I personally have a love/hate relationship with social media. I’ve never considered myself to be the savviest when it comes to the latest trend when it comes to social media which is both ironic and slightly concerning because my previous internships and current job offerings where pretty much offered to me because of my so-called “expertise” in the field. The truth is, I’m probably not the first person someone would think to consult when it comes to social media; maybe like the fourth or fifth (don’t notify my employers). I wasn’t allowed to have a Facebook until 2008, a couple of years after the majority of my friends, much less a MySpace (let’s be honest, how many people’s parents found it sketchy? 🙋🏻). I joined Twitter for a while in high school but became annoyed of it quickly (I recently looked back at what I wrote on that account and proceeded to rapidly delete it). I didn’t understand the purpose of Instagram for a long time, probably like a year and a half after everyone around me started using it; however, I must confess that it is a personal favorite platform to distract me from what I really should be doing as well as enable my online shopping habit that can more accurately be described as a low-key addiction. Most of my feed is clothing brands, boutiques, bloggers and food with the occasional friend or family member sprinkled in. And lastly there is Snapchat, which I actually downloaded quite at the start of its popularity, yet failed to actually involve it in my life until the summer before my junior year of college (yes that was only about a year and a half ago).
(Here is an example of my actual feed, where the forest picture is the only account of an actual friend)
And although I enjoy scrolling through Instagram and peering at people’s lives through their Snapchat stories, I sort of think it’s equally awful. Where is the mystery? Can you actually believe everything you see in people’s posts? It’s really difficult to know what is authentic and what isn’t when everything is on display for everyone else to see. As a girl I am especially aware of the negative impact it can have on confidence with all the ‘fitspo’ and blogger accounts with girls who constantly work out and are in shape. And literally everything enables FOMO (fear of missing out, but everyone knows that). Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook (I guess people use live?), everyone posts everything that they are doing at all times. It’s curious to think that you can literally see with your eyes who is hanging out without you, thank you Mindy Kaling. Peeking into other people’s every moment through a small lens can be deceiving however it causes others to wish they were doing something besides what they are actually doing. Inevitably this leads to actually missing out on one’s own life; as cheesy as it sounds, by being in touch with what everyone else is doing at every other moment, its easy to lose sight of living in your own moment.
The constant being tuned in to everything else also infiltrates relationships. If everyone knows, or thinks they know, everything there is to know about you through social media before you actually let them get to know you, what is there to know? Seems tricky, I know. How in the world are you supposed to make a friend or, even more so, date someone? It’s odd believe me. It single-handedly stifles the ability to cultivate new relationships.
As far as you’ve read, it seems like my first impressions aren’t too positive, but that’s the thing, social media constantly changes how people perceive; as much as I may be annoyed sometimes and I see negative aspects that it may contribute, I know that it creates a unique connection.
It starts a conversation where everyone can have a voice and not only is that necessary in our society today when it comes to human rights (i.e. the women’s march that blocked me from leaving my house all of last Saturday because the city was gridlocked) and things like the election, but also in the business sector. In the last couple years, social media has allowed everything to flourish; like I mentioned, most major companies have to have some social presence, because if not what are you doing? and be on top of the next thing to come in order to allow them to stay relevant, much less disrupt anything themselves. Social media allow people to form a connection, either to other people, to places, to things, to companies, brands and causes. These are the important effects of social media, in my opinion, and what intrigues me the most. This past summer I worked on a project at my internship that analyzed how different groups of people utilize social media. It has evolved from just being that those who belong in the Baby Boomer and Generation X groupings only use Facebook and millennials only use Snapchat. There are groups within these groups that use social media differently, for example my 14-year-old cousin has a secret Instagram and a public one; the secret one is followed only by her closest friends where she posts everything that occurs to her without any filter of what she includes whereas her public one is very, very highly curated. Generation Z is also referred to as the iGen because they grow up in a world, like that of my two-year-old nephew, where two-year olds know how to use an iPad better than I do. So I know I may seem slightly skeptical, and I admittedly am very much so, but I know that social media isn’t going away so I try to embrace the positive aspects (i.e. better shopping) and the conversation that it brings.