Social Media: Blessing or Burden?

INTRO

I am a “moderate” user of social media. I would use the word confused to summarize my overall feeling toward social media. That being said there are certain aspects of social media that are enjoyable. I view my social media accounts as a necessary burden: I need them for the positive features that they offer and I must deal with or ignore the rest. I  believe everyone has a unique experience on social media, and while most of us are on social media, we each use social media platforms in a different way. In this blog I will break down my personal experiences with and observations of social media across three major platforms that I use: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

FACEBOOK

Facebook provides the user with the ability to stay in touch with friends and colleagues without the need for a cell phone number. Before Facebook loosing the phone number of an old friend could mean loosing contact with that friend forever. Facebook is a platform that allows the user to have the ability to stay in touch with or to instantly contact anyone that they have connected with on Facebook throughout their lifetime. Facebook also allows the people to contact each other without the need for a phone number. Facebook events are also very useful . They connect people in a way that a string of texts may not be able to, and they remind people of upcoming events.

Facebook news feed is brutal (or at least mine is). It largely consists of random posts, whether it be videos of a police chase, photos of a random night out, or shared articles that promote personal views on various controversial subject matter. 95% of the time these posts are by people that would be nearly unrecognizable if it were not for their frequent Facebook activity. It does not seem natural to know or to care about what 1000 people find funny or feel is important to say. It seems like a large waste of time and a consistently unfulfilling experience. In addition to this, Facebook requires time and effort to monitor the pictures that are posted about the user.

Random Facebook Post on my news feed:

Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 7.41.41 PM.png

TWITTER

Twitter is a very good news platform, and an effective way to stay in tune with personal interests. The moments section of Twitter is especially useful. It provides real time news updates on everything that is trending. Not everything trending is important, but some of the things trending are, and that is enough feel the need to check the platform for news updates. Twitter is also faster at delivering the news that the actual news, and the collection of tweets and hashtags allow people to decide what news is important rather than letting the biased news networks decide.

The trend of personal tweeting, as a kind of status update among friends has slowed down substantially, but celebrities continue to tweet consistently. This does not mean that tweets disappear forever. They still exist within the platform, and they can be accessed and possibly retweeted. This is highly entertaining for everyone witnessing the tweet, but it can be bad for the person whose old tweet was re tweeted. The most recent case of this happened this Sunday after Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garappolo had his first Win in the NFL. The Tweets about Garappolo were mostly harmless, but much worse has been re tweeted from other celebrities. Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 7.27.54 PM.png

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is entertaining to scroll through and it is usually light and visually appealing. The fact that it arrived later than Facebook and has the option to follow and unfollow rather than friend and unfriend makes it easier to manage who is in the news feed. Photos (tagged and untagged) still need to be monitored for content, which again creates unnecessary work because the user must manage content due to concerns over image or privacy.

One of the things about Instagram that I don’t understand is the amount of work that goes into a successful Instagram post. Not all posts are the same. Some posts are memorial or sentimental, but for the sake of the argument lets say friends go to an enjoyable event, be it a game, a hike or the beach. They first have to pause their day to take photos, but not just any photos, “Instagram worthy” photos. And if the first photo shoot doesn’t go well there will be a second shoot and a third shoot with this constant concern about taking a photo good enough for Instagram before the exciting day or event ends. Once they finally capture the photo that is deemed worthy of Instagram they spend a significant amount of time choosing the filter that looks the best and trying to come up with a clever caption for the photo, and after the photo gets posted they monitor it to see how many likes it gets throughout the day. So by the end of the “fantastic” day, friends have taken a portion of time out of that day to show their followers how fantastic their day was, and monitor to see if the followers like the photo and also think the day was fantastic. It just seems silly. Why are likes on Instagram more important than the extra hour that could have been spent lying on the beach or watching the game?

7 comments

  1. Interesting post. I agree that most people are using different platforms in different ways. Although, I confess that I’ve not really gotten that much into Instagram. I think Twitter is under appreciated for all the reasons you mention, and hopefully ways you’ll come to appreciate in this class.

  2. vicmoriartybc · ·

    I see what you’re saying about the amount of effort that goes into a good Instagram post – both because I’ve been the poster in that situation, and also the annoyed friend taking a million photos before my friend finds the right one. One thing I’ve also noticed is that before a big event, or even a small event where there might be a photo op, people will say “we need to take a good Insta later.” It’s almost as if planning to post evidence of an event is more exciting than planning the event itself. While I usually roll my eyes at this, there have been incidents where I’ve realized that it’s been a while since my last post, and I’ll be the person saying that. I wonder if being self-aware of my slight obsession with social media makes it any better?

  3. What you said about Facebook letting you stay in touch with friends without needing a phone number was interesting. I have a friend form high school who refuses to get a Facebook and honestly it’s an inconvenience for the rest of us. We have to text her to invite her to events, then relay any new information from the Facebook event to her. She can’t be a part of group messages, and she’s out of the loop on most things.

  4. michaelahoff · ·

    Those Garappolo tweets highlight the rawness that makes Twitter great. Even a polished, Belichick’d out QB has let it fly on Twitter only to find out his thoughts weren’t that funny or interesting at all.

  5. I’m curious why these are the only three platforms that you use (or perhaps the only three you mentioned).

    I can definitely appreciate the notion of this necessary digital “burden” in the lives of a modern student. I personally enjoyed being one of the few people (it seemed) without a Facebook and saved a lot of time that way. But it was honestly impossible to keep up with all of the events happening with my various high school commitments so I was forced to join up. (I can’t even imagine trying to navigate college without one!) I similarly had no desire to get a LinkedIn until the hiring process was impending.

    I also liked your comparison of the scroll experience on each news feed. Facebook can be abysmal, and although I’m an Instagram hold-out (for the reasons you mentioned) I like the idea that you can actually catch up to where you left off. I could use something “light and visually appealing” as I absentmindedly scroll my way through (not this) class.

  6. I identify as “moderate” social media user as well. As we get older, I recognize its undeniable relevance and importance to stay up to date on current events, remain connected to friends and family who we may not see as often, to entertain ourselves during lulls in the day, and for businesses to expand their presence and customer reach. I agree wholeheartedly with your description of Instagram. I notice myself and peers suffering from a growing sense of pressure to not only have fun at certain events (i.e. games, nights out, hiking adventures, vacations), but to convince our followers of our positive experience. This pressure is growing so rapidly that sometimes I am convinced it takes away the original purpose or intent of the event itself and can strip it of its fun and enjoyment completely.

    I am looking forward to the fading of this pressure as more users join social media and its purpose shifts away from exaggerated depictions of past events to nostalgic collections of memorabilia.

  7. holdthemayo4653 · ·

    I love the Dwight office photo you included. Based on everyone’s aggressive instagram posting I’ve asked myself, “if an event occurs in the forest but no one posted it to instagram did it really happen”? That being said, out of the three channels you mentioned I prefer instagram the most. I was a late adopter and only friend or give access to people that are actually my friends! Shocker! This keeps my news feed full of pictures I actually care about and I don’t feel like my posts need to be epic.

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