Social media resembles a virus of sorts. It enters into somebody’s life and replaces other healthy practices with a screen-focused addiction.
OK. That might be an overstatement. I understand that not everyone suffers from an addiction to social media. Some can use the tools technology has offered responsibly. They can also set the screens aside to listen and speak with, well, real human beings.
I like to think I’m one of those people. I fully believe in the possibilities that rest within social media tools. The power to connect has proven itself useful in my career as a journalist. I utilize multiple social media platforms for work, but rarely post personal things to my own social media accounts.
I’ve never fully thought about why that is the case until recently.
It could be that I am face-to-face with a screen for so much of my day that the idea of utilizing a screen for social purposes gives me a headache.
Another potential explanation is that I like to keep up on the lives of those around me, but don’t necessarily want them to know all about my day-to-day life. Plus, I’m an introvert. Social media allows me to satisfy my curiosity about how other people spend their days without having to interact with them. Or, if I do choose to interact, it takes place at a safe distance.
Listening to NPR recently, the news anchor was speaking about social media with a guest and she mentioned that she has never utilized Facebook and has no plans to. She did, however, use other social media and messaging platforms. Facebook, however, was the line she drew in the sand.
I know several people who have opted out of Facebook. Some started a page, but after some sort of life event — a breakup, career change or some other occasion — decided they either didn’t have time for it or didn’t want to see constant reminders of their prior lives. They sought an escape.
Those people still used technology. They still text their friends, sends Snaps via Snapchat or follow the world’s events on Twitter. But, they also spent more time interacting with people one-on-one. In essence, they found that when they disconnected, they became more connected to those around them.
As I said, I utilize social media for a number of aspects of my job. All of that interaction, though, can be exhausting, even when it’s virtual. It kind of reminds me of living in a big city — ahh the memories of a previous life. While social media remains home to millions, perhaps billions of people, anonymity reigns. The same applies in big cities. I was one of millions in Chicago, but could blend into a crowd and find myself relatively alone in the midst of it all. When is the last time you disconnected in order to connect with those who mean the most to you?