And here is why I'm blogging today: what the heck has happened to social media? I mean, as my 4 year old niece would say, for realzies! It is out of control. And I am not an innocent bystander, I'm afraid. Let's discuss.
Last summer I wrote a post about the evolution of Facebook in my own life: the first time I heard about it, how it worked when I first began using it, and how people in my generation slowly faded away from it and began using Twitter and/or Instagram a lot more frequently. It started out as an elite thing-- a college thing--but now, everyone is on it. And when I say everyone, I mean just that: your 7 year old neighbor, your boss, your 88 year old grandmother, and, in some cases, your friend's cat has his own account. And now, unlike 8 years ago, everyone has a smart phone so they can constantly be connected to that blue and white page.
And here is the problem: we ARE CONSTANTLY connected to it. Why? What is alluring to us about what someone ate for supper last night? Especially when that someone is a coworker we never even spoke to at a job we worked in Junior High? But we have to know. We are crippled if we don't have access to this information.
And now we don't just have statuses and pictures to weed through, we have quizzes that we NEED to take. What celebrity am I most like? What food does best represent my personality? What does my hair color really say about me? And then there are the articles we have to sift through. I could pull up my facebook right now and scroll through 25 posts, and I bet ten of them would be links to articles or videos I need to read or watch. Don't get me wrong, I've posted a few good articles and been thankful to find a few of worth that others have shared as well. But usually, they aren't worth the time or the debate that others are trying to start.
So if this is what it has come to, what do we do? Where do we go from here?
A few weeks ago some great friends of ours were visiting and we sat around the table and played cards like we always do and in between hands we talked for 45 minutes, like we always do, and this topic came up. It was interesting because one is in youth ministry [S], and the other is a photographer [M] and feels like she needs to promote her business via Facebook. But we all came to the conclusion that we hate it. We really don't like Facebook or the way we feel we have to be on there, or how we feel after we've wasted twenty minutes scrolling through its pages.
Brent and M have deleted the facebook app off of their phones. And they both said their useless time on there has been cut by way more than half. I think that's a fantastic place to start. But have I done it?
S doesn't get on there unless he needs to post something directly to his students. He uses it as a tool-- and it is a great one for that. I think this is why we are all afraid to permanently delete our accounts, because we do see the usefulness in how it connects us in ways we didn't have access to before.
And then there is me. I like to use the excuse that it is a big part of how I connect socially throughout my day. Which is half true, I suppose. Those of you that stay home understand how you can soon feel isolated from adult interactions. But you know what? I don't think my facebook "conversations" are adding anything to my day. I don't think clicking on article links that my college acquaintance posted are adding value and substance to my day.
To be fair, I am on Instagram far more than I am on facebook. I can post pictures directly to Facebook from my Instagram account, without actually clicking over. Therefore "my peeps" get the pictures of Blythe they want, and I don't have to actually go to the site. But is Instagram any better? How soon will it become another monster we can't quite control? And I had an interesting conversation with a friend, who is the same as me: She has "friends" on Instagram that she really doesn't want to "follow", but if she "unfollows" them, she can't ever go back and just peek at a few pictures/check up on them/stalk them/judge them without asking to "follow" them again…meaning, they would KNOW she had "unfriended" them…meaning??!?! Why do we think like this?
We feel more freedom to be opinionated, sometimes hateful, when on social media. We feel more freedom to be easily offended by what someone else says-- and let's be honest, we could be offended by something they half-heartedly typed while waiting for their burger in a drive-thru line, such is the beast. We feel like we can really know someone based on what they post, when they are able to edit everything, just like us.
It's a problem.
It's an epidemic.
And I'm writing this because I'm sick of it all.
And I think I'm writing this so that I actually do something about it. Like delete the Facebook app from my phone. [But what will I do with all those endless hours of nursing if I can't mindlessly peruse Facebook?]
But isn't that just it? Think of all we could do with those mindless hours we spend perusing Facebook.
So for now, you'll see
Like I said, I think this blog is something different entirely, because it is intentional and it is something I truly enjoy. I will still post links to it on Facebook, as I still love to read and connect with your comments and facilitate discussion that way.
That being said: what do you think? What is your Facebook usage like? How do you limit yourself, if you do? Do you think you need to limit yourself? Why or why not? To you, what is the best and worst thing about it? [And I know this has been primarily about Facebook: I know there are dangers to Instagram, and it has addictive powers as well. I don't really know much about Twitter-- which I think is what most of the college generation uses now-- so I haven't really said much about it. Do you have insight there?]
And if you absolutely love using Facebook, that's fine. I just needed to think through this and I think while I write.
Facebook App BE GONE!