I quickly scanned the notifications on Facebook, checked my Instagram feed, updated my Tumblr, responded to blog comments & tweeted back to someone all in a matter of about 10 minutes, and later got to thinking..how often do I find myself with a few minutes of time to do whatever I want, and immediately begin to scroll on social media? We check our phones, Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. multiple times a day, and then complain about the lack of time in our lives to do what we “need to do” or want to be doing. I think it’s time to begin to introduce a little self-control when it comes to social media. Do you really need to post another “selfie” or be up to the minute on what everyone else around you is doing? What really matters in life? How many followers we have on Instagram, or those real relationships we have in our lives?
I sat down to lunch with a friend the other day, and the conversation turned to the fact that many of us used to have pen pals, and be so excited to receive a written update on the other person’s life, phone calls were the preferred method of communication, and with a good friend or special someone, could often last for hours. People would look forward to meeting up for a coffee or lunch to catch up on the latest ongoings, while now we can find out every little detail of what our friends have been up to via photos, tweets, check-ins & status updates. Is social media wrong? Absolutely not. Does it serve a purpose? Certainly. Do we need to perhaps shift our perspective on it? I think so. Many in the generations before us have often commented that our generation is very narcissistic, entitled and too connected to technology, and while I don’t agree completely, I have to acknowledge the truth that perhaps they are right about something. You see, our connection to technology is really fueled by the need for connection...we join social networks to gain that sense of belonging, the essence of what every human desires is the acceptance and connection to others who acknowledge your worth. Now most of us wouldn’t say that we joined Facebook, Tumblr or Instagram to be fulfilled in life, but when we get new followers, likes on photos and comments on our status updates, doesn’t it feed that innate desire to base our happiness on other’s approval? We take our photos from just the right angle, we add filters to make things appear a certain way, and post our meals, favorite places, and self-portraits to be shared with the world..for what? While I appreciate the connectivity that comes from being able to find out what a friend is up to, or to be reminded of a birthday (admit it, we’ve all been there!), there’s a growing deterioration of creating relationships that are built on time invested with people, in person.
Our society is one that runs on a “busy” time schedule, and we want our information, food, and things immediately, and forget that things of value often take time. One of the most important things in life is the people that are around you. Invest in those relationships, find your worth and security not in an amount of “likes” or “followers” on social networks, as those change almost instantaneously, but rather search for your acceptance in the one opinion that matters most, God. People’s opinions change, we see this all the time with trends in music, fashion, and celebrities, but when you begin to discover the beauty that each person holds within, and invest time in relationships that matter, you’ll no longer desire the fleeting, counterfeit “happiness” that social media tries to feed us. Now, before you think I'm totally bashing the usage of all Social Media, please understand this: I appreciate it, and I work with it on an almost daily basis for my job, as well as for fun, and within this blogging community. I've even gotten a degree that required multiple courses that focused on understanding how it can become a powerful tool for both business communication and branding, so I don't think it's completely terrible.
So what's the solution to this ever growing obsession? Should we rid ourselves of all our accounts? No, but I do think that in finding a balance, and living life instead of documenting every little thing, we’ll find that we don’t need to rely on it as much as we first thought. To help me keep things in perspective, a little break from social media every now and then helps to reset my outlook. I choose to leave my phone off while seeing a friend or while I'm doing things with family because sometimes being in the moment is more important than documenting it. It helps me to remember to enjoy life for what it is. There’s beauty in every moment if we disconnect ourselves long enough to enjoy it. Instead of the constant barrage of words, photos and opinions, fill your mind with beautiful things, enjoy the day, live a little. Life is far more wonderful that way.
What are your thoughts on social media? Love it? Hate it?
How do you find the balance between online time and real life?