tweet is a real question and unfortunately, there's no hard and fast answer. Using social media is just one big balancing act.
And fortunately, instead of grown-ish patronizing young adults about their social media and smartphone usage, the show takes the opportunity to educate everyone on the downsides — being banned from Twitter and having an embarrassing video resurface — as well as the upsides — making connections with people around the world.
Now let's just hope that the next time Zoey takes a selfie in a fashion closet full of unreleased clothes, she checks her surroundings before posting.
Editor's note: After publication, we discovered this article did not meet our editorial standards: There were portions that did not correctly attribute another source. It has been updated to meet our standards.