Tell the truth: when you hear that a friend doesn’t have a Facebook account, don’t you look at them with a side eye? If someone you just met tells you they aren’t on Instagram, don’t you feel some type of way? If the guy you just went out with doesn’t know what Twitter is, are you thinking of brushing him off? If you’re a person who spends a significant amount of time on one or more of the aforementioned websites, imagining a person who DOESN’T spend time on these seems a bit odd. You may even start to think they have some type of social issues, perhaps being introverts who have few friends and family, because these sites bring you closer to everyone, right?
The world of social media has definitely taken this world by storm. If you ask anyone to define the term, they would say something along the lines of this: the overall interaction of people through networking on various online websites, geared towards reconnecting with friends, family, colleagues, and creating new networking opportunities. If you asked someone to keep it real and tell you what social media truly is, they would describe to you a universe of self-taken photographs, narcissism, secret stalking, time-wasting, selective life-sharing, abusive over-sharing, and a place that gives stupid videos a larger audience, and longer shelf life than necessary.
You probably know of someone who is utterly consumed by all of these sites, and often cannot go a day without logging on, posting on their wall, re-tweeting, or filtering their 30th photo of the day. This person sounds completely crazy and you might even make fun of them- but you do it all the same and it just may be YOU. As you try to defend your um, “friend”, or yourself, you might plead to the skeptic that Facebook allows you to connect with your high school buddies. Twitter lets you share your thoughts without all the extra-ness of the Book. And Instagram is a cool way to post pictures to share with said friends and family. Again, it’s all about connection, right? You’re closer to your people, right? WRONG. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
Think about it. Try and recall the last time you were out to dinner with your friends. I’ll give you my own example- last night. I went out for a party, and while at dinner, the majority of the table was on their phones all at once. Now, this is not a knock on anyone, because I was on mine too. I felt the need to send a picture of my margarita with a bachelorette party themed straw in it to my buddy. I thought it was hilarious and felt that in THAT moment, he really needed to see this photograph. Well, because he wasn’t there and of course his life would not go on if I didn’t send him the pic. After I made a few people blind with the flash on my camera, I looked up and smiled. The smile came from a sense of hilarious embarrassment, as I made a comment to the group inquiring what on Earth we did without smartphones. We all kind of just of just laughed and said we talked to each other more. And that night, there was definitely a lot of conversation, laughter, and general fun, but the phone distraction was always lingering. Whatever happened to just living in the moment? When did it become so crucial to let everyone else know what we’re doing right at the moment it happens? and send them a picture of it in the best of lighting?
I feel this is the most ironic aspect of “unsocial” media. Rather than allowing the universe to learn of events in a normal sequence of time, we have now grown accustomed to letting everyone know what’s going on RIGHT NOW. Even if you are not the most forthcoming individual, you now have it ingrained in you that you must tell everyone who wants to pause their newsfeed that you got engaged or that your child pooped for the first time. I must reiterate that there is nothing wrong with sharing this type of information. I’ve blogged previously about avoiding “selfie” hate and also have a general feeling that everyone should be able to do what the F they want. However, this need to instantly provide this information to everyone has taken out the true joy of a lot of the feelings, emotions, and events.
I truly think that people forget that they are sharing these precious moments with people who probably shouldn’t be so privy to this information in the first place. For the avid social media user, your “friends” list or people you allow to look at your photos is definitely a larger list than the people who you have on speed dial in your phone. Granted, you accepted that friend request from the guy who had a crush on you in 3rd grade and he looks to be a cool guy, but should he really be a part of your moment when you post your ultrasound photo announcing to the world you’re having a baby boy? Is your coworker’s kid sister who you hung out with at a party once seriously special enough to learn that your boyfriend asked you to spend the rest of your lives together? Which leads to my last question, if you’re freshly engaged and Facebook/Instagram/Twitter had not been created, what would you do? That’s right, you’d call your mom and then your BFF next- and have a CONVERSATION about it. You might even visit them. Because that’s the way it should be- not the first thing your ex-boyfriend sees on his newsfeed when he wakes up in the morning.