If you haven't, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow in 1996 is one of those early internet documents that you should read.
From today's vantage point, JPB's words almost seem naive. The internet is increasingly regulated, monitored, censored, adulterated. Commentary of the effects of internet media on the "real" world is nearly always some lament about its pernicious influence.
I believe social media will eventually reveal itself as an overwhelmingly beneficial invention. But for that to happen, it must free itself from the shackles of political and commercial control.
Attempts like Gab replace a flawed centralized network with another. Tools like Diaspora turned out to be incredibly difficult to use. The jury is out on Mastodon (I have not used it extensively yet).
A new network should take some cues from WhatsApp. End-to-end encryption. Mobile first. Low, low bandwidth. No ads, with an option to subscribe.
And then it should be open source, do all its computing at the edges, and devolve all power to the end user.
There are some promising beginnings out there, things like Mind, Sola, Memo, Steemit. I'm going to spend time using all of them over the next few weeks and report back. If you have one that you like in particular, let me know.