Getting Sucked Back Into Social Media

Black-hole

I can’t say that I was an entirely lonely high schooler, but I was rather limited in my extra curricular activities. The result of having such a strict upbringing was creating an outlet for myself via social media, which was rather dismal compared to the cooperative string of networks and applications we have now. Admittedly I relegated the bulk of my activity to BlackPlanet and dating sites with 14-day free trials, just so I could look at photos of cute boys.

But then I got to college.
Freedom!

In a sense. The option to interact with others in real life and in real time was much preferred over online social networks, chat rooms and free trials. But my connection to social networking never waned. It was an ability to comprehend the underlying structure of social interaction that held my interest. So after starting a career in clinical research, I found myself right back in the midst of social media.

Within a year I was writing and editing at Mashable, spending more time researching the regular happenings of social networks instead of enjoying them. Because of work I found myself observing social networking instead of truly experiencing it. That kind of observation can only get you so far.

So I took a break. Spent some time outside in the sun. Fed ducks at the lake. Perused antique shops. Went rollerblading (I know). And I shared very little of that with my online social networks. It was refreshing in a sense, but disconnecting in another sense. And now that I’ve begun to return to my hyper-active social media lifestyle, I fear for what I will become.

Yet there are so many forces pushing me right back towards social media.

I mean, spend a week away from Facebook. You’ll miss a lot of shared memories, in the immediate. Looking at Halloween photos a week late just seems moot after a certain threshold has been achieved, not to mention the ability for one to recount all the shared memories from friends within their proximate network is a timely and daunting task. There was a time when you had to bring extra film for your camera, take it to a developer, order double prints just in case, and hope it was worth the extra $6.95 because there was no digital preview display of your shots before you took them.

Where did we get the time to constantly check Facebook and Twitter, and consume the shared thoughts vibrating between our screens to our fingertips? How much of your daily time and thought process have you given up to flipping through albums and sharing links across the web? When does the sharing of too much knowledge (in the form of information) become a burden of social norm?

Granted, I am in no way longing for the days of 1-hour photo developing, shopping while I wait at Meijer. I couldn’t be happier about the ability to share photos on Facebook. I think it’s the easiest way to do so on the social web. And there are only a relative few that are more excited about social media’s potential than I am.

But I’m hesitant to jump back into social media full force. I fear the necessity of being glued to my phone, and carrying around my laptop more often. I fear the lack of social awareness I will have due to further decreased social network activity. I fear the disconnect. Either way.

Above all, I fear what this all means for us as a culture. Will our children have different pressures to face in high school? Will they grow up fully aware of social networking ramifications, or is it something that doesn’t really hit any of us until we’re well into our twenties? And now that social networking has become almost fully de-anonymized, will real life wall flowers be encouraged out of their shells thanks to Facebook, or further coaxed in?

So after hours of careful fear-pondering, I realized that I just don’t care. If I miss the last album you uploaded on Facebook, I’m sorry. Show it to me from your phone the next time we hang out. And if I miss a day of intense Twitter-chatting, so be it. We can catch up on all the important stuff when we talk on the phone. Real talk. On the phone.

And all that concern about the social ramifications therein? Social networks still represent an undeniable aspect of human nature, so I consider this all a part of our behavioral evolution. My lesson learned? Be brave enough to balance both worlds.

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14 thoughts on “Getting Sucked Back Into Social Media

  1. I hear you on this post! I took a break from GReader, I slowed down on my obsessive Twittering, logged into Facebook less. Sometimes I just want to feel like the rest of the less-disconnected world. Working on balance is a daily activity.

  2. Great post, I think people do tend to get warped up in social media. We do need to take time to smell the roses and enjoy the simple things in life, I wouldn’t worry too much about missing what someone posted on a web site, if people really want to connect with you there’s always phone calls and emails, heck you even have your own web site they can visit. The movie Surrogates which I saw recently paints a good picture of what could become of our obsession with technology. Our desire to stay connected through digital means could lead to us losing our connection with the real world.

    • Great point! Admittedly, I fell asleep on Surrogates (maybe I was just too tired from all the social media overload… ;)
      But from what I remember, that movie did paint a good picture of what could become of our obsession with technology. Then again, maybe the real world will just become our world of technology!

  3. I like this post :) It’s something I very much identify with. These days my participation in social media tends to be limited to sharing when I want, responding when I can & initiating conversations only if the mood strikes and the time won’t detract from “real world” connections.

    I think once I got over the hurdle of “letting go” & abandoning my RSS feeds, the compulsion to “maintain” a certain level of activity on other sites diminished.

    I salute your new found balance & wish you well! :)

  4. oh wow! balance IS key! thanks so much for sharing, God has been confirming this very thing to me the past day or so. GREAT read, girlie!

    whitney

    @Child0fGod
    @allthingsgodly

  5. Social media overload tends to be the discussion with so many of my friends online and even offline.

    There is something about twitter that I enjoy which is reading the RSS feeds of newspapers and of news platforms which I enjoy immensely. And then also quickly discussing with others who have read the article. A true learning experience for me.

    I usually though take those stories and link them on my facebook page or my blog to share and have further discussion with friends who give me a further insight to he article.

    I’m trying though to have more activities offline so that I won’t be tempted to be on my computer all the time when I am home.

    Fortunately when I’m not home on my computer when I am out in the world I don’t use my PDA or my laptop for I want to enjoy my walk or whatever I’m doing without all these gadgets with me.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • That’s so awesome of you to enjoy your offline world! I try not to look at my phone when I’m away from the computer. Admittedly I ended up working all through my 9 day cruise in Hawaii. Unbelievable, I know!

  6. “I found myself observing social networking instead of truly experiencing it”… so have you ever written about these observations Kristen? I’m a new reader to this blog- but I only have the vantage point of experiencing- instead of observing the media at a high level. Having only been blogging now for about a month, there is so much novelty that I’m consuming everything I find. I’m particulary interested in the unfolding of Web 2.0 and what they are coining the ‘Attention Age’… really cool stuff!

  7. Kristen,
    Was just having this discussion with my friend Craig, and he sent me the link to this blog post.
    You are so right-on with this. We can’t be “on” all the time — and no one but our own selves can say “No” or “Enough is enough.” And it is hard bc we will always be “missing out” on something by saying No. But the “No” does empower us.
    Thank you!
    ~ Alli

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