Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Delusion of Social Media

I know a fair amount of people who live their lives as if they were on a TV show. Believing that somewhere "out there" there is an audience who laughs when they laugh, cries when they cry and cheers them on when they're about to accomplish great things. And why shouldn't we believe this?! For the vast majority, a large part of our education has been through television or TV itself.

Unfortunately, this is a delusion. It simply isn't true. But even more unfortunate is the fact that today, with the advent of Social Media, it can be true... at least to a certain extent.

I know people who will post pics of what they had for lunch today. Their life has an audience now, I'm just not sure that audience really cares that much.

So what is Social Media?  I'm not looking for a legalistic definition. I'm sure you are more than capable of googling the question yourself.

Ultimately, it is a tool, and like any tool, it is neither good or bad. You can use it, or abuse it, or be abused by it.
I know may people and friends who like to count the amount of "Friends" they have on Facebook. Some of them even believe they're really friends. They're not friends. Do an experiment. Post a story that you're in trouble and you need a friend to lend you $ 1,000.00. See how many show up.

Now, Social Media (let me stick with Facebook as it is the largest) is customizable. Like I said, it is a tool. You can create a private small room of close friends to socialize in.

I don't believe Social Media is socializing. It is an interactive forum of sharing information of a social nature. It is the same confusion between knowledge and data. There is a difference.

I believe many people think that a good analogy for Facebook is a group of people socializing in a room. Some close friends and family, some acquaintances, and some strangers. I think that's a bad analogy.

It's more like being in a massive convention hall or auditorium or stadium with many, many more people. You travel and drift through the crowds, surrounded by your immediate circle of family and "Friends", but ultimately you are in a sea of people.

But there's an even better analogy, albeit a bit more desolate and bleak.

Thousands of people standing around the edge of the Grand Canyon, all shouting and screaming their inconsequential stories into the abyss. 

Let's face it, when you post anything on Facebook, you're not sending private messages to your family and friends directly; you're communicating into that great abyss that is cyberspace.

And yes, you can chat and send private messages, but this belongs in the realm of phone calls, talking, texting (maybe) and emails. This is true communicating and possibly socializing. No, Facebook doesn't have to be like this. As I said earlier, it is a tool, to be used or abused.

Another favourite of mine is Twitter. Like Facebook, Twitter too is a tool, but not really a social outlet.

My twitter account gets a few new followers everyday!
At first is feels great!... until you realize they aren't really interested in you or what you have to say. They're interested in using you to build up what they perceive to be their audience.

It is sort of like going out to your local pub on Friday night because it's Lady's Night, only to arrive at the bar filled with men in an awkward silence.

Now, there are people out there that understand what these medias truly are and see the opportunity and advantage they can be. My point isn't that Social Media is bad. Like I said, a hammer is a tool. Whether you use it to build a home to nurture a loving family in or for murder is on you. My point is that many people are delusional as to what exactly it is and isn't.

They abuse it. They are abused by it. They become addicted to it, ironically, at the cost of their real lives.


And finally, there's Blogger and/or Wordpress.
Although these clearly are not Social Media, it is still important to identify them for what they are. 

More or less, they're a soapbox. 

A Soapbox is defined as "a thing that provides an opportunity for someone to air their views publicly", often about politics or religion. 

The problem with having your own soapbox is that everyone on the internet can have a soapbox. You end up with a great many individuals shouting into the void thinking their thoughts, views, opinions and whatnot are important and listened to. 

I suspect sometimes, there are simply too many people shouting.

So let's recap:

Facebook = yelling into the Grand Canyon
Twitter = Lady's Night
Blogger/Wordpress = Soapbox.

So, at the end of the day, I suppose this post puts me into the category of hypocrite, doesn't it? Because here I am preaching on my soapbox. 

What does Social Media put you?

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