I saw this on Facebook tonight, and it sparked something in me.
Day 1: 5 Problems With Social Media
We all want to "be somebody". Well guess what, princess? Maybe you're just not somebody. Listen - I'm nobody. Sure I'm someone's mom, someone's best friend, someone's fiancee, someone's employee, someone's colleague. But in the grand scheme of things? I'm nobody. I'm just me. We all want this popularity online - we want to have the most Likes, the most Shares, etc. Dudes....we're just people. And while we may want to be "somebody"...the likelihood is that we're just us. And that's okay.
2. False Sense of Security
Sort of ties in with #1, sure. But really....look, it's this simple: You post a picture of yourself, or an event, or a meal you've created (I say "you", but I mean the general "you" - I'm including myself here). Imagine for a second if NO ONE "Liked" it. Imagine not ONE person double clicked it on Instagram. Imagine not ONE person shared it. Imagine not ONE person commented.
Let that sink in a moment, I've got to refill my wine glass.
You still with me? Okay. So now, think back to say....10 years ago. Think back to a meal that you prepared that really stretched the limits of your comfort zone. For me, it was longer than 10 years ago; it was probably more like 27 *gag* years ago, and it was, I kid you not, Peanut Butter Chicken. My parents were out, and I prepared this "masterpiece". (Turns out my mom is allergic to PB - who knew??) It was TOTALLY out of my comfort zone. I had to follow that recipe to the letter in order to create this dish. No pictures were taken. No one (Mom especially, I assure you) applauded my attempt. It was simply a meal. Did I still feel great about the accomplishment? You bet I did. Did I wish I'd realized Mom was allergic to PB? You bet I did. The point I'm making here is that posting pictures of my "masterpiece" (and I assure you, I'm using that term VERY loosely...) wouldn't have given me any sort of "up" in the security/sense of accomplishment department. What did give me that "up", and what SHOULD give all of us that "up" is ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING.
3. Lack of Actual Interaction
Anyone who knows me AT ALL knows that my primary contact method these days is either a) Facebook or b) via text. I've moved to a new city, I've got a new job, I'm not exactly on a face-to-face reality with most of "My People". Sadly, this means that a lot of the time, I'm left feeling somewhat empty. Did I "have a conversation"? Sure. Was it "real"? Well...that's debatable, and really depends on who you ask. For those of us who have spent YEARS online, yes. For those old stogies who think that this "online thing" is still somewhat of a phase...probably not. Okay...no one thinks "online" is a phase, obviously. But there is certainly a LOT of research that delves into whether or not "online interaction" is actual interaction. My thought? It really depends on who you are, and whether or not you personally have evolved (emotionally) into a place where this is "enough". For me personally? Yes. I have many online friends who I've never met, and who are absolutely some of the best friends I've ever had. For others? Nope.
4. Instant Gratification
Sort of a collusion with #2, I admit, BUT also a bit different. We expect that if we Tweet to a company, we'll get a response within a "reasonable amount of time". Jay Baer has written an entire BOOK on the subject (sort of) that talks about how to turn "Haters" into advocates. While this has a marketing side (Ya'll know I'm a Social/Digital Media Marketer - as my fiance Eli reminds me often, "You knew what you were getting into!"), the point I'm trying to make here is that we, as a society, possibly even as a culture, expect immediate results to our posts. Let's be honest here - the whole reason we post ANYTHING is for the reactions of others. I'm going to post the link to this blog post once I'm done. Why? Because I WANT YOU TO READ IT!! Get my point? Let's move on.
5. The Forging of Otherwise Impossible Bonds
Two things come to mind here, so please bear with me. I'm sure you're wondering how this is a problem - we'll get there.
1. While I was pregnant with my youngest (about to turn 13), I 'met' a group of women on iVillage.com (no longer - *tear*) who became my best friends. This is a group of women who on a daily basis support, empower, encourage, and lift each other up. We've gone through everything together; divorces, loss of a child, illness, deaths, new jobs, new loves, new hair colours, career changes, moves, fashion trends....you name it, we've been there. And through it all....this is my FAMILY. These women - and I can't link to the group on Facebook, because it's "secret", and rightly so - are my FAMILY. If I need a kick in the ass, they're there. When I needed to talk about my marriage, they were there. Having a rough day at work and need to vent? Yup, they're there. Family member is ill and you're worried? They're there. Job interview and don't know what to wear? Upload pictures, they'll critique - they're there. Parenting issues and need advice? They're there. These women, this community - they ONLY exist because we're all online. That's the high-level common denominator. Yes, we were all pregnant at the same time - but if we weren't all online, we'd have never known each other. And I assure you...these women know me. Ya'll know you who are. I love each and every one of you.
2. The industry I've chosen my career path in requires me to network, network, network. I also have to be constantly on top of things - there is no "down time", alas. Yet, I love it. Go figure. Anyway, my point is this: I've 'met' some truly amazing people. Take people like Robert Caruso. We've never met, and quite frankly, we likely never will. But we're Facebook Friends, we follow each other on Twitter, and we've had MANY conversations online about a million different topics. I know that he's a very proud Dad, he's completely in love with his lady, he has an amazing relationship with his parents (Go, Mama Caruso!!), and he's extremely dedicated to his work. So what's my point? I'd have never known this amazing person existed without social media.
So how are these "problems"? Well, okay, you've got me. They're not. But since I'm a huge advocate of social media, you didn't really think you were going to get away with 5 problems and nothing great, did you?
C'mon, people - let's be real. Are there problems? Yes. Yes, without question. Are there also amazing things? Absolutely. I for one choose to see the positives. I'll work on the negatives.
Especially if anyone can find that recipe for Peanut Butter Chicken. I'll give that another go...without serving it to Mom. (Sorry, Mama. I love you.)