Day 8: The Grand Beast: Social Media

I'd like to start with a story. A number of years ago over the summer, I was in a supermarket close to my home doing some grocery shopping. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two old friends who I hadn't seen for a long time. We embraced, caught up, and then all of a sudden, one of them said:

"We've been following you on Snapchat and Instagram. Looks like you've been having an amazing summer."

The reality was, my summer had been pretty boring, and if you'd asked me to rate it, it certainly would not have made the top five. So what was causing my friend to think this way?

Throughout my articles, I have discussed a great deal about how smartphones cause us to digest content that is usually at a frequency some of us cannot handle, or information overload. This is one of my core critiques of smartphones. But there is also danger in the actual content that is being delivered... not just its frequency. Now, it is important to differentiate between criticisms of smartphones and social media. One is more a vestibule for the other. But why I am including this within my blanket criticisms is because I believe that both smartphones and social media have a symbiotic relationship. The latter couldn't exist in its current pervasive form without the former. While sites like Facebook and Twitter exist outside of the world of smartphones, apps like Snapchat and Instagram have been created solely out of the form factor of the smartphone.

What I believe caused my friend to think I had such a great summer was the skewed perception that social media causes all of us to have. The underlying presumption of social media is that you share what looks good. At least for my generation, social media has become a way to do just that, present your life (social) in the form of pictures and updates (media). We have all become our own press rooms. But there doesn't exist any checks and balances. No one is going to post pictures of their Saturday afternoon spent cleaning their room. As I have heard from someone before, "everyone puts up their A-roll film for social media." The only problem is that much of our life consists of B-roll or C-roll film. That is just the reality. Life is sometimes mundane and boring, and if we believe that everyone else is somehow experiencing these great moments, social media has messed with our perceptions.

I do realize the inherent good in social media. It has kept me in contact with people from all parts of my life. I don't know if I could get as many readers of this website without sharing each piece. So it is not that we have to get rid of our social media, I think this would be a naïve choice. Rather, we need to find a middle path, a way to bring in the good social media has to offer, and clean up the bad.

This leads me to a further point, and that is how we reform our ways in regards to smartphones and social media. Visit tomorrow to get more details!