After months of getting that pesky and persistent notification demanding I update to the latest version of iOS, it took a completely shattered screen, a $160 trip to an off-brand repair center, and an unhelpful phone call with Apple support requiring me to reset my system to to finally get it done.
Like all iOS updates, I didn’t notice much of a difference at first. Some variation in the coloration and depth of the icons, slight changes in app and settings formats, some additional nifty tools. Nothing life changing. However, one week post-update, I received an unusual notification reading “Your Weekly Screen Time”. After a brief moment of feeling personally attacked by Tim Cook for proving my already obvious addiction to my phone, I went through the usual stages of grief. Well, not entirely usual. My first phase was shock; how could this possibly happen? My next phase was a prolonged period of denial; there’s NO way this is right.
It was cringe worthy, for sure, but I decided to take a closer look into the details of this new addition to the iOS toolbox. The numbers were daunting, and, unbeknownst to me, pretty massive. I was spending nearly four hours a day on my phone, scrolling through Instagram for nearly half that time, and receiving nearly 200 notifications. I pondered these figures. I have Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat accounts; however, I use them fairly passively, only posting on Instagram about once every three months, rarely updating my Facebook profile, and usually only sending private Snapchats to my closest friends rather than posting on my “story”. I’m even one of those people that tried giving up social media for a brief period of time, loved it, but then begrudgingly rekindled my relationship with it because I had to see what Jessica and her boyfriend did on their spring break in the Bahamas. After this, I diagnosed myself as a “passive screen user”. I spend the vast majority of my time not presenting myself on social media, not participating in the larger community, but observing the people I am connected with.
Following this realization, I have begun to consider the era of social media that my generation is a part of, and how that might impact my screen time. Unlike those younger than us, we didn’t grow up with social media, it became introduced to us during our pre-teen years. I made my Facebook account when I was a freshman in high school, got my first iPhone when I was a sophomore, and made my Instagram and Snapchat accounts shortly after that. We are extremely skilled in navigating emerging technology and social media, but we weren’t raised by it. Unlike those older than us, it has become a significant part of our social lives. We are a disparate generation wedged between two extremes, and tensions are getting high.
Social media is obviously a heavily debated subject. It’s the motivation behind the hit Netflix series Black Mirror (if you haven’t watched “Bandersnatch” yet, here is me telling you that you should) which touches upon society’s relationship with technology and how it impacts the contemporary social setting, it’s the topic of many mental health research studies, and it’s the lens through which we peel back the layers of people’s privacy and enter their personal lives, for better or for worse. However, it’s also a magnificently effective tool in connecting loved ones, sharing ideas, and inspiring others. While so many aspects of social media are unpredictable, one thing is for sure: it’s not going anywhere.
This is the reasoning behind my excitement for this class, as well as the numerous questions I have about the future of social media and its usage. How can we more effectively use social media to benefit from screen time, rather than spend it subconsciously scrolling? How will our lives change as the non-social-media-using generation fades away and the opposite keeps growing? Social media is quickly becoming a life skill that we need to be taught. Similarly to learning the necessary skills behind an accounting or finance major, or becoming advanced in Excel, how will we be educated on the skills behind social media? Years down the road will we see social media become part of general education? I guess I could just Google it.
Even after all of these questions, a “passive user” like me is ill-prepared to be tweeting and making WordPress blog posts, but I’m curious to see how interacting more with the online community might transform my relationship with social media. Social media has been a growing part of my life for nearly eight years now, yet still, the thought of being so involved in “sharing” is overwhelming and foreign to me. I made my first Twitter account yesterday and after receiving multiple follows from people I haven’t spoken to in years, I’m not gonna lie, I was a little creeped out. Even writing that first test tweet was something out of the ordinary, but I guess If I’m going to be attached at the hip to my iPhone for the rest of my life, I might as well start learning how to REALLY use it.
So, all in all, I’m a little nervous, a little overwhelmed, a little bit more excited, and a lot of ashamed that I just shared my despicable weekly screen time with you all.
I’m looking forward to navigating this more unfamiliar realm of social media, participating in a class experience unlike any other, and watching digital business and social media transform right before our eyes (or right through our screens).