In today’s modern society, the population is constantly being bombarded with new gadgets, all kinds of new media, and tons of information that people don’t necessarily need to know. We are living in a technologically obsessed society where information is power and social media is at the center of it all. Where do you go to find out information about your friends, family, and even complete strangers? If you’re like me, you simply turn to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, or whatever form of social media you have.
To say I’m an active social media user is an understatement. I may not actually post something regularly, but I’m always on it. Just reading what other people have to say or looking at pictures or liking funny otter videos that I’m perpetually always getting tagged in. I only actively participate in social media if I have pictures to post. Most of my extended family all has a Facebook so I’ll post pictures on there every once in a while, to keep them updated.
For example, my Nana lives out of town and really likes to see pictures and leave sweet comments on them. They include, “Looks like you’re having fun!” or “What a GREAT smile!” or something grandma-ish like that. Most of the time, this is the only way we talk to each other, unless its someone’s birthday. On one hand, this is how social media keeps us connected. Likewise, this is how social media keeps us disconnected. We don’t have to talk to each other on the phone to know what’s going on in the other one’s life. All we have to do is make sure we have an internet connection and check our social media sites to see what’s going on. And even so, our conversations aren’t really conversations at all. They’re quick little comments or compliments just to show that we saw a post or a picture. The leanness of conversation between myself and family members is sometimes appalling, but social media has made is acceptable and it has even become the norm in some cases.
By now you can see that social media has started to deteriorate relationships because interactions on these sites have altogether become less genuine. It’s not about what you say anymore, but if you said anything at all. On my last volleyball team, it was understood that you would like all of your teammates Instagram pictures whenever they post them. You would also be encouraged to write something in the comments, a simple emoji would be acceptable. The fire emoji, the heart eyes, or just hearts were always pretty standard and common. Or someone would say “yassss” or “hottie” or the ever popular “slay”. But why were we putting these comments? Did we actually feel that way about the picture or were we just giving them insincere praise to feel accepted and part of the team? These superficial relationships provide a false sense of friendship that is based around likes and comments and not actually on common interests or ideas.
Social media can have its drawbacks, but I don’t think people shouldn’t use it. It can still be a great way to connect with others who may be too far away to visit with. People maintain busy lives and don’t always have time to talk on the phone and tell you about their life and connecting through social media can be a better way to keep in touch. Most of the population checks their social sites in some way throughout the day. Sometimes in the morning before work or on a lunch break or after dinner. It can be quicker than sitting down and writing an email or having an hour long conversation over the phone. Often times, mediated communication can be a more convenient way for people to connect or stay connected.
In writing this, I’ve recognized where I haven’t used social media to its full potential. Maybe the next time my Nana comments something, I could message her to see how she’s doing for once. Instead of just liking one of my friend’s or relative’s photos, I could leave a comment to let them know I’m thinking about them or start a conversation. I haven’t always participated in wholehearted conversations or interactions on social media either so from now on I want to try to do my best to be as real as possible. I intend to improve who I am online so it matches who I am in real life and that my personality is the same no matter if there is a screen in front of me or not. Interacting on social media is a routine that has become part of my daily life and I hope to use it to keep connecting with people and to continue forming new friendships with others.