Yes, folks…social media…it makes us, it destroys us and yet it completes us. Everyone has a different take on social media and more specifically, even the type of social media…which I believe part of it is directly correlated with the age in which you were exposed to it. Being 35, my first exposure to social media, which at the time was AOL Instant Messenger…I was 18. I had just graduated high school and I thought that there was nothing better than a program that allowed me to have real time conversation with my friends that were at different colleges. It was quicker than email, allowed for multitasking while I was downloading music illegally from Napster or finishing a paper for class and didn’t run up my landline phone bills (yes, my cell phone was still about 30 cents a minute). Like all things, chat applications evolved into the ever so popular, Myspace top 8 friends…which gave people more complexes than anything else. I can’t tell you how many stalking moments I had seeing whose Top Friend’s lists I was on, but I’ll get back to that later. Myspace made way for Facebook…Twitter and Instagram followed having their own roles in the current social media phenomenon. Like everything else, the good comes with the bad and horribly ugly.
Right out of high school, because of AOL Instant Messenger I could stay in touch with friends, as we all went our own ways to college, etc. I was able to do it discreetly without the noise of a phone call (except for that pesky 14.4kbs Dial-Up…ugh), economically as I mentioned that landlines were still being used and there were no unlimited minutes plans for cell phones…if you even had a cell phone and of course it was EASY! I was 25 when I started using Myspace and had my Top 8 friends that changed as often as the weather in Chicago. I could cryptically tell a friend I was pissed at them without any confrontation…they position on my Top 8 would decline…and vice versa if I was totally enamored by someone. Facebook allowed me to share pics and videos easily so I didn’t have to wait 6 weeks to see pics of my cousin’s wedding in India or my friend’s newborn baby. Facebook lets me keep track of where I’ve been with check-ins, what movies and shows I’ve watched and lately, how much I work out keeping me accountable and for that reason others as well. Bottom line…socially speaking…social media let us all do our own thing without having to lose connections with those that mattered instantly.
Business wise, I never had a use for it until late. By utilizing Facebook, I can promote just about anything I am doing with RB for free. I can choose to put some marketing dollars towards some posts and promote them, but it’s not a requirement. I’ve connected with old acquaintances from high school that I would have never been friends with but now have a business connection with. Twitter, I love for business because it allows me to have a brief, direct conversation with a specific vendor about a specific topic…the character limit really taught me how to be concise in my thoughts. LinkedIn, still not my favorite platform, but it serves its professional purpose bringing ex-coworkers back in touch for future endeavors. I haven’t considered YouTube a huge platform for me yet, but it’s taking the world by storm that have business with visual elements, especially in food and fitness…wait…why am I not using it more? UGH. Instagram and I have a love hate relationship…it’s a following that you can build quickly with one hashtag, but it also is the most stagnant once you’ve reached a certain place. It’s a place for people to show off a single snapshot of an accidental pose…because I love taking pics of my butt…ON ACCIDENT. Nonetheless, I do like the exposure and the contacts I have made on Instagram because I do nurture those specific relationships on my posts that also drive traffic to their sites as well, besides those filters make me look so much more cut than I am! 😉
Oversharing, saturation, lack of communication…ironic enough. There is a time and place where it’s too much. Social media wasn’t created to take place of one on one communication, it was created to facilitate more communication with a wider reach. I find us using Facebook to post cryptic messages about our lives directed towards certain people that we would rather not confront. I’ve witness a Twitter war between two people sitting in the same room. We are getting away from dealing with the realities of life because we are hiding behind our computers, phones and tablets. A keyboard gives us more strength and courage than two cans and a string. The absence of body language, voice inflections and eye contact provides a facade that things are resolved. There are truths in the lies posted and unseen falsifications in honesty. The person that gloats about her boyfriend in reality is unhappy, while the person that doesn’t post about her every date night might actually be totally content in her own personal life. Reality? The man that posts a pic of him kissing his love, may actually just be that happy and isn’t afraid to show it while the woman going out by herself could really be lonely and miserable. The point is, we don’t take anything at face value anymore. We automatically assume there is much more or nothing at all. The overload of engagement photos, new baby photos, ultrasounds and pet pictures are becoming nuisances instead of someone just wanting to share with their friends a memory. I get crap all the time for posting fitness pics, workout check-ins and food pics…am I being arrogant and demeaning to those that don’t share my lifestyle? Or am I just plain old marketing my company by showing how I helped myself and how I can help others that want the same for themselves? Which one it is? Why do people assume the worst? What happened to asking questions and having a tangible conversation with someone? Because you got all the facts off my latest Facebook feed? Stop making someone else’s life your personal problem. Let them be them…if you don’t like it…YOU can make the choice to take them off your feed, not punish them for being who and what they want to be…except that we can’t handle not knowing more so than just tolerating.
This is no surprise coming off the latest presidential election…the polarization alone was enough to create a wall…oh wait. Sorry, had to get that one in there. But truly, the amount of people I turned off notifications for during this last year was astronomical. I didn’t care to hear anyone’s rhetoric left or right. Friends became enemies, lovers became divorcees and employers looked like dictators. Social media became a weapon of mass destruction instead of a tool to promote solidarity. This doesn’t just happen on national issues, this comes down to personal issues as well. Revenge, deceit, cheating and even bullying has become norms on social media overshadowing its positive power. Trolls and bullies are creating havoc in peoples’ lives because we’ve allowed ourselves to react to social media like Biff from Back to the Future. Employers are casting out future employees because of one drunk pic posted from a night out with the guys…hypocritical, considering companies are moving to a more relaxed culture focused environment to increase productivity. “Unfriending” someone is considered the end all and the final say in relationships…and reacting to someone’s post is the new courtship…that guy is totally into you since he liked your duck face picture with your Venti Crappuccino. REALLY? Fact is, social media is like one of those ancient hanging bridges in the rainforest…it’s a beautiful thing if you can cross it with careful finesse and balance, otherwise you are headed nowhere, but down.
Whether you use social media for business, personal or both, the point has always been to connect, reconnect or establish a connection with people. I try to always use social media for the powerful giant it really is, however, sure I’m guilty of getting caught up in the downside, we all are. Sometimes, we must watch our own steps of what we post because we don’t want to become a target, not because we already are one. I know that with the good, you should accept the bad…but I don’t have to accept the ugly. Thing is, what you put into what others are saying online is your own fault. No one is making you stalk your ex, secretly hate your bff for being engaged before you or even making you find your sisters new baby nauseating…that’s on you, don’t make that their problem. As for the rest of us that walk on eggshells, myself included…if you step on them enough, they will grind down to a fine powder that eventually just blows away. KEEP GRINDING.