Social Media is a beautiful thing. It has the unique ability to reach and engage niche audiences and communities; it is a powerful platform that has diminished geographic barriers exposing new cultures and content.
However, I found myself ranting to my friend earlier about how people abuse its potential power. My Facebook feed is constantly clogged with pointless posts about people’s daily routines, drunken escapades and mind-numbing TV opinions. Then there are those statuses that I can only describe as ‘diary entries’; the personal over share that only one or two friends actually care about. It may be easy to vent through Facebook because communication is asynchronous and social cues are limited but imagine if those who over share spent half of this time sharing content that enforced change, evoked thought and enlightened and educated their friend list.
The problem is not social media; the problem is us. With much of our lives being shaped around the use of social media, you often hear about its dangers, including narcissism, wasted time, envy of the lives of others, lack of integrity or the temptation to restart unhealthy relationships.
However, social media is not dangerous – we are. With ‘friend’ lists that exceed 2000, we constantly compare ourselves and strive to impress. We increase our quantity of ‘friends’ online inviting strangers to judge, analyse and follow our personal lives, however we never ask how this affects the quality of our personal relationships. I find myself asking ‘how are people comfortable over sharing personal information online when they don’t truly know half of their ‘friends’?’ It may be healthy to vent, but sites like Facebook are social networks, not support systems.
People have become dependent on their ‘friends’ list, measuring popularity by how many ‘likes’ their profile photo achieves. We have become superficial, shadows of our true offline selves. People have become reliant on statuses or tweets striving to achieve social approval and praise from others. We increase our quantity of ‘friends’ but lose sight of our closer, offline relationships.
Next time you have a desire to post about how it is snowing or that there’s ‘one more sleep till Friday’, I challenge you to try to inspire, inform or encourage a thought provoking reaction from your friend list. How? Comment on a world issue, post an image of a piece of art, share a ‘TED Talks’ video or like a social movement. Social Media etiquette is something I think very highly of, but if we want to be taken more seriously when it comes to social media we need to start evaluating the way we use our personal profiles.