With the growing use of social media, it’s easy to say we are becoming a more socialized society. However, are we really being social? Yes, sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allow you to connect with people from all over the world but sometimes I think the virtual worlds we create for ourselves become more important than the one we actually live in.
Some advantages of social media are we can interact, share photos, videos, and opinions with both people we know in real life and people we meet online. Businesses use social media to promote their work and get users talking about certain products but how does social media affect our personal lives?
A person posting videos on YouTube may have hundreds or even thousands of subscribers and not know a single one of them. Yes, their videos are reaching thousands of people but when you think about it, how is that being social? They are simply posting an opinion for the world to see. Yes, viewers have the option to comment on the video but if all the person ever does is post the video and does not react to comments, is that really being social?
So what about Facebook? Yes, Facebook is a little more personal than other sites because you can add people you know in real life and keep up with what is going on but sometimes I think we take it a little far.
For example, you receive a friend request from a name that sounds familiar. Possibly you went to school with this person long ago. You accept the friend request and upon closer approach you realize this is indeed someone you went to school with and haven’t heard from in more than a decade. After spending several minutes scanning that person’s profile page, you feel you have a good grip on the kind of person he or she is, as well as what he or she is up to these days. In just a few minutes you have filled in the gaps of your missing 10-year relationship and now consider this person your friend.
Is this what our world has come to? Building relationships with random strangers and sharing every detail of our lives in hopes we will become popular on the Internet or get a bunch of “likes” on our status? What happened to real life interaction of going to get lunch or coffee and sharing a few laughs with the people we love most? Even if you know the people you are interacting with on the Internet, there are times you cannot even begin to compute the emotions and vibes people are sending you behind their words like you can in real life.
I am not saying it is bad to meet new people or use social media. I just feel sometimes it becomes a distraction to our everyday lives and before we know it, our virtual world is mixed with our physical one and we can no longer tell the difference. I believe social media is a great tool for many things but the bottom line is, that is all it is: a tool.
Nothing beats face-to-face interaction. Think before you snap, post, share or accept that friend request. Instead of writing on someone’s wall, call or pay an actual visit. Instead of posting an opinion you may regret later, keep a journal.
The uses of social media can be both convenient and amazing but let’s make sure we are utilizing it in a way that will be a positive experience for all parties involved.
To contact Erin Peden, email firstname.lastname@example.org.