Social media, to Millennials it is life. To Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers, it is pressed upon them to embrace it and remain relevant.
The reality of social media is an addiction created by sharing, posting and commenting on social media platforms.
Social Media Abounds
Take your pick: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, Periscope, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Myspace and more in beta testing. Why the need for so many social media platforms? Why remove society further from reality with more social communities? Surely, the never-ending array of television channels is enough to whisk away the days. Isn’t it?
If sitting in front of a television for hours on end channel surfing isn’t enough, what of the two billion mobile phone users replacing conversation with likes, shares and comments? In the end, social media is becoming similar to religion and politics – it is governed by business but consumed by man, it is a friend and an enemy, an opportunity and a vice, a problem and a cure.
To Like or Not, that is the Question, Or Is It?
To narrow down the plethora of social media options, this article will use Facebook as an example, considering it’s the largest social media platform with membership exceeding one billion, yes, with a “B”, and still growing despite claims membership is declining. Ever think what is the goal of Facebook? Why did it become a pop culture phenomenon when the world had MySpace?
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO at Facebook said this, “Facebook wasn’t meant to be cool. It was meant to be useful, like turning the lights on, it just works.” Useful, really? Many view Facebook and other social media platforms as a way to communicate with people, brands and companies, or to promote a product or service in hopes of reaching a larger market.
If Facebook is the behemoth of social media platforms, is Instagram and Snapchat to name a few, in business to be useful? Ask yourself, how useful is viewing and sharing photos, checking-in at locations or commenting on others posts? Sounds like a social community more than a superb invention such as lighting.
Words Cut Like Knives
Aside from Facebook and other social media platforms creating a social community, knowledge sharing and news contrary to mainstream media is available. Alternative news, news from other countries, bloggers, oft-ended media outlets funded by grassroots efforts, often share differing opinions and stories from the news funneling through the television. But as in anything for the greater good, not all readers share similar views.
The cloak of obscurity created by the Internet allows individuals to freely express hate, discontentment and pessimistic opinions with virtually no backlash. These commentators move in and out of content like a speeding car on the highway, leaving some writers and small scale bloggers second guessing his or her content.
Individuals who publish his or her content open themselves up to ridicule, hateful commenting and outright viciousness. Those who are incapable of removing themselves from the content published, may suffer from lowered self-esteems already, further feeding into their belief that who they are and what they look like is far from beautiful.
Words cut like knives, and in a fickle and sensitive society, negative and pessimistic words are lethal. It’s difficult to accept ridicule and rejection, to move beyond words from unimportant people when the mind is weak. Thus users must understand, social media does not fuel greater self-acceptance but create a reliance on the acceptance of others by way of likes, shares and comments.
Post a selfie before? Ask yourself, why? What was the purpose, to share with friends your new hair color, haircut, make-up or clothes? Did your mood lift with the positive comments and likes? Conversely, did your mood adversely change because no one liked or commented?
The Past Comes Back to Haunt
Social media is a wonderful tool to build and influence others. Its reach is global. And sometimes that reach finds unwanted people such as an ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, etc…
When life is as it should be – peaceful – nothing is more disturbing, disruptive or unwelcome than a message from an individual in the past. Seeing his or her face or name dampens the mood, surely stirring up fears of jealousy and infidelity if one is in a relationship. As innocent as it may seem, the receiving party is quickly put on defense, searching for words to describe, “Why?”
The unfortunate downside of social media is the loss of anonymity. Yes, one can remove themselves from social media all together, but doing so is similar to crawling under a rock and isolating from society. Undoubtedly, an ex reaching out to a past lover will fuel a discussion, conversation or argument with the receiving party’s significant other. It will cause two loving individuals to consume valuable time on an individual that means nothing. And, after fears of jealousy subside, only the receiving party experiences the adverse side effects of such a distraction – increased blood pressure, stress, rapid pulse rate, rage, emotional imbalance, trust issues and so on.
Society loves gossip as evidence of magazines lining check out stands at nearly every grocery store. Society relishes in knowing what’s happening with close friends, family and those they love to hate. Social media, the Internet, magazines,newspapers and blogs provide content to feed that urge, and in doing so, will burn into the minds of readers thoughts of jealousy, infidelity and lack of trust in his or her own relationship.
Art Imitating Life
Stephen King is a prolific writer of horror. George Lucas is a mastermind of an empire, Star Wars. J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling created masterpieces of unknown worlds and creatures, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. How? How did these individuals create and channel life into stories, creatures, unknown worlds, weapons and much, much more?
Art became life – they became what they wrote.
Similar to these magnificent authors, society imitates art in life – we become the avatars, profiles and content created through the lens of social media. We become a tag, a status, a selfie, a meme, the image shown to the public.
Even now, this article is written for followers to share, like and comment. The article image, optimized for search engines to find, and unique enough to grab the attention of readers in timelines and feeds. Though this content is fresh, the name of this site, author and article will fade as a rock thrown into the ocean depths.
Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc…is no longer art imitating life, but life imitating art.