I was thinking while I was driving yesterday, multitasking, dangerous I know, about the way people use social media and I started wondering, how is social media affecting our lives?
I don’t think just social media is problematic, but more so the way we interact with it.
Social Media Encourages Superficial Interactions
Now, of course, this is my opinion. It’s not a scientific study, double-blind placebo and all that. But I’ve just noticed how people, good friends at that, interact with my stuff. What I’ve noticed is that social media interactions are largely very superficial.
The like button is pretty universal on most social media platforms. In most cases, you’re scrolling down through your feed at break-neck speed and you see something posted from someone you know personally. How often do you just hit the like button with little more than a cursory look?
Maybe you just glanced at the picture. Guess what. You didn’t hit that like button to show your friend that you care. What you actually did was hit that like button to make yourself feel better that you’re supporting your friend. Nope, I’m not holier than thou. I do it too.
How often do you really read the post that you just liked? If it’s a link, how often do you click the link, let alone actually read the material in the link? I do understand that those feeds are massive and there’s no way anyone could ever actually interact with all of it. But how much of it would you really want to read?
Social Media Platforms as Marketing Platforms
Let’s also not overlook the fact that these platforms are deciding what you see. Gone are the days when your feed was just a chronological list of the things posted by the people you follow.
Since many of these programs have gone to publicly traded entities, their focus has become marketing. Why? Because the advertisers are the ones paying to keep the network running. That means your feed is designed to get you to click on ads.
The Time Cost
Everyone frets about money. But you can make more money. What you can’t ever get more of is time. If you’re reading this way in the future when we’ve solved that immortality thing, then I stand corrected. The average person spends an hour a day on Facebook. Don’t believe me? Check here. It’s cool. I’ll wait.
How often have you said I don’t have time for this, or I don’t have time for that? I know I have too many times to count. Would I have enough time if I curbed the social media time vacuum?
How Is Social Media Affecting Our Lives
Social media is a tool. It’s not different than the car you drive to work or the drill that puts up your shelf. It’s how you use it that matters. If it weren’t for my social media accounts, it would be very difficult to keep in touch with my military friends scattered around the country. In that regard, it’s amazing. But at the same time, it is cheapening our relationships and swallowing our lives.
Let social media be a tool you use. Don’t let it use you. It’s engineered to use you.