How often are you on social media? For me, social media is a daily thing. I am on there in the morning, and sometimes again at night before I go to sleep. I like to check in and see what happened today. How is my extended group of family and friends doing? What incredible piece of artwork did their kids bring home from school? Who scored a goal in soccer?
Social media solves a human need to stay in contact. It can fill a void, but it can also create one. Social media in the age of a pandemic is the driver of FOMO. You may be the most highly engaged person in your community, constantly hanging out, having dinner parties, engaging at sports events. Regardless of how many experiences you have, someone is always somewhere else doing something you might wish you were doing, too.
Social media can be used as a sort of emotional support mechanism to provide you with peers who make you feel good and involved. It can also tap into feelings of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence that you are truly doing everything you can to be living your best life.
I know I started out by saying I use social media daily, but I’m starting to rethink that idea.
I know lots of strong-willed people who simply don’t use social media. Well, let me restate that. I used to “know” those people. I don’t “know” them well anymore because I have almost no idea what they are up to. As far as I know, they grew a third arm in that time and have taken up training to become a highly-skilled Sherpa in the Himalayas.
I truly have no idea what these folks are doing, because I am horrible at staying in touch with them without that social media interaction. All that being said, I have to freely admit that I don’t think I really like social media anymore.
I like the idea of social media, of staying in cursory contact with a number of people whom I have called “friends” over the years. I like that I can run to Facebook on Saturday night, and in just a few seconds find some random person running a Facebook live from the front row of the first Pearl Jam show in three years on the beach in Asbury Park (That was awesome!).
I like the basic idea that social media enables these things to happen, but I don’t like the emotional impact of social media. It is addictive. It perpetuates a false state of contentment, because people always post the good things and never any of the more challenging things. People rarely, if ever, post things like, “Today was hard and I could have used the voice of a friend to get me through it.” When they do, it can be too late.
Will I drop off social media completely? Probably not. Can I dial it back and only engage on social media every other day or every couple of days? I think so. I want social media engagement to be more like it was 10 years ago. I should be looking to share something good, not looking for every good thing to share. It should be a reflection of life for me rather than a reflection of my life for everyone to follow every waking minute of the day.
Maybe after I make these subtle changes, I will like social media a little bit more once again. Maybe more of us can do the same thing. Maybe we can spend more time where we are -- instead of worrying about whether other people knew we were there?
Or maybe I was just having a grump Monday when I wrote this :)