Awhile ago, I wrote about my trials and tribulations with social media since I started using it for work purposes. This is something of an update/continuation on those thoughts.
The love/hate relationship is still strong. Although, love/hate is probably a bit strong. Like/meh is a more accurate representation of my emotions overall. Leaning at least a bit more toward the meh end of the spectrum.
I’ll take full responsibility for this. Overall, I’m pretty willful when it comes to operating within social media the way the moneymakers want me to. Which is essentially to spend dough on ads and/or lots of time on the platform. Neither of which excite me, particularly the latter.
Also, I primarily use Facebook and Instagram and they’re the same company. So there’s that. I have Twitter, but struggle to follow the comment threads on it. And I don’t have the patience or time for any more forms of communication so Snapchat lasted less than 24 hours. I’m not sure if anything else exists out there.
And… I hate to admit it… there might be an age thing here. I wasn’t raised on this technology so it isn’t second nature. The next generation might be able to do what I want to do with it in a matter of seconds and go on with their life.
So I’m sure a lot of my struggles are self-induced. I could really commit to a better attitude toward it and go all in, which means shelling out the bucks and paying for ads on Facebook and Instagram or spending more time interacting with the other accounts on them. Or I could hire someone to spend their time on social media for me. Or decide to Tweet. Or forgo it altogether. I have choices.
But instead I’m fighting against what is. Not being mindful at all!
As someone who believes in social justice, I saw the Internet and social media as platforms that could help even the playing field. Anyone could put anything out there and anyone could see it. Of course, that means anyone can put anything out there. And not everyone should. But at least we all had somewhat of a chance no matter how much money we had.
Now that it’s time to make money from the public, it’s back to the old days of whoever already has the platform and money has more of a voice. And I can’t blame them entirely. These are businesses and investors won’t invest forever without getting something in return. But it skews the playing field again.
Unless you want to spend the time on it instead of money. I don’t know if it’s like this for every social media space, but I recently learned that the latest Instagram algorithm update essentially allows more people to see your posts the more time you spend on the platform. They say they want it to be a way to build community and actually connect with others rather than just post something and leave. Which I can get behind (to an extent). Community and connection is important. I’m just not convinced that the development of authentic, meaningful relationships from social media interaction are the norm. And ultimately, they’re a company trying to make as much money as possible and they make more money the more we’re on it. So of course they want us on it as much as possible.
Even though the truth is, the more we’re on social media, the worse it actually is for us. And this is where I’m both truly concerned and optimistic.
Concerned because of the amount of time people spend on it. Myself included. Even if I use the excuse of it being for work, it’s more time than I want to be on it. This takes away from real life interactions with other people, yourself, and the physical environment. I also don’t think most of the interaction is quality. Of course, people have met actual, real life friends and lovers on social media. But overall most of your “connection” is based around a very skewed version of everyone’s lives. And I’ve seen that many people who spend a large portion of their time on the Internet struggle to maintain relationships in real life. And just to sound like Grandma, screens also harm your eyesight.
But I also said I’m optimistic. Optimistic because if enough of us don’t have the time or money to spend on social media (or want to), then we may trend back toward more real life interaction. People are lonelier than ever. And finding that social media only temporarily replaces good old fashioned face-to-face connection. You can have a million followers, but if you don’t have anyone to call when you’re sick or injured, what’s it actually worth?
It would be ironic if social media is what ultimately forces us all back into the real life. But until then here are some ways I’m keeping social media from stealing my soul:
Only do what’s fun
I haven’t posted to my FUNdaMENTAL Growth Instagram account in months. I think. I don’t even know how long it’s been and was tempted to look, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Posting takes longer than on Facebook. And having to face a million accounts with the same motivational quotes gives me the hives. So I post to my personal and artistic accounts, like some actual high quality photos, and get the heck off there.
Set use limits
For me, this is both in using social media and learning about it. It’s easy to get sucked in without actually receiving any benefit. I’m still navigating what these limits look like for me, which have varied between checking a certain number of times a day to only checking when I post something. This completely goes against the Facebook/Instagram empire, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Set boundaries with other users
I actually had someone who’d messaged me on Instagram (Someone I don’t know in real life.) become frustrated that I didn’t respond for several days. I didn’t respond for several days because sometimes I don’t go on there. For awhile. That’s why this person was frustrated. They wanted my response immediately and they didn’t get it. I’m not about to check every hour just so people can get responses as quickly as they want. That’s insane. Like my posts if you want to. Message me if you want to. But don’t expect anything because I don’t owe anyone anything.
Cut it out
If it’s more trouble than it’s worth, get rid of it. Connecting in person is still far more fulfilling, both personally and professionally. And life is far more satisfying experienced in 3D. So get rid of it if it’s a negative experience for you and live life in real life!
So my initial title may be a bit fatalistic. If social media doesn’t kill us, it could actually save us. Until then folks, use it responsibly.