(Anti)social Media

Having been crowned ‘most addicted to Twitter’ and ‘most likely to win gold at the selfie olympics’ at my high school prom back in 2014, it’s relatively safe to say that I am partial to spending (a lot of) my free time on social media. Quite the titles to uphold as you can imagine.

Bluntly, Social Media is almost entirely unavoidable and I don’t mean to be dramatic but it’s a  bit like the plague. It’s nowhere near as bad as the plague, obviously, but it is a somewhat accurate comparison in terms of catchiness. Bare with me.

If anything, social media gives us the perfect excuse to be anything other than social. It allows us to hide behind a screen and excuse ourselves from physically interactive situations like meeting for coffee or going for dinner, drinks and a good old catch up with friends. You already know about your friend’s new job from her Facebook. You already know how her holiday was because you already liked the pictures from her trip on Instagram so why would you waste time to meet up when she’s going to tell you stuff you already know, right?

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My generation seems to be one that is plagued with anxiety concerning direct and indirect human contact and I have to question if this is due to us becoming completely numb to other methods of interaction that don’t include DM’ing someone or tweeting them back . I’m not doubting that social phobia is a genuine illness and some people physically cannot cope with interacting with others, particularly those that they don’t know at all. Unfortunately though, nowadays the majority of us won’t pick up the phone to the doctors or dentist because we don’t like speaking on the phone. We’d rather send a Facebook message to a hair salon for an appointment rather than go in and speak to a stylist. We won’t book to eat in a restaurant if it doesn’t let us book online. Social media and the ease of being able to interact online have more or less destroyed both face-to-face and vocal interaction.

I don’t intend to sound like a total cynic. I do love social media and I enjoy flicking through Twitter and Instagram maybe a little too much.  I have a social media and digital marketing internship and in the future, I’d ideally like to work in social media marketing and branding . I like being able to easily contact my friends who don’t live anywhere near me. I like being able to chat with my university friends about assignments, I like being able to share my opinions on current affairs, new albums, trends or annoying people on the train  via my twitter account. I like having somewhere to share a few pictures here and there of my favourite memories.

Recently in a digital branding lecture at university, I learnt that only 10% of people who are socially active online would willingly participate in a digital detox. And While I’m probably part of the contrasting 90% it simply reinforces just how consumed we are with having a presence on social media platforms. We now live in a time where we have to have Twitter constantly to hand to feel in the loop. We have to constantly refresh our snapchat stories page to see what our friends are up to instead of actually asking them what they’ve been doing.

Social sites back in the day in the form of Myspace and Bebo were exciting new channels of communication, allowing us to interact with others online in a format other than email or everyone’s favourite MSN messenger – oh the nostalgia. Naturally, they got a bit shit and were overtaken by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. However, these sites aren’t exactly exciting anymore either but the pressure of remaining active on them is ever present. If you don’t post regularly, you’re viewed as boring, disinteresting and out of the loop.

Social media is everywhere and I mean everywhere. Almost to the point where it has become overly intrusive. Let me give you an example. You’re in a clothing store, you pick up a few things to go and try on. You head to the fitting room and you’re standing there more or less naked in your underwear. You glance up at the mirror and theres a sticker plastered across it “Snapchat us your outfits to be featured on our story!” with multiple hashtags to use on Instagram if you want to post it there too. You have to wonder where the boundaries lie. In a moment that should be private for you to try on some potential new clothes, you don’t have the peace to just do that without being hounded to share it with the world.

I don’t see social media sites going anywhere soon. If anything, I think they’re quickly going to become everyone’s main method of communication if they’re not already. Of course the importance and increased use of social media sites is a sign of the times but it’s just not really very social at all, is it?

Leigh.

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