My Love-Hate Relationship With Social Media – Can ISYS6621 Help?

At the most profound level my relationship with social media must be described as a typical love-hate-relationship. I love getting lots of information and feeling connected with so many people, but I hate the never-ending stream of content that can often feel simply overwhelming. When I registered for the course I knew that my own social media skills were less than polished, especially for someone belonging to the millennial cohort. This is in itself the result of this strange relationship thing I’ve got going with social media.

I guess first and foremost, my hope for this course is to gain a better understanding of what drives the social media phenomenon, and how I can learn to love it, and thus use it more effectively. I know that digital media and all of its social aspects are here to stay, and that – if anything – it is going to become ever more powerful, especially as business is increasingly driving it. Therefore, (and it scares me that I’m writing these next few words) I know that to be a fully functional member of this modern-day society, I had better deal with my qualms and overcome the hate I feel for certain aspects of social media. I think ISYS6621 can give me useful insights into what my peers’ perspectives on social media are, how they use it, and how to strategically leverage these insights from a personal as well as business point of view. But first let me explain where my conflicting feelings about social media are coming from.

Love Hate Relationship of Social Media

Love Hate Relationship of Social Media

Let’s start with the love part. After graduating from high school in 2004, I moved to the United States to be an Au Pair. At that time it was exciting to be away from my family and friends, and focus on new friends. This included severing ties because no one then was using social media networks (what basic, nay, primitive versions existed back then), I’m not sure Skype had been invented, and ICQ (remember??) was a thing, which none of my family members knew how to use anyways. This worked great for the two years I spent as a nanny, but then in 2008 I moved to the U.S. permanently, and I knew email and telephone weren’t going to do it for me as I wanted to keep in touch with friends and family everywhere. Luckily, by that time there had been an explosion of digital media, and I’ve been using primarily video chats and Facebook to keep my loved ones in Germany, especially my parents, informed on what’s going on in my life, and see what they’re up to. In other words, I started living part of my life on Facebook and Skype to share it with people far away.

And for a long time that was as far as my social media use went, because I never saw the need for anything else. Of course, eventually LinkedIn would be added, as well as a few other networks and apps. Yet, I never became an early adopter of anything, and only started using social media once they’d crossed a critical threshold where enough of my friends and family were on it to make them useful (remember the network effect?).

I must admit, though, that I am in awe of how powerful and integral social media have become. Whenever a big event happens, millions can participate, comment, and share. Be it the ice bucket challenge or news about an earthquake or a political revolution, everything has become interactive and instant. Moreover, social media have begun to really move things in the world.

Another part I love about digital and social media is the wealth of news I can get. It has become part of morning routine to first do a brief scan of digital news outlets, and (yes, I’ll admit) of Facebook so I can start day well informed and in the loop.

And this is also already where the hate part of the relationship with social media comes in. The “wealth” I just described so quickly becomes an overwhelming flood of content that I have not yet figured out how to master it. Since I started using twitter, it agitates me every time I look at my feed how much information there is that I could never possibly get through given the limited time I have. So what good is all that content, if I can’t even fully look at, let alone apprehend, it.

Similarly, it annoys me beyond words how we all have become slaves to our devices. So often I find myself glued to the screen of my smartphone when I know I should be paying attention to what’s happening around me. People have not learned how to appropriately detach themselves, especially when they are in situations where they should be paying attention to their fellow humans, rather than their droids.

Lastly, the power of digital business first freaked me out, then started to annoy me. After doing a search on Google for a product, then going to a physical store and buying the product, is there a way to tell Google that it can stop stalking me with ads for a product that I now already own, please?

Yet, I know as someone who is looking at a career in marketing I know that it will be part of my job to find ways to engage with consumers in ways they find useful and appealing, to leverage data and knowledge of those consumers to affect their buying behavior, and know how to use social media from a consumer as well as a seller’s perspective. So I know I have my work cut out for me, and I look forward to learning from my classmates and hopefully turn my relationship with social media around.

Stay tuned – I’ll report back at the end of the semester!

