I don’t want to get all hipster-braggy on you here, but I was one of the earliest adopters to social media. Like, I just so happened to be going to college for a semester at the exact same time that Facebook launched at the local university, back when you could only get on the site if you were a student at one of the universities they had launched at.
I’ve had accounts on social media sites across the spectrum, especially back before I had kids, just to see what they were all about. Goodreads, Twitter, Reddit, Myspace, Instagram. Yeah, they’re all older sites and there’s good reason for that.
I’ve never really found myself caring all that much for them.
Sure, when I first got onto Facebook and started finding my friends on there, I definitely spent a far too much time trying to find ways to interact and amuse my loved ones. I was even worse about the amount of time spent on Myspace back when people cared about that one. There also was this one place called StumbleUpon which was really just a place where people could share links, and I wasted years of my life just clicking the button to see the next random thing people wanted to share with the world. And when I was first able to link up my phone with Facebook and Twitter, I excitedly shared all of my comings and goings around the world with everyone.
And actually…that might have been right around the time that social media died for me.
Sure, it might have died a slow death, and I definitely still get online daily, just to see if anything is going on that I care about, or to share little things about my life. But, I really just don’t care to spend any time thinking about clever things to do on those sites. And I think the reason is, it’s too damned ubiquitous at this point.
When I first started using Facebook et al, it was something I would do when seated at a computer. It would be something I could keep track of fairly well because I had just a few friends who were using the site and I could see everything they were doing and they could see everything I was doing, and I’d ultimately be all caught up with what was available on the site with about 30 minutes of wasted time. And the second I stepped away from my computer, I was away from Facebook. If people wanted to interact with me through there, they’d just have to wait until I got back.
It was, in many ways, a slower method of communication, because it had some pretty strict limitations.
And then the good old smart phones came alone, which I absolutely adore. I was watching this technology for years, back when they were talking about these cool tables that would do all the things that we now hold in the palm of our hands. But these devices also mean that things like Facebook are now constantly available. They mean that if I were to post something to Facebook right now, all six hundred of my friends could, in theory, see it immediately and then all start commenting and liking it and then I get a notification for every single one.
Every single post now is just a huge distraction waiting to happen.
And while I love the attention and being able to communicate with friends and family in this kind of way, I also find that it can get pretty exhausting. I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Like, it’s so great to be able to connect with people I haven’t seen in 20 years, and act as though nothing has changed since we last talked, or to have regular conversations with people I’ve never actually met before who live on the other side of the world. I love the communication that we are provided through things like Facebook. The quick-fire way that we can congratulate someone on something they’ve done, or show our likes and dislikes for things happening in the world. It’s made it where we are all very much a part of each other’s daily comings and goings, and I think in a lot of ways, it has made us much closer as a people. Especially when you take a second to look at how much we are willing to share our religious and political beliefs in such a public forum. Although, I suppose those beliefs have also done a lot more toward separating us from each other.
I hear a lot of people complain about how Facebook and company are causing us to interact with each other less and less, but, at the same time, if it weren’t for this crazy platform, I wouldn’t have ever learned that my friend from 10 years ago became a grandma a few years back, or a second time just a few months ago. We didn’t have that level of communication. But then when I saw that friend again for the first time in 10 years, I could say, holy crap, you’re a grandma, right? And they could go on to tell me all about their grandchildren, bringing us into this whole new level of conversation that might not have happened if we had had no connections over the past decade.
So, I’m torn. Obviously companies like Facebook are not the greatest in the first place, and I really dislike a lot of what they do. Also, I struggle with posting anything just because I have a hard time keeping up with all the notifications as well as trying to come up with some way to react back to the people who are showing their support or whatever.
But I love how much closer I feel this has brought us to each other. Where friends from years past could go forgotten, we now have a way to be a part of each other’s lives on an incredibly regular basis. And, if I’m being honest, that’s kinda cool.