So I am absolutely aware that I’m not the first to talk about this topic, nor am I the second, or third, or hundredth… you get my point. However, I wanted to add my two cents (or pennies as I’m British).
First off, let me say that I am an avid user of social media. I have many accounts and, although I’m not as active as I used to be, it is part of daily routine. I also have to thank social media for the fact that although I am thousands of miles away from friends and family, I’ve been able to keep *most* of them in a good condition.
However, the more I think about social media and discuss it with my good friend, the more I see the dangers and faults of it. I’m aware that this is probably going to get a little ranty more than rambly – apologies in advance. Let me finally say that I know that not everyone falls into these problems, so don’t feel like I’m pointing at you.
- Let me tell you about the sandwich I ate…
When we talk in a real conversation, we filter. We prioritise the most important information because we don’t know how long we’ll have a listener. We think Well they probably want to know about my new house but they probably won’t care that I ate a chocolate bar yesterday. However, on social media some people don’t prioritise because they don’t need to. Social media means that there is always a listener/viewer and there are often so many ‘friends’ that will see it that you don’t have to tailor your news to your audience because someone will care. It also means that if you overshare, it is unlikely to be called out, whereas in real life the look on someone’s face would be the instant confirmation that you shouldn’t have said that.
2. I care..but only this much.
I won’t go into how it creates the illusion that we all have hundreds of friends who care about us. On the other hand, I do think that although it can create connections between people who are far apart from each other, it also creates fake connections. Let me explain: when I post a status about something happening in my life, I have the same group of people comment. If I could place bets, I would be making money. The issue is that these people do not contact me, they don’t talk to me, they literally use status’ to communicate with me. And I’m not cool with that. If you want to know how I am, then ask me. I’ve heard the excuse of ‘We know you’re busy so we don’t want to interfere’ but it’s bull. If you cared enough, you’d interfere – at least that’s how it feels. Please note that I have actually reached out to these people to try and talk to them but it must be too much effort to move the mouse to the private conversation box from the newsfeed.
3. Good news for you, good news for you, everyone has good news!
I’m not old enough to know how it used to be, but I can imagine. If someone said ‘Oh, she graduated university!’ or ‘She just got a new job!’ then it was news and it was special and it deserved to be celebrated. The problem now is that we have so many people in our circles that these special events aren’t rare anymore. Heck, even someone having a baby is sometimes met with ‘Oh great, another baby’ because our screens are full of photos of friends’ babies when in reality most of those babies are the spawn of strangers. It creates this idea that everyone has these big life events, so they aren’t that special anymore.
For many people they have to ask themselves. Is my life interesting? Is my relationship perfect? Do I look amazing in my photo? Are people jealous of my holidays? Then they post status’ or photos and get that instant validation that they wanted.
Even to the point that people want to feel cared about. I’m sure we’ve all seen them. They throw out the line and wait for a fish to grab on.
That person: Grrrr! I can’t believe this!
Fish: Oh no!! What happened babe?
That person: Oh I’ll pm you.
In reality that fish is probably just a nosy parker who doesn’t actually care but they’ll bite to find out whether the news is gossip worthy.
Then for some it generates comparison because everyone has the highs (and the lows) so we need to one up it. We need to give the new and shiny information. The flawless photos. The exciting news. We’re competing for attention to stop that person scrolling. The majority of people only post about the positive in their life so there are so many highs that we want to make sure ours are higher. Some people regularly post about the negative things in their life, but unfortunately I think that makes people tune out. A bit like the boy who cried wolf – how does someone know when you really need help. We become desensitized.
4. Tradition of Gossip
Let me set the scene. You’re at your parents or grandparents or whoevers and they lean forward and say, “Did you hear about your cousins/uncles/aunties/local random person?” and proceed to go into a 10 minute monologue detailing the tales of said person.
I remember being at my grandmother’s house and the vast majority of the visit being filled with stories about my cousins.
The other day my mother said “Did you hear about…?” and my answer was “Yeah, I saw it on facebook” which pretty much killed the conversation.
This got me to thinking. A lot of the older generation relied on these stories, these pieces of news to pass on to the rest of their family. They don’t keep up with modern music or the hit TV shows, and many of the younger generation don’t keep up with the news…it was the middle ground, the key to the conversation. How has social media affected this?
Now, when someone has a piece of news we are much more likely to read it off a screen than to hear it from a mouth. Isn’t that sad?