Saturday, April 2, 2016

What Is Wrong Here? Five Things I Don't Love About Social Media

New month, different location, hello people whose eyeballs are currently converting images and translating symbols to make words. Hello. I'm in Door County on vacation, largely disconnected from the internet, and now that I am, I've got a little breathing room to dissect it some. Timely, since this is also my first writing prompt for an April exercise I have going with friends. media. I was around before it was even a thing, and now companies have entire teams and executives who ONLY take care of it. Even still, they bork it so majorly sometimes that one wonders how an entire team could make such a huge mistake.

Which, I guess, brings me to something that might be our faults, but social media doesn't help.

5. Mistakes are public. Sometimes, I crack an egg directly into the sink and throw the shell in the bowl. In fact, I did that this morning while trying to make a romantic wake-up breakfast for the boyfriend.  It's dumb, and if someone had been around to see it, I'd have felt dumber. With social media, people are always around, and many of them love a good bit of schadenfreude... so if you make a mistake, you're never alone.  As mentioned, sometimes, we bring this on ourselves by airing that which doesn't need to be aired. In other cases, we just...have a bad day, can't spell a word, or get excited about something before we have all the facts. But once it's out there, it's out there. Somebody happens to catch you falling face first into Denny's at 4 am while being overdramatic, you're forever Denny's Girl. If you're lucky, you'll make the talk show circuit and get a few dollars from it.

4. Expression- There's a lot of ways being on the internet lets you express yourself. But especially with social media, there's a lot of policing too.  Too much baby pictures, they say to the new mom who can't believe this kid just actually came from her and all the wonderful things she's experiencing. Too much boyfriend, they say to someone who finally has a stable relationship. Too much of your cats/dogs. Too much of what's important to you for me to enjoy as a reader.  While I do think there's levels of restraint to show, I also think social media does a great job of quashing real passion and expression for the "acceptable for the average reader" level of enthusiasm.

3. Hate breeds. Sometimes I wonder if anyone will ever agree to disagree agreeably ever again.  Ad hominem is the law here, so much so that if you and I love the same show, say, Gilmore Girls, but you're Team Jesse and I'm Team Dean, and we start a discussion arguing who's the better boyfriend, give it about ten comments down the list and someone's saying someone else is a terrible mother who should die. It's out of hand, and it's how people fight in real life, often, now too. See: Trump as a prime exhibit of someone who can't disagree with a point with any amount of civility.

2. Speed Kills.  I'm pretty open about it, so I have no qualms saying it here. I love Twitter. I grudgingly participate in FB to keep up with family and some friends, but Twitter I am 100% in on. I love getting to interact one on one with people and companies I couldn't otherwise, I love the bite size pieces and links to great articles...but blink and you miss it.  When I lived out West, I finally slowed down some. I realized not everything has to be now.  Back in the burbs of Chicago, I've picked up that "now" freakishness I thought I'd lost.  Add to that the speed of twitter, and I'm buried in my phone trying not to miss the next article I can pitch or cool story to tell or friend hurting.  I'm glad I have it, but not so glad when I'm tempted to glue my face to it and not miss anything. And the struggle can be real.

1. One Up? Sometimes, Facebook especially just seems like a one upsmanship. It was a long time ago I decided my theme song was "Taking The Long Way Around," so trying to win at fashion/dating/housekeeping/whatever is really not my thing.  I just want to keep my head above water and enjoy life. There are neat things I get to do, and places I get to go. Right now, I'm more spoiled than usual, what with this being our annual vacation and whatnot.  But I don't want to feel like I have to impress anywhere, especially on facebook. But even I have to admit there's times when it feels like everyone's in a competition for the better holiday, better relationship, better whatever. It's good to celebrate our own life, it's good to be able to celebrate others, but I dislike when it breaks down into a competition.

And there you have it. For all the good it does me, for all the help it's given me...these are things I could do without.  And in retrospect, it's probably because people. And people? They're the same everywhere, social media or not.  So maybe the answer is less nose in phone, more politeness online, and more willingness to scroll on down past what we don't feel like looking at.

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