We see it everywhere these days. That great big “thing,” those two scary words that send people into a frenzy. Adults head for the hills, parents warn their children with bedtime horror stories. Whatever you do, don’t be consumed by it!
That’s right…social media.
Oh, how frightening social media can be. More and more you might see an article about the dangers of Instagram, or the sterility of Twitter, or the deviancy of Tumblr. “Something something, social media is ruining our friendships, something something, social media takes away from our real life experiences, something something.” The message is clear. And in a world where the president of the United States is allowed to rant and rave on his Twitter account with impunity, there’s certainly a nugget of truth to all of that.
However, I think this extreme caution towards social media is unnecessary.
According to a post by Jay Baer, “social media forces upon us a feeling of intimacy and closeness that doesn’t actually exist.” (link: http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-tools/social-media-pretend-friends-and-the-lie-of-false-intimacy/ ) But I do not think this has to be the case. Why does that “feeling of intimacy” social media gives us have to be incorrect or negative? Who is to say the vast mediums we can communicate through have to take away from our relationships, or create false ones?
Social media enhances our daily lives and can strengthen our relationships, not ruin them. I can say so from experience. Two years ago, I had the privilege of meeting some lovely people abroad in the UK and Ireland. I made some wonderful friends who I hope to keep for many years to come. But keeping in touch can be tough! Sometimes it’s difficult to call someone up the old fashioned way, especially when they are hundreds of miles (and several time zones) apart. They might not always have the time to text me about every intimate detail of their lives. However, they can tweet about their day, post a picture from their newest adventure, or blog about their experiences.
“It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don’t understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television.” Amy Jo Martin could not have said it better. The information on social media is public, certainly, but the public nature of that information doesn’t have to detract from my own personal relationship with those people. A post on social media is only a flash of a person’s full life, but that doesn’t have to make it false information. One post from a friend might be the spark of a real conversation. My friend just tweeted that they don’t feel very well. That tweet might motivate me to reach out to them personally. I might message them privately, text them, or even call them up to ask how they feel. I see nothing inorganic in that. And say I only replied to that one tweet and left it at that. Did I not still reply to their words? Would they not still read my response, and in turn react to it?
Social media certainly has its faults. It gives us a flurry of information that we have to weed through and absorb, and it may not always be genuine. However, it is also an opportunity to communicate and connect with one another more effectively than ever before. And that opportunity should not be taken for granted.