6 Things Social Media has Taught Me

How social is social media? Does not all media imply some social component that connects individuals on polar ends of the World Wide Web? Some people may argue that not all media is social, only outlets that offer direct connectivity between individuals may be deemed social. A key aspect of social media is that in implies shared communication, a reciprocal exchange of conversation between two or more people. The creation of the Internet amidst the ‘Cyber 90s’ sparked the foundation for innovations in online forums where individuals could connect, send aim messages, and held the privilege of sharing the same line of dial-up Internet as everyone in their household. Millennials particularly have grown up in a digitally savvy society from a young age, making them technologically more fluent than their parents.

We live in an a-synchronous society where messages, texts, tweets, posts, and statuses are all instantaneously delivered with immediacy. Advances in social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter have become integral parts of our every day lives. We wake up every morning giving our smart phone programed alarms enough time so we may start our days by scrolling through every mode of social media. Yet how social has social media actually made us?

We find greater preference in texting than physical face-to-face contact. We walk around with our heads bonded to our smart phones so that we may avoid the real people around us. Though social media has enhanced communication methods across global landscapes, it has also altered the way individuals make themselves present in the real world. Nonetheless social media has taught me a few things about society in broad-spectrum:

  1. Presentation is everything

We are all guilty of it. We find ourselves editing our photos, buffing up our LinkedIn profiles, making sure to post news of recent job offers and internships. We innately crave validation as human beings, whether that validation be about our physical appearance, social status, or personal success. We want to appear we hold this perfect life because if others believe it, it becomes more realistic to ourselves.

  1. People are actually bad at listening

How often have you found yourself in deep conversation with a friend, only to realize their head has been glued to their Facebook newsfeed the entire time forcing you to repeat yourself? And I’m no hypocrite. I’ve been on both sides of that story. We subconsciously put more effort in exponentiating our connections than sustaining quality relationships with those we already know.

  1. Freedom of speech doesn’t come so lightly

Communication forums like Facebook and Twitter allow individuals to voice their opinions freely amongst their peers. Yet anything and everything can be perceived as offensive. Commonly you will scroll through Facebook and find a political or racially offensive status by some random peer in high school you never actually talked to. It sparks conflict and confrontation, which is naturally part of discourse. However this excess noise on social media strays people away from engaging in quality discussion to merely idle quarrelling.

  1. Fact is Fiction and Fiction is Fact

With so much clutter on the Internet it’s hard to decipher what is real and what is fake because anything these days can be altered to look factual. We heard it several times as kids, “Don’t believe everything you hear”. Well not it goes to show we can’t believe everything we see as well.

  1. Procrastination should be listed in WebMD

I almost envy the days where social media was non-existent, maybe then it would only take me an hour to finish a class assignment rather than five. It’s an actual illness, the compulsion to need to check every mode of social media in order to update ourselves on every 15 minutes of people’s lives because so much has probably happened in those 15 minutes. What did they eat for lunch? Where did they go last night? Did they post pictures? Who’s on the recent BC Senior Five? We’re inundated with an immense flow of information of the social lives of others we fail to acknowledge the information that actually matters in the moment. Write your paper.

  1. Privacy is extinct

Your 2 second snap chat is not extinct. It’s still there. Maybe not in a screenshot, but its out there in the mysterious realm of the Internet we still don’t fully understand. Along with everything we send on the Internet, there always remains an aspect of involuntary surveillance. Whether it be a ‘private’ message you send to a friend or an image you post on your ‘private’ Instagram. All things are shareable and traceable. Thus people should be consciously aware of the information they chose to share, as non-disclosure is non-existent amidst the online web.

This blog is not intended to be a cynical rant on why to despise social media or to disregard the fact online forums have not allowed us to affectively collaborate at quicker and greater measures. It’s simply a wake up call to this generation and every other to make themselves present in the physical world they preside in.

5 comments

  1. Wonderful post! Although social media is often praised for its role in globalization and eliminating borders, it’s important to also consider the negative impact of social networks. It’s terrifying how superficial Instagram is. The story of Madison Holleran, a University of Pennsylvania track athlete, illustrates the distance between reality and our cultivated digital persona. From her Instagram, Madison looks happy, social, and successful. Unfortunately, she committed suicide in January 2014.

