Written & Media by Mary Todd Christian. [divide]
In the year 2008, I remember begging my parents to allow me to get a Facebook. When my dad asked me why, my response was so I could communicate with all my friends who had just recently gotten a Facebook page. For my 14th birthday, my parents let me have an account (given my dad would have one also). I would get online, chat with my friends in the evening after school. Facebook was a great way for me and my friends who didn’t own cellphones to communicate.
Now, in the ripe year of 2015, I’ll log into my Facebook (Twitter, Instagram, etc…) and won’t speak to a soul. I will intentionally make myself invisible in the chat feed. Very rarely do I post on anyone’s Facebook wall. In the end, I am no longer going on social media to be social. I’m using it more to distract myself, and I am finding I am not the only one doing this. There’s not doubt social media in general has become an everyday distraction among us. Here are a few reasons why social media has become such a distraction.
Cellphones, Cellphones, Cellphones
It’s common knowledge, our cellphones are a major distraction. When it comes to social media, practically everything on the internet is available on our cellphones. While we still use our computers to check our social media pages, I would argue that we are glued more to our handheld devices. I always tend to see students (myself included) checking their phones before the next class session. This is more habitual than actually using our phones to communicate with someone.
No Original Content
Except for occasional statuses, I rarely see anything original on Facebook anymore. It is so easy to share a video somebody else posted, which they also shared from another online user. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy videos of puppies and kittens as much as the next person, but they have nothing to do with the user personally. Instead, I want to know what’s going on in the life of my friends and family!
I’m also sure I’m not the only one who is a friend/follower of individuals online, whom I never actually talk to in person. I can think of instances when I have walked past people on campus with whom I’m friends with on Facebook, but have completely ignored their existence. When I think about it, it’s actually embarrassing. Its almost as if I’m saying, “Hey, I like being nosy and looking at your content online, but I’m too busy to actually get to know you.” How wrong is that?!
Another way we are taking the “social” out of social media is through game requests on Facebook. I hope I’m not the only one who is disheartened when I find a game request waiting for me. Usually, the request isn’t from someone I really know well. (P.S. everybody hates game requests. Please stop sending them.)
A Remedy for Boredom
It’s true. We check our social media pages when we’re bored and not necessarily looking for conversation. I equate it to opening the refrigerator and finding nothing to eat… then returning to it later with the hope that something has changed.
Technology isn’t going away, and neither is social media. However, there are ways we can combat taking the “social” out of social media. Shut the computer off and put the phones down. If you aren’t able to separate from your devices, send a friendly message to someone you care about. Start the conversation again, and use social media as it was intended.