social MEdia

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Is social MEdia really that good for us??

We have come to a point in our world of technology where people are getting blasted by endless streams of useless data.

Most people are simply re-posting the same content with the intent of increasing a digital network base. Sadly these networks are no longer built on personal relationships and human interaction, but rather on a digital ticker that validates how much time one spends on the computer and how much of that time is spent casting out one’s net in hopes of extending one’s network somehow.

The unfortunate part most people overlook is that social media is predicated on “sociology” and “society,” and society functions on real-life interaction…not data stream blasts.

The concept of social media on a mass market scale is fantastic, but like concepts, usually better in theory than in real-life application. Social media has grown as an industry like wildfire, and for good cause. It brings great joy to many people, and creates connections that may otherwise have perished. But its infant state creates great trouble, because society is learning just as the industry does, and nobody knows the future outcome.

Take Facebook for example: 4 or 5 years back if you were early enough to have a profile you were poking around at your  new friends, seeing where they were from, posting on their walls, and above all else you were busy updating your statuses to say something cool. (Do you even remember the $1 virtual cupcakes?!)  Today, Facebook has been adopted by everyone “and their mother” (literally), and it is no longer about the social interaction social media was based upon. It has become a huge monster of “Like” this and “Comment” on that. Our interests and hobbies have been whored out to major corporations, while every interaction is closely monitored and data-mined for potential revenue opportunities.

I don’t want to be misunderstood for trash-talking social media. It is one of the great forward-moving changes in modern society. It has shaped an entire generation, and a whole new way of thinking and perceiving. It has allowed people from every random corner of this planet to connect, and that is nothing short of AMAZING.

But on the flip-side it has created a culture of “Personal Content Censorship.” We hear much talk of the new transparency social media has created with relationships, employees, organizations, government institutions, etc, but what of the way it has shaped what the transparency is really looking at? Is it really transparent, or is it something else?

Sure you can smile at the picture of a potential employee out in a classy red dress on Friday night looking pretty, professional, and well put-together, but where’s the picture her friends took on her camera; the one where she got so drunk she pissed herself and fell asleep on the kitchen floor in that same classy dress. Would you feel any different if that was your own daughter? Her close circle will know what happened, but the social media world will only see the pictures of her saying “Cheese” for the camera when she was still sober enough to stand. I’m not crazy–I know nobody would ever share such an embarrassing picture, but its the mentality of approach toward what content to share and what not to share that bothers me.

Unfortunately, social media has created an illusion of increased transparency, when really we have moved to a point beyond it–I call it “Self-Promotional Transparency.” It is sad, but it is true–YOU HAVE DONE IT!

“Hmm…I’ll just put up those two pictures, but not this last one…I look too…[fat, pale, ugly, stupid–insert the self-promotional excuse of your choice here]”

It’s undeniable. And it drives the manner in which people present themselves online.

Self-Promotional Transparency is causing a shift in my generation. A shift that goes against the values we grew up with in the 80 s and 90 s. Sayings like “it’s what’s inside that matters.” Well, in today’s world nobody has the chance to find out what’s inside anymore…we make 5 first impressions before we even meet someone in person (facebook, google, linkedin, twitter, wiki). This shift is putting emphasis on acting, faking smiles, and reiterating opinions that may not come from within. My generation validates a relationship with Facebook, a Disneyland trip with Foursquare, and a good conversation with Twitter. It seems we are losing the genuine quality of interaction our parents grew up on.

Many people that struggle to fit in at elementary, middle, or high schools bring the “I gotta do X to be cool” attitude online with them. If you did something stupid at school it used to stay there and people would bring it up for a day or two…now a fight, breakup or embarrassing moment follows everyone home and onto the internet with the rest of the world. Kids no longer have to worry about looking cool at school–they have to do it ALL THE TIME! Peer-pressure and evaluation counts as much online as it does in person, and people are constantly passing judgment.

I consider myself fortunate to be living and surfing on this wave of revolution, experiencing the growth of something new and spectacular, but I am sorry for those younger than me that will have to deal with the negative consequences social MEdia presents in the future.

Social Media as an industry and as a way of life has great potential to benefit society, I simply fear we are slipping into a culture of personal content streams, rather than forming meaningful bonds through natural relationship patterns.

Thanks for taking the time.

What do you think, is social MEdia really that good for us??



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