Before I start, I need to mention that this article has to do with the entire range of social media networks that exist today: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram etc and not just one in particular. In the first of a 2-part series we will examine the good and bad of social Media networks in general.
I started using social media back in the days of MySpace. At that point, I had a lot of time on my hands and the entire idea of having my own ‘space’ on the net intrigued me. I was writing blogs, interacting with others on the forum, making friends and enemies. It was fun.
Then Facebook came along and took over. So after a few years of using Myspace, we ‘migrated’ to the new platform that was now all the hype. Facebook had a different interface and its biggest attraction was the fact that you could see exactly what your friends were doing, thinking or whatever just by looking at the activity stream. How cool is that?!
You can post pictures, chat and interact even better than Myspace. But all these cool features come with certain side effects that you should be aware of. And this is what I am going to talk about today.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Good
- 2 The Bad
This is one of the obvious pros. You can connect with new friends and extend your own social network in real life. Its biggest advantage is its ability to help you socialize with members in your zip code.
Connectivity with the entire Globe
As a social media user, I am able to connect with a lot of people all over the world. Places I have never been to, new habits and cultures all there in front of me. I can interact with people who have the same interests as me, half way across the globe.
Not only that but certain social media have been used to transmit important information at times of crisis (such as a terrorist strikes) to inform others about safety and the status of the situation. I can clearly remember people reporting the situation during the bombings of Paris and Belgium in 2015 and 2016 by posting messages or videos at the time when the phone networks were overloaded.
When used properly, facebook can be great for finding new clients or selling your services or items. It can be a great marketing tool, provided you follow certain rules.
Reconnecting with old friends
This is perhaps the coolest feature of Facebook. You can find your old classmates and reconnect. That pal from the army days is also there. So is your high school sweetheart. Provided they do want to reconnect with you too, of course.
Ease of connectivity
Sometimes all we need is to ask someone a quick question. Forget phones or emails. Jump on Facebook and chances are, your contact is there. Just send a message or chat him up. That’s it. You got your info and now you are moving on! Time saved!
The obvious part. I personally had a lot of fun while using it back in the day when I had a lot of time on my hands.
Now let’s look at some of the problems of social media and Facebook.
Wasting precious time
Facebook and social media are a lot of fun. The problem with that is, when you are having fun, it is easy to lose track of time. You will forget to do things on a personal or professional level.
People spend entire days chatting with others on Facebook and don’t even eat or sleep. Which brings us to the next point.
No personal Growth/improvement
People get lost in the world of Facebook. Pretty soon, they also lose interest in developing their own personality and following their dreams.
Who cares if I am unemployed and have no plan about my life? I got 5000 friends on Facebook!
Loss of personal connection
The digital age gave us the gift of connectivity. As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest pros of social media is the ability to connect with other cultures or reconnect with our past.
However by doing so, we lose connection with the people around us. People would rather talk to their interesting new friend at the other side of the world, than say hi to the person sitting next to them.
I can understand that sometimes you just want to escape your current reality. But as human beings, we get easily absorbed and tend to take things too far. When that happens, we lose connection with everything around us.
Facebook and the social media have replaced other forms of communication like talking, writing letters (does anyone send letters anymore?) or just picking up the phone to talk to someone else.
Programs like Skype are cheaper than calling and more convenient. Plus you have the added benefit of seeing the other person on camera rather than just hearing their voice on the phone. So, of course technology gave us a lot of new tools but because of that, we are slowly losing the true connection with others. This will eventually cause us to lose connection with our own self.
People think that they have friends online. But is that really true? Does the term ‘friend’ match its true meaning in real life? Certainly not.
Friends on social media are just numbers on a list, most of which you have never met and/or never will.
Some people feel confident in having large number of friends online without having any interaction with them. Meanwhile in real life, they might only have a couple of real friends.
We connected with each other online and then we got disconnected from everyone else around us. Families now eat while staring at their phone or tablets, instead of chatting with each other at the dinner table.
And before you call me old-fashioned, take a look around you when you go outside. I see groups of people going out and then staring at their phones instead of interacting with each other. Are we still humans or zombies?
The phone is now a living entity with a voice of its own, commanding you to do things.
Misunderstandings, online and offline drama
Facebook and social media networks follow certain rules that do not always comply with human psychology and the human way of thinking as we know it. To put it in simple terms, you do not know what the other person is thinking or doing when you are interacting with them online.
A lot of actions online are open to interpretation. When someone switches their profile from single to married, did they really get married? If they go from married to single, did they really get a divorce?
Someone pressed ‘like’ on your status, does that mean they really like you? Are they kissing ass or did they like what you just said?
What if someone you actually like does not press ‘like’ on your comment, does that mean they don’t like you?
Sometimes that’s what it means. Or sometimes it may mean that they didn’t read it, they were doing something else. Before you know it, a misunderstanding breaks out and you fight with other people and that is how online drama is born.
Then there is online drama that can escalate offline. And that can often escalate to something uglier…
As human beings, we always follow our emotions and feelings. People who are full of passion, resolve to extreme acts in order to impress others or have their way.
But that is one of the things we will talk about in our next article. Until then, live your life, strong healthy and free.
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by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200