How Social is Social Media?

Does judgement, conflicts, selling a lifestyle, posting pointless images with unrelated song lyrics count as being social? Let me ask you a question. How many Instagram (or Twitter) followers do you have? For many, it’s well over 300. Out of those hundreds, how many do you actually know? How many do you actually interact with? If you’re answer is “not many”, or thereabouts, let me ask you one final question. Why do you want strangers to see your life? You’re not interacting with each other, I’m assuming you just want to be looked at. Is this being social or is this just a crave for attention? What was the original purpose of social media? It was to stay connected to friends and family, right? It was a way of keeping in touch without actually keeping in touch. It was essentially an update of your life. Let’s be honest, it’s not used for that anymore (or very rarely I should say). In this article, I’m not going to talk about how businesses use social media (that will come another time), but more how personal users sell their lifestyles on various platforms and how some misuse the channel.

What’s Changed?

Social media feels like it’s been around forever. I mean, what did we used to do when we were waiting around for something? What did we do when we were procrastinating at work? What did we do on long journey’s? It’s crazy to think social media has only been a ‘thing’ for little over a decade. But a lot has changed in its use in that time.

When platforms such as Facebook and Twitter first came around, we were given a purpose for them by the brands themselves. Facebook was supposed to be used to connect people globally. Twitter was more or less the same except it was more interactive, especially with celebrities (and such) being a lot more active and personal on this channel.

What’s changed is that people have let the ideology of being connected to the entire globe get to their head. The possibilities of what you can make out of this became endless. For those who realised that early on, they have become successful. They have created businesses and careers out of it (e.g. The LadBible and ‘Vine-ers’). But nowadays, everyone wants the same thing. They want to be seen. They realise the possibilities, so they’ll do anything for a like or a retweet. And ‘anything’ became worse and worse and continues to do so. People will embarrass themselves. Matter of fact, they will degrade themselves if it means they get seen. If you want an example, I have one word for you…TikTok.

What’s changed is that the users of social media have realised there’s no limit to what they can do or say on the channel. They almost get lost in it, like it’s detached from reality. It’s detached from reality because people can be whoever they want. Who says you have to use your real name? Or your own photo? Or your own thoughts? People can be massive on the socials but hidden in real life. People have actually forgotten that social media is a part of the real world.

This can cause trouble. I remember I got suspended in school for uploading a video of a kid singing a Peter Andre song and pranking another kid. I thought it was hilarious. But I forgot the people who were seeing this were real people, and some of those real people were people I had a professional relationship with (the students and teachers). But I was a kid, I learnt that lesson early. I see adults making similar mistakes. I saw someone on LinkedIn telling their life-story of how they got to where they were now, which is fair enough, but some of the content was not relevant for that platform. This lady was telling a lot about her personal life, focusing on her past relationships, on a platform where your professional credentials matter, not your personal matters. Something like this would stand out on LinkedIn because it is content which does not fit the purpose. It’s as if they are looking for the attention so they get views on their profile and likes on their post. Only businesses should live by the saying “any publicity is good publicity”, not people. You’re not getting the views for the right reasons. I highly doubt your future employers have a keen interest in your ex. I also highly doubt it’s doing you any favours.

People

People who use social media use it in a way to attract a certain audience. You’re behaving like a business. You want followers to see what you get up to but you don’t even care about them. You don’t care who see’s just as long as they see. You’ll behave like someone you’re not just to get them to see you. You will act like a completely different person online than you will in real life.

People will only show one angle (literally) of themselves. They only get their good side, and I’m not just talking about their selfies. In order to get them followers, to get that popularity and attention, people only show the best versions of themselves (if it is actually themself).

Does this effect people’s behaviour in real life? I feel like it might. I feel like there may be individuals who get so lost in this virtual world that they change their actual habits. They become this other person, one they prefer, so one they become.

Why?

I don’t know…

It could be years of media portrayal of the “ideal” person or lifestyle. It could be the vacuum we call the internet and the virtual world, which ironically could be seen as a disconnect rather than a connect to the real world. It could be something deeper than that.

DISCLAIMER

There are plenty of people who use the socials as a place for creativity, sharing new ideas, alternative news, fun, raising awareness and, it’s original purpose, connecting with family and friends. I respect the people who do that. They’re being positive and are taking advantage of such an impactful platform, rather than getting lost in it.

Here’s the Irony…

Follow the socials! (lol)

Comment below or share your thoughts using the hashtag #YouHerdItHere! And remember to #FollowTheFlock.

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