May 26, 2019

The hazy relevance of social media

Answered with a Magic 8-Ball

As someone who proudly has a MySpace without any idea of what my login information is, I think we should really question the real-world importance of social media.

From Friendster, to Myspace, to Facebook and Twitter, social media has been with us for over a decade. But as the fads of each site come and go, is it really necessary in our lives? Is it good for society, or is it hurting us?

There are people out there who believe that Twitter is forever, but time has shown, with websites’ departure from relevance like MySpace, that kids and adults get bored, and they’ll look for the next new thing.

Is social media relevant? SIGNS POINT TO YES.

In 2008, Barack Obama became the first president to have used social media to fundraise for his campaign. This cemented social media’s arrival, and the idea that it could be here to stay.

Celebrities and politicians have taken to Twitter as their personal soapbox, and mainstream media is watching. Everywhere you turn, news outlets are quoting Twitter posts, and these people enjoy free press simply by posting their political thoughts online in 140 characters or less.

Even terrorist groups like ISIS use social media to shape their message.

Who defines something as relevant? Society does. If the people, en masse, accept social media as a legitimate political pulpit, then it is one.

Is social media good for relationships? MY REPLY IS NO.

More drama has been started or exacerbated over social media than anywhere else ever.

It is now less offensive to tell somebody off in person than it is to anger-delete someone from your friends list.

When you’ve been having a dispute with a friend of yours and they delete you from Facebook, the world hears about it. It’s the biggest possible attack someone can hit you with, aside from a physical confrontation, of course.

Even when social media isn’t being wielded as a weapon and is being utilized in a positive way, it still isn’t good for relationships.

We’ve lost something with social media. When we find all the people we’ve known or been friends with from a young age, what’s the harm in adding them to your friends list or following them on Twitter? On the surface, it looks good.

The real outcome is that when we “like” or “favorite” the things our friends post, what we’re really doing is making it OK to diminish social interaction.

Social media is to social interaction are what text messages are to phone calls. You lose personal connections and everything becomes clinical and distant.

What did we do before social media? We actually went to see our friends. They weren’t just a picture in our “Top 8,” or one of the hundreds of other “friends” or followers we have. Why have a conversation with someone about an issue if we can be lazy and just hit the like button?

Facebook Messenger has even added a thumbs-up button so you can simply “like” what your friend is telling you without actually having to do the work of responding.

It’s causing physical distance from the people we know and making us feel less obligated to interact with people in the real world.

Is social media here to stay? CANNOT PREDICT NOW

Who knows? Things come and go, and social media is still so new that it hasn’t proven its staying power.

If we do continue to have social media in our lives, you can expect it won’t stay in its current form. Facebook will fade away; the only current form that might last is Twitter. Twitter is incredibly mainstream and used by everyone it seems. If it goes away, it will take longer than Facebook and others.

Hopefully we’ll move toward a type of social media like Skype. At least if everyone were doing that, you’d still have to look people in the eyes when you communicate. It’s healthier that way, and leaves less room for vague misunderstandings that lead to public fights between friends.

In reality, no one can predict what the future holds for social media. We just have to use it wisely and for a purpose. Social media hasn’t been around long enough to gage its success in the long term. It could continue to succeed, or the bubble could unexpectedly burst.

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