Attacks on social media have been increasing here lately, with rants & poems and blogs and videos… and while there are some valid points to be made by these detractors, I feel the need to push back just a bit… give the ‘net it’s due, as it were.
The gist seems to be this: We’re too plugged-in. We waste too much time. Facebook is frying our brains. We don’t connect to people anymore. Etc. etc. etc…
I call bullshit. … At least for the larger picture.
Now, do I know people who spend too much time on FB? Who stop having conversations with people right in front of them because they’re tweeting or instagramming their lives? Of course. There are extremes at both ends of the spectrum. So instead of trying to speak for everyone, I’m just going to speak for myself.
Could I spend less time online? Sure. Absolutely. There isn’t any real benefit to my life from watching cat videos or taking the “What ___________ are you?” quizzes. Unless you think there’s benefit to smiling, laughing, and having fun. But I could spend less time on those particular aspects of social media.
But let’s talk about the rest of it… One of the major banners of the “unplug” movement seems to be this: We don’t talk to each other; we don’t initiate interactions with strangers.
WHO are they talking about?! Because I don’t know these people.
I mean, really… where is this ‘nirvana’ where people took public transportation and were striking up conversations with each other, making connections & skipping off into the sunset to live happily ever after? I used to ride the bus & MARTA to and from work every day … before the age of ‘everyone has a smart phone’, and let me tell you – nobody was talking THEN. Everyone was either reading a newspaper, or a book, or a magazine, or SLEEPING. There were no spontaneous conversations. We didn’t all suddenly start discussing Shakespeare or World Events… or even the Braves! Just didn’t happen.
But let me tell you what social media HAS done – it’s given me a portal I never would have had otherwise.
I’m an introvert. I was all but turning into a hermit before social media. I don’t randomly start conversations with people. I’m polite… I walk down the street and look people in the eye and smile at them as we pass… I thank the people who I interact with when I’m buying my lunch or if someone holds a door open for me. But that’s the extent of it. Thanks to social media, I can actually initiate a conversation with someone without my heart racing, hands shaking, or a big lump in my throat making me out of breath.
And there are other things that social media has done:
- I’ve connected with clients who have increased my business.
- I’ve been informed about opportunities that have increased my exposure.
- I’ve heard the ‘voices’ of people I’ve never met… and had mine heard in return.
- I’ve become friends with artists whose work I admire – and have learned from them.
- I’ve found inspiration for my work in communities of like-minded people.
- I’ve discovered places to visit, restaurants to try, and activities to do.
- I’ve become more politically informed, aware, and involved than at any other time of my life.
- I’ve been there for people who really needed someone to talk to – someone to listen… RIGHT THEN.
- I’ve found charities that I want to support… and even found my sweet fur-babies.
- I’ve reconnected with people from my past who I honestly thought I’d never see or hear from again… and their friendship has blessed me.
- I’ve gathered a circle of friends from around the globe who are so present, so real, so important to me… who share my hopes, dreams, fears and joys… connections made that are so strong that most of us have travelled to meet each other in person – or have plans to do so.
- I’ve found MORE reasons and inspiration to actually get out of my house & go do things than I ever did before.
- I’ve been available to people in emergencies – they’re lost & need an address, a loved one isn’t picking up the phone but might be online, they have an appointment & can’t find a phone number… I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve been able to help simply because I was online and available to them.
- I’ve shared major life events with friends, family and loved ones despite the miles that separate us.
… there is no price to be put on all this. There just isn’t. I cannot calculate how valuable social media has been to me, how much it has enriched my life.
So yeah… I could read a few less articles, or watch videos, or take quizzes… and I will admit that back when I used to play FB games (no longer!) that was a monumental waste of time.
But you’ll never get me to admit that my life is somehow lessened by the fact that I’m digitally connected. Because it’s not…
It’s bigger, brighter, and more beautiful than ever.