    I echo your frustration about the lack of listening skills. There is nothing more irritating than being halfway through a story when you realize your friend is scrolling through her Facebook NewsFeed. Social media can be a huge distraction from day-to-day tasks and real life interactions.

    Digital privacy is another important facet of social media. According to the Star Tribune, Google has evaluated 310,000 requests to remove more than 1.1 million URLs. The removal rate is slightly over 40%, meaning that many requests are ignored and never executed. Should Internet users have “the right to be forgotten?” It’s an interesting conversation that combines digital media and privacy standards. You can read more here: http://m.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/327432501.html?section=/opinion

    I really enjoyed reading your perspective! I have no doubt that we will learn about positive uses of social media throughout the semester.

  2. It’s interesting to see how although Social Media is making the entire world a much more interconnected place (and particularly, severely easing global/remote connections), it is making us less aware of our immediate surroundings, including those who are immediately around us. This is particularly emphasized in points 2 and 5 of your article. I actually believe that although Social Media seems to be the culprit behind this social phenomena, it is the concept of MOBILE that is causing the problem more directly. Actually, laptops and tablets would not cause the same level of distraction, nor would they force people to remain constantly plugged in; its just that when someone checks their phone, even if its just for the time, curiosity about notifications, various social networks, etc. tends to make us stay on our phones for much longer than what we originally anticipated. Studies with the Apple Watch and other wearable gadgets have actually proved that they cause significantly LESS distraction and much more attentiveness to immediate surroundings than do phones, even though one would assume these wearables would create even more of an incentive to remain plugged in. I loved your article and really appreciate your personal and lightly humorous blogging style, this was a fun read!

  3. Great post! In terms of presentation it is interesting that you say people try to portray their best self via social media. I often wonder, are people trying to show their best self, or their ideal self. Often, I feel as if people have different identities on and off social media. Maybe they hope by creating this new identity on social media people will portray them as such in real life. I completely agree with your “people are bad at listening point”. Over the weekend, I attended a concert and someone in one of the front rows was just scrolling through her phone and not paying any attention to the concert where the ticket cost $100+. I myself was not in the front row but was in the nose bleeds so how do I know this individual wasn’t listening to the concert? One of the band mates themselves called the person out for scrolling through their phone and not paying attention. Hopefully the girl learned her lesson to listen more! When you say you cannot believe everything you see online I think that especially applies to Instagram. These days there are so many photoshop apps and filters out there that what you see may not be exactly as it appears in the post. Overall, great post with excellent points made.

  4. Great post. Thanks a lot for sending a wake up call to all of us! I loved how you began your post with examples I can totally resonate with and relate to. We find ourselves checking our phones first thing in the morning and last thing before going to bed. We also avoid each other by looking at our phones constantly. Everytime I get on the train to go to school: I look around and everyone literally everyone around me is looking down at their phones too. Even if I force myself and try to keep my phone away, I find myself looking back at it again. We have become bad listeners and no longer treasure conversations. We procrastinate work and leak data about ourselves. All that is definitely true. But by being on social media we also gain many benefits that might outlie the costs. It is never too late for us all to wake up and know that we should use social media effectively and in moderate doses. Even if we choose to be extensive users, we should keep all these lessons in mind to make the best use of the platforms in ways that serve our best advantage. I loved how you had headings and pictures within your blogpost and everything was organised, clear, and direct. Great points!

  5. rebeccajin06 · ·

    Loved your post! You brought up some negatives of social media that we might not even realize affect us on the daily. For example, your procrastination point is something that we all do but probably don’t even recognize because it is such a normal habit now. In the past you could only procrastinate by maybe going and talking to your friends but now even when you’re alone studying, you’re not really “alone” with the constant presence of what’s available on the internet and mobile phone. I also enjoyed your commentary on freedom of speech because I believe that one of the largest issues with social media is miscommunication. While political or personal discussions used to be had in person with emotion and expression involved, nowadays a simple Facebook post could become a public outcry. Even seemingly innocent posts can be misconstrued into something they are not. I think this is especially relevant now as the 2016 election is around the corner and many opinions are being shared on social media. For me personally, social media doesn’t exactly seem like the correct platform to be sharing your political positions but the concept of discussion is rapidly changing with social media so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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