Social Media: The bigger picture

The PC has improved the world in just about every area you can think of. Amazing developments in communications, collaboration and efficiencies. New kinds of entertainment and social media. Access to information and the ability to give a voice people who would never have been heard. (BrainyQuote, 2015)

Bill Gates

Social media is a massive part of my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t use social media to some extent.

Having gone through just about all of my CAP 105 class, and talked extensively about the pros and cons of life with social media, I now feel comfortable reflecting on social media and its role in the world that surrounds me.

In my own life:

In my own life, I make daily use of Facebook. I use it mainly to interact with my family, friends, and peers. This is my main online portal to any of my real-world connections. If I’m not contacting someone via phone.

Aside from Facebook I use Twitter to keep up with friends on a more social level, and also follow some of my personal favorite companies & celebs. Twitter is a great place to maintain an online presence with relatively little work.

In terms of professional communication, I handle most all of it through email. This is not considered social media by many (myself included), and I think that’s the way it ought to be. Email is best because it’s a tad more formal, and it allows the users to respond at their own pace (within reason).

In others’ lives:

Most of my fellow students use Facebook to share interesting articles and post about their lives either in text posts or in photos. What I’ve become more in tune to in the past 3 years or so, is the amount of political agenda pushing. It sparks debate which usually devolves into meaningless grammar correction and name-calling. This is, I believe, the genesis of a lot of social media stress. As Huffington Post’s Linda Lauren puts it, “What was once something we could ‘play with’ is now something that stresses people out” (Lauren, 2015).

Likewise with Twitter, I see a pretty even balance of this. Some post about their daily struggles, some humorous tidbits, and some horrible 5-part tweet-rants on how liberals are ruining the country.

The good & bad:

The upside to all of this Social Media exposure is that it’s usually not hard to see pretty much exactly what a person is like after about 30 minutes of social media stalking. After a peek at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and maybe a blog, I have a pretty clear image in my head of what a person is like. I could likely pinpoint their religion, political leaning, interests, relationship status, and a myriad of other identifiers. This is great news for people who advertise and people who hire.

Who is this bad for then? For the most part, it’s only really bad for the dumbasses. That guy from Delta Delta Sigma whatever that keeps posting pics of him slamming a fifth of Jack every weekend is who it’s bad for. What he doesn’t realize is that employers have ways of seeing your tweets, even if they’re protected. Same thing with your Facebook posts that you only let your friends see.

What’s changed?

What most people will say has changed, is that younger kids are moving toward short-form platforms and away from things like Facebook. The reality is that the Gen Y kids are still using Facebook and other long form sites, they just seem to be doing more “lurking” or, posting proportionally far less compared to the amount of content they read.

While there may be a new top dog in social media sometime in the next couple of decades, it seems all the other guys will be playing for second. While Facebook isn’t perfect, and it certainly has some issues to solve, it’s going to have to do for now. Facebook will continue to be like our father who is a little embarrassing. Sure, he says some racist things, and doesn’t always give the content creator credit when he shares something, but he’s all we’ve got, so we just ignore the bad stuff.

 

BrainyQuote,. (2015). Bill Gates Quotes at BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved 19 November 2015, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/billgates626104.html

Lauren, L. (2015). Three Ways to Handle Social Media Stress. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 November 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-lauren/three-ways-to-handle-social-media-stress_b_6474860.html

 

header photo credit: Social Media v2 via photopin (license)

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