I don’t quite get what social media is all about. There I have said it. It feels a bit like the 'emperor’s new clothes syndrome', everyone is doing it but no one really understands why they do it or what the point of it is. Or perhaps they do and it’s just me who does not get it.
Here is the thing, for example on my Facebook there are at least 35 people who daily promote themselves and their business/product /service. They religiously write daily status updates, post pictures and videos where they tell you how to live your life, change your life, be awesome. I realised that this is usually the build up to the book they are about to launch or the event (workshop, webinar, course) they want you to attend. Which is all well and good but is that what social media is really all about? Is it simply a space for self-promotion along with the blatant marketing of products and services to a semi captive and somewhat vulnerable audience?
I used to read every single status update as I felt that if someone made the effort to write it, it deserved to be read. Honestly, it made my head spin as there was so much, all the time. It was extremely time consuming.
Then I found out that I could choose which posts I wanted to see simply by going to settings and eliminating those posts I did not want to see. (Now that brings out the Simon Cowell in all of us). But it’s also kind of cowardly as the person posting is not aware that you are no longer interested in seeing their posts. C’est la vie! Of course its not just Facebook, it’s the same story with Instagram, Twitter (where instead of likes you have followers who validate you), LinkedIn and all the social media platforms out there.
So what is the point of social media? Why has it become a lifestyle for so many? Like so much about the Internet there seems to be the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good of social media platforms is that is does connect people. Also there are posts that do have gravitas and bring awareness to social issues, as in Jimmy Thornton’s posts about the struggles and triumphs of the LBGT community. Or Debbie Zarb Cousin who posts about the cruelty that animals needlessly endure and the appalling conditions they are raised in.
Both Debbie and Jimmy post from a place of authenticity and passion, their posts are not scripted, they don’t post for personal gain or to earn popularity points but for the greater good.
The bad is that because of social media we are living in a “Facebook Happy” social construct where our children must be smart, brilliant and adorable, where everyone must be gorgeous and successful, where all businesses grow magically to unprecedented heights, careers flourish and where everyone’s life must be amazing and full of endless parties, fancy dinners, holidays, shopping sprees and if its not, then don’t bother posting.
No one is interested.
Maybe that’s because when it comes to real life we are all on an even playing field (everyone has some serious crap going on in their lives) and as my grandmother used to say ‘ we all have a cross to bear”. Maybe we don’t really want to hear about someone else’s struggles or pain as that will force us to acknowledge that the real world is far from Facebook Happy.
The ugly is that there is an enormous amount of self-promotion going on, which is ok really but to what end? It also allows anonymity that can led to a certain type of meanness that blocks, unfriend, unfollows people without their knowledge.
I know that social media is here to stay. After all it’s convenient, it gives us fleeting moments of recognition and it’s free. It checks off a lot of the boxes we need to satisfy our social needs without having to actually physically interact with people and it drip feeds the feel good factor. So it keeps you going back for more.
It will be interesting to see how far social media will push the social boundaries envelope. Also, at which point in the game will we become conscious and get what it is really all about.