Signing up for this class was an intimidating process as an MCAS student. Although this is not my first CSOM class, Professor Kane’s warning that this “class isn’t for everybody” sets this class up to be challenging. I was freaking out and still am, but I’m up for the challenge!
But, after this week’s class, it is obvious how rewarding this class will be. As a communications major and with my previous work experience, I feel like I have decent understanding of social media and it’s benefits towards promoting a club, a company, a brand etc. Yet even with some experience, social media is still an intimidating entity to me. I wanted to take this course to broaden my understanding on the subject, especially in how it affects the businesses and companies that have incredible amounts of influence on our daily lives. After Wednesday night, it was clear to me that this class will provide multiple different perspectives about social media- how it benefits us, how it negatively impacts us, and how it changes the way we think, act, etc.
On a personal level, I do consider myself a well-connected social media user. I prefer Instagram, VSCO, and Facebook and use these platforms as a way to express myself, to stay in touch with people, and to see what people are up to. On average, I probably spend a total of an hour a day scrolling through those feeds. Of course, there are days that I am constantly opening those apps and re-viewing or rereading content that I saw less than ten minutes prior or not fully engaging in a conversation because someone tagged me in a meme on Facebook.
Other days, I only go through my feed once or twice when I am slowly waking up and right before bed. For me, those are the best kind of days- when I forget or don’t care enough to leave the present moment to catch up on what other people are up to. I enjoy social media and do believe that there are good uses of it but I also see major flaws in it.
Even though I recognize them, I often find myself contributing to the flaws. My Instagram and Facebook profiles are thought out, edited, and tailored to only show the moments I think are “worthy” to show my followers/friends. There are also times when I find myself more concerned with what is on my news feed than what is going on around me “in real life.”
But with these flaws comes preventative or reactionary things I do to make sure that I am in the moment or portraying my real self online- like having all of my friends’ phones in the center of the table during dinner or hanging out, putting Do Not Disturb on more often, and editing a little bit less.
These are just a few of the many steps that have been “created” to counteract the negative effects social media and constant connectivity has on our selves, relationships, and daily outlook on what is realistic or not. It is crazy to think how much our screen time affects us and this is one of the things that came to mind when asked what my first thoughts towards social media! And I know that it’s the future and that all businesses are moving towards innovation and use of social media, but I am concerned about how this will affect our generation and the generations to come.
Although I have pointed out some of my major concerns, I do think there are many benefits. And like most things, I think social media is good in moderation. If we have an unhealthy relationship with our profiles and news feeds, it can obviously have a very negative effect on our lives. On the contrary however, if we find the correct balance in how often we use social media and what we use it for, its impact can be tremendously positive.
As a student, friend, daughter, cousin, etc. there are hundreds of reasons why it is beneficial to my relationships and myself to be connected. To stay in touch with friends abroad, to see how my high school sister is doing back home, the list goes on and on. But there is a fine line of what is considered too much. Getting lost in my news feed for an hour or so is a scary yet common way people spend their time. Obviously, there are different ideas about how much is too much, but as the issue of social media reliance has negatively impacted our generation and will almost certainly continue to impact the generations after us, conversations in regard to this rising problem have become more common, more in depth, and far more relevant.
When I think of the overuse of social media, I see young children and teenagers who don’t know how to hold a conversation in person rather than over Snap Chat or other social media apps. This issue even transfers into family settings in which some kids simply have never learned to properly interact socially even with family members. While this problem is likely not entirely the fault of technology and social media, it would be silly to thing that these platforms do not play a roll. All of these new ways to interact have seemed to negatively impact the more traditional ways to do so. People have noticed and now there are plenty of examples on how to counteract this, like placing all phones in the center of the dinner table until your group of friends is finished eating. Some companies have taken action as well as they see this problem as an opportunity to place themselves on the correct side of this balancing scheme.
Xfinity/Comcast has created a new feature with their WiFi services that allows parents to pause or disconnect their family’s devices whenever they would like. And although, most family members are upset at first, the end of the commercials show a more traditional family dinner shared at the dining room table or a kitchen counter with laughter, stories, and real conversations.
I not only think that this is an incredible business opportunity as I believe most families see this as an invaluable feature that will benefit the time they spend together, but also a feature that gives insight to how businesses are reacting to this social problem as it is clearly affecting us. As this class moves forward, I’m excited to look at social media from different perspectives, especially from a business and social commentary perspective!