Let’s just start with this: I have been dying to write about social media for quite some time. This year, I seemed to have really seen through the facade that social media is, and yet also used social media myself more than ever before. Social media is the new everything. Every business and person these days is using social media to reach as many people as they can. Yeah, it’s the “wave of the future,” but it’s also making me really unhappy.
Have you ever thought about it? Please take a moment to assess your relationship with social media. I’ll wait. Think about how much time you spend on social media either wasting time or procrastinating/avoiding things you really could be doing. Think about how the things you see on social media make you feel. Another person engaged? Another ten pins about so-and-so’s wedding. [Insert negative feeling here]. How many times does your phone beep at a new like on Facebook or tweet from your bff? Maybe you don’t feel as annoyed by social media as I do, but taking the time to assess our relationship to the media we expose ourselves to is worth some serious thought. I personally feel that social media is relentlessly pursuing us – day and night, night and day. Did you ever stop to think if you wanted a relationship with social media in the first place?
My Personal Social Media Battle
Personally, social media gives me a little anxiety. All this info about myself out there for who knows to see. Kind of weird. But our culture pushes social media so hard. It’s the only way to stay connected! Everyone else has it. Oh, you don’t have this new app yet? You better get it! Relentless. And this is where the joy stealing comes in to play. Social media is pushed on us so heavily that we’re almost forced to get whatever the latest thing is. But what if I don’t want yet another app or another thing to check? Too bad – you’re a total weirdo if you don’t have Facebook nowadays. And if you have it, you better be checking it all the time. “You didn’t see that on Facebook yet?” We’ve all had one of those comments thrown our way, as if we should feel guilty for not letting our news feed be our homepages. But enough ranting, let’s get to the question of why social media can steal joy.
Why Social Media Steals Joy
1. Habit. You have to constantly check it or it constantly reminds you to check it. This is just another thing to do. This kind of task doesn’t get put on a to do list, though. It just happens. It becomes a habit, and probably one you never wanted to have.
2. Facade. It’s a false view of reality. Most of the time, anything on Facebook is everyone’s best. No one updates their status with “I’m so anxious today” or “I hate how all my clothes look on me right now.” No one is going to be that honest with such a large audience, usually. People show their best and hide their worst. But you’re usually left comparing your worst or how you really feel to everyone else’s best. It’s a completely skewed vision of your friends and the world around you.
3. Bragging Rights. Along with the last one, social media is now basically a socially acceptable way to brag. You got a new hair cut? Instagram it. You got a new car? Put photos of it on Facebook. You’re getting married? Better pin ten new wedding planning ideas to Pinterest, stat! No, there’s nothing wrong with using social media as it was intended, but you know that some people take it too far.
4. Wastes Time. I never use social media, and then when I’m done say, “That was time well spent” (okay, unless it’s Pinterest, but that’s just because Pinterest fools us into thinking we actually “did” something). There’s so much information online that it’s hard if not impossible to catch up with it all again. You can just keep clicking to your heart’s content forever, if you let yourself. There’s always something new and with so many new social media apps and websites being introduced, there’s always more to check and thus waste your time.
5. Self-focused. While Facebook and Twitter certainly do have capabilities to interact with others, the majority of the way these platforms are used is for thy self. Facebook’s status bar always has the question “What’s on your mind?”, as if everyone you’re friends with really needs or wants to know. Ultimately, social media, whether I want to admit it or not, has turned into “all about me” things instead of connecting with people. It’s more about what you can show others, not the other way around.
Obviously, this is a pessimistic view of social media, but to be honest, social media has gotten me pretty down lately. As a person trying to live intentionally – setting goals, using my time wisely, not worrying, being self-controlled – I find social media counteracting my personal goals. I’ve unfortunately felt like (since working on this post for a while now) that social media is something that we can’t live with or without. I feel even more tugged in two directions as a blogger. If I want my blog to grow and succeed, social media literally IS the only way to do that now! Yes, there are many ways to get blog traffic, but read any recent article on how to direct more traffic to your blog, and social media is at the top. Anyway, it’s hard to think I want to unplug and be done with this nonsense when our culture is driven by technology and social influences. I’ve considered writing off all online everything altogether, besides my email I guess, but then I feel that I would be left in the dark – not about people’s lives but with up and coming technology.
Finding the Balance
For now, the balance remains up to me. I have the power to say no to any social network or app that I don’t want to be a part of. It’s easy to feel like if everyone else has it that you too must partake. But do you remember life before Facebook or, dare I say, MySpace? I hardly do since I was quite young when these networks came around, but yes – there was life before Facebook and Twitter and even Pinterest! People lived without social media for years, and probably much happier than our addicted-to-being-online culture does now. The balance rests in my hands, sometimes literally. My phone is always at my finger tips. My laptop flicks on as soon as I open it. Social media is always waiting, but you don’t have to be. There are a lot of ways to limit your use of social media. I could probably write a whole other post about that! But some simple things I’ve learned is to turn off notifications on my phone for pretty much everything, or I’m just glued to it as soon as it beeps. I try to have “phone-free” time and limit my time mindlessly using my computer. Just remembering that I am in control and things don’t control me brings back my sense of joy that I so long to have.
How do you feel about social media? Does it ever feel like it’s taking over your life or do you have a pretty good grip on your daily dose of social?