6 comments

  1. Hi Christine,

    So first of all, I am guilty for being a slave of my device. As I talk about it in my blog, I have a social media problem, and love to be connected and knowing what everybody is doing. As you said, is overwhelming, but I think as a Millennial, I can handle it. Is funny that you said that you have a love-hate relationship with social media, because I have a lot of friends that feel that way. I think the trick is to know that not every social media type is for everyone. I am an addict of Intagram, Snapchat and Facebook (maybe I just ike seeing what people are doing), but I can’t handle Twitter, as you said in your post, is really overwhelming, and at the end you read a little bit about each news, but really you don’t know a lot. And talking about news, I like that in your post you tell us that one of your things is reading news on social media, and actually I am the same. Every morning I wake up and read news in Snapchat, which can sound weird, but it is really amazing, they have the Daily mail, CNN, Mashable and my guilty pleasures Cosmopolitan, People and the Food Network.

    Finally, I think is really interesting how you talk about how social media has helped you communicating with your family and friends back home, and I feel I have the same experience because I have all my family in Venezuela and my friends around the world. And I think is really impressive how I can know what everyone is doing, not just because of text message, but because of them posting pictures on Instagram, giving life updates on Facebook or just making a video on Snapchat.

  2. It’s crazy that Skype and Facebook were only the beginning stages of the social media explosion. My parents are always quick to remind me that they communicated with their parents back home about once per week through a phone where they had to wait in line at their dormitory during college. Today, most of us are in constant communication with our parents, no matter what part of the world we live in. It is definitely something we take for granted most of the time. In addition, I can completely relate to your love/hate relationship with social media. I love being able to pop open twitter at any point during the day and get a great source of news and entertainment. However, it certainly takes away from other aspects of life. Many of us are far too addicted to our smartphones, and it takes away from both our productivity and our social skills. Another thing I related to in your post was the flood of information that social media brings. When I haven’t checked Twitter in a day, it’s almost not worth checking later because there is just so much stuff tweeted over the last 24 hours that it is hard to know when to stop scrolling through in order to catch up. Social media definitely brings an overwhelming element sometimes.

  3. Preach on! I just finished writing an eerily similar post :) I didn’t quite go so far as classifying my relationship as love/hate, but I certainly fall somewhere in the gray space in-between. I think my biggest qualm with social media is that – as you said – no one pays attention to the world around them. People no longer live for the moment, but for the moment that they can then share on Facebook, etc. One example: people at concerts who are watching the band through the small screens of their smart phones. Let the music wash over you and just enjoy!

    With that being said, I also agree with you on the joy I get out of the connectivity that social media provides my life. I have many friends scattered around the country that I’m typically only able to stay in touch with via social media. Oftentimes we aren’t even speaking together directly, but instead I see their updates in my feeds and feel like I’m a part of their life because I have some knowledge of what they’ve been up to.

    I’m certainly looking to up my social game this semester – providing myself with a new level of comfort to explore a variety of platforms I may not have otherwise experienced.

  4. Christine, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this love/hate dichotomy many struggle with. I would say that I fall more under the love camp, but there are certain repercussions of heavy digital use that I don’t love. For instance, how I let being distracted by Facebook take over my interactions with my family (which I know is more on me that the platforms themselves). I also hate how the same tool that can bring mass awareness and connectivity can also bring about mass harm and bullying – often from cowardly sources of anonymity. That said, I too wake-up to scan for news through social platforms, I totally remember (and heavily used) ICQ, and I would have never been able to sustain the high school friendships I still have if it were not for Facebook. I do like receiving targeted ads based on my browsing behavior and have found the resulting offers/coupons to be helpful as a consumer. I hope our discussions this semester will help you turn around the relationship! It can be a powerful tool for good :)

  5. I really enjoyed hearing your unique introduction to SM due to moving so far from home. It has grown to be such a convenient tool to stay connected with people and I too am curious to see how it changes even more in the future.

  6. You love the connection but hate the overwhelming feeling of information overload. This succinctly describes how many people feel, I think. You’ve used the tools of social media in multiple ways, and you seem much more aware than most people of SM impact on your life. You post made me think …. thank you.

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