It’s nice to know I’m not alone. And now you will know everything (well, almost everything).
As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I cannot help but contemplate the impact social media has had on my life. I am a frequent user; very frequent. Daily. Always before 6:00 a.m. and sometimes after midnight. Not the kind of addiction that might send me to rehab, but when I add up the hours, it does give me pause. Outlining the benefits, the pitfalls, the pros, the cons, and the dangers, is a good exercise for any addict.
I’ve said this before and I feel it in my heart and soul, I love social media simply for the fact that I can easily keep up with friends and family all over the world. A quick text, an email, a post or even my blog, allows for contact that keeps us connected, however vapid a connection it might be. I truly hate being on the phone for more than a few minutes; therefore, the thought that the telephone might be our only means of staying in touch is not even a remote possibility. For this, I am grateful to social media. I’ve had over twenty friends and family visit Portugal and I am certain that social media helped make that happen. I’ve only posted the best of my newish home; I keep the unsavory parts to myself. Deceptive? Yes, but effective nonetheless. Once you get here, you’re free to see for yourselves.
Another great love of mine is photography. True enough that these days almost anyone can take a good picture; actually I’m okay with that. There are still creative and talented photographers out there that blow me away. Still, allow us amateurs to have our fun. I for one enjoy seeing what people are up to; it allows for a glimpse into the lives of the people I care most about and it’s a bit of fun to be a voyeur; a sneaky voyeur at that. Our smartphones enable us to take some pretty cool photos. The professionals will continue to dazzle us with their talent.
Social media and the smartphone has given me a gift that I will not take for granted. I have always hated waiting. I’m chronically early for everything, which has meant a great deal of idle time my entire life. Nowadays, I always have my smartphone which means that I can pass the time playing with social media and reading emails and articles.
I am noticing some incredible creativity on Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, Facebook, etc. The ability to have your work and talent be viewed by so many people is remarkable. This aspect of social media exposure was just not possible only a few years ago. The ability for individuals to shine publicly is a very positive benefit. I am also noticing on Tik Tok and other sites, that people are working together to create content. Since I have always viewed social media as a lonely endeavor, I’m thrilled to see this happening. I think there are and will be more and more applications designed to encourage social interaction and creativity.
Social media has also provided a broad platform for individuals to share their travel and dining experience. Admittedly, you have to sort through the garbage out there; however, once you learn how to be discerning, you will find a great deal of content in this area helpful. There are places I would never have visited had I not viewed a video on YouTube or photos on Instagram. I can now research spots prior to travel, knowing what to do and where to go before leaving home. Magazines and brochures targeted a very specific audience in the past and frankly, I’d prefer to listen to those who are sensitive to my discretionary income.
I recall a while back when people started having these brief reactions on Facebook. I’m fairly certain I didn’t like it. LOL (which I thought was “lots of love” for the longest time), LMAO, TMI, BFF, and so on, I hated all that; I thought it was all silly and vacuous. That is until I started abbreviating my own feelings. Suddenly it was fun, cool and easy. I started watching for reactions to my posts — all part of the addiction. Did people give me smiley faces or type little pictures like this: :p? Was it a trap or was it a passing faze? If it was a faze, it sure does have a lengthy shelf life. I bet most people can’t even recall a time when we didn’t have emojis and abbreviations as part of our vernacular.
I’m going to list these in order of how much these things annoy me, starting with the most annoying first:
- You’re sitting at a table having a meal with family or friends and they spend most of their time either staring at their phones or texting. Hello?
- I truly despise dating sites like Match.com or Tinder. The days of having a cocktail at your local bar and meeting someone for a pre-date conversation is long over.
- People post the stupidest stuff that no one cares about. Sorting through the good and the bad takes time and can be frustrating.
- There are many lies on social media and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between truth and fabrication.
- Society’s young people are the most impacted by social media. I have nieces and nephews who spend most of their day locked up in their bedroom. Social media has replaced person-to-person contact and that’s very dangerous. Texting and playing with Tik Tok, Snapchat, and Instagram, will never replace the up close and personal. I sound like an old person.
Snapchat and Instagram Are the Most Popular Social Media Platforms among American Teens.
- 76 percent of American teens age 13-17 use Instagram.
- 75 percent of teens use Snapchat.
- 66 percent of teens use Facebook, essentially flat from 2015, when data showed 71 percent of U.S. teens using the site.
I have friends who have given up on their children, claiming there is nothing they can do to stop the behavior. Is that true?
- No matter how you slice it, lies are bad for everyone.
- A false sense of beauty can damage one’s ego just as easily as a belief that one’s self is unattractive. A person posts a picture of themselves and they get 1000 likes and just as many flattering comments. They walk around thinking that they are superior and that false sense of superiority affects everything they say and do; eventually it backfires and then you have the crash. I’m seeing it with a family member and there is little I can do to remedy the problem. It becomes a perpetual cycle. I think it’s as bad as any ailment or illness.
- Selfies are problematic. A selfie with friends every so often is harmless; however, I’m seeing individuals who are taking dozens of selfies a day. What are these people looking for? Is it acceptance, flattery, feedback? Is it narcissism at its worse? Whatever it is, it’s unhealthy.
- Individuals are losing perspective on life. Some see everything through the lens of social media. That reality is distorted and dangerous because it’s not real. Some individuals get all of their information this way; unfortunately their decisions are based on what they read and see on social media; little good can come from that.
- Hours and hours of one’s life can be lost surfing the net or playing silly games. People are becoming more isolated and often restless because they are sitting staring at a screen. Like everything else in life, moderation is key. The question is: what is moderation when it comes to time with social media and how does one cut back or modify their daily routine.
- Woke (/ˈwoʊk/) as a political term of African-American origin refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice. It is derived from the African-American Vernacular English expression “stay woke“, whose grammatical aspect refers to a continuing awareness of these issues (wikipedia). When I first heard the term I wondered what could possibly be wrong with being “woke?” The issue seems to lie once again in how we judge one another and this is where it gets ugly. If someone is not as woke as you’d like them to be, does that make them a bad person? How do you really know how woke someone is? Are you judging yourself or others harshly? Social media has sparked this movement and it feels counterproductive.
Self-discipline is difficult. I’m experiencing it right now as I try to learn Portuguese. It’s so easy to play with my phone or laptop instead of focusing on learning. I can justify idle time to myself in a million different ways: my brain needs to rest, I have all the time in the world to learn a language, I need balance in my life, I have to stay fresh and relevant and social media can help me do that, and so on.
No “smartphone” zones are already a thing, but I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. I imagine a world where it will almost be like “no smoking” areas and they’ll be everywhere. I have made a habit of leaving my phone at home when I am going out to dinner with friends. There has been a time or two when I couldn’t get an Uber home, but I can think of worst things than having to walk off a meal.
I have mentioned creativity a couple of times throughout this blog. I’m certain that what we have seen on our tiny devices is just the beginning of a creative and cultural revolution. I’m looking forward to this part and I hope that you are too.
New ways of reigning in young people and their use of social media is a big consideration. I don’t know where society is going with this, I only know that it cannot continue to move in the current direction.
For those of you following Paco’s health issues, his red blood cell count is now normal and he’s gained some weight — the antibiotics are working. He’s nearly out of the woods and I couldn’t be happier.