Social media sucks sometimesThursday, September 12, 2013
I totally skipped day 7 of Blogtember because it asked us to share links to our favorite online shops and opening the homepage of West Elm's website is detrimental to my budget (and consequently, my marriage). This is my impression of Clayton after he finds out about one of my shopping sprees: "How many ceramic owl figurines does one woman need!?" (And picture him saying it like a total sourpuss whose main purpose in life is to harsh my mellow because he doesn't understand artistic expression in the slightest.) Online shopping and I are a match made in heaven, and I don't say that with much pride or affection.
Onto today's topic!
This is an interesting writing prompt because it brings up so much to talk about. I could prattle on about blogging for hours, but it would more or less be a steady stream of "OMG, you guys. Blogging is just tops!" Everything I've derived from blogging has been overwhelmingly positive: receiving emails from strangers letting me know that my blog has inspired them in some way, fostering relationships with other bloggers, doing something I love every day, self-expression, and getting outside validation that I don't completely suck at writing. I'd actually be really hard-pressed to come up with ways that blogging has impacted me negatively.
My only beef with blogging is that sometimes I feel pressure (self-inflicted) to always have something to say or something to write about. My end goal is to write professionally and sometimes I fear that skipping a day of blogging will make me lazy, cause me to lose readers or completely kill my motivation to push towards what I want. But there are
The subject of social media in general is enthralling. If I decided to pursue my Master's in Gender Studies (which I seriously considered until I realized that I'd be paying tens of thousands of dollars for a degree that won't get me a job in this town), I would probably write my thesis about female relationships with and through social media, particularly about how it evokes competition and can produce feelings of inferiority.
But let me remove my nerd glasses for just a moment so I can explain how social media has impacted me personally. I'm one of those people who snaps pictures of the food she makes and immediately posts it to Instagram with some kind of retro filter to make it look hipster. I'm also one of those people who will have a really good run and then instantly log into Twitter to let my handful of followers know about it. Why? Because I want people to think I'm cool. I want people to think I'm good at something. I want to brag.
Do I think pictures of my pizza are going to influence some kind of dramatic world change? Of course not. But I want people to know that I make my own pizza dough.
There, I said it. I'm a shallow, narcissistic a$$hole, which is exactly why I love social media. I use social media in all of the ways and for all of the reasons that non-social media users complain about. With social media, I can let you see all of the pieces of my life that I want you to see; I can use my Instagram account to deceive you into believing that I am the next Betty Crocker or Usain Bolt. I can customize my life so that all the general public sees is my highlight reel, leading you to believe that I'm way cooler, more interesting and better than I really am.
And I only feel comfortable admitting this because I know I'm not the only one. Judging by what comes across my news feed on a daily basis, I KNOW I'm not the only one.
No gives two litter boxes' worth of crap how fast I run or that I baked a cake from scratch or that I read a book. No one. It's just my way of putting it out there that I am capable and that I'm just as good, talented and cultured as the next chick. It's to make me feel better about me.
Trust me, I recognize how lame that is.
So how has social media changed my life? Well, I can get lots of information very quickly and I can connect with people that I don't have the luxury of seeing every day, but for the most part? Social media is slowly driving me crazy. I'm feeling smothered by expectations (partly self-inflicted) and I truly believe it can be a breeding ground for a lot of personal strife.
It's interesting when I hear someone complain about how so-and-so is constantly flooding their newsfeed with status updates about politics and how it's like, so totally annoying. Shouldn't platforms like social media exist so we can open a dialogue about important global and societal issues? Or do we only want to invest in conversations about pop culture, food and gossip? Social media has caused people to start caring/worrying about things that we couldn't be bothered with before. You got a Pumpkin Spice Latte on your way home from work yesterday? Well, la-di-frickin-da.
Some of the happiest, most content people I know do not have Twitter accounts and they rarely log into Facebook. In fact, I feel most at peace with myself when I take a social media break (which I did yesterday because I had a fever and because I also didn't think that tweets about the coffee I drank that morning were appropriate on 9/11).
But social media is double-edged sword because you're kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't. As a blogger (and a journalist who has gotten paid to submerge herself in social media), my well-being rests with the internet and I rely on social networking to publicize my website in an effort to make a name for myself. As much as I want to step back sometimes, I know I can't.
However, I can change the way I use social media and it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. This entire post is an example of the pot calling the kettle black because I'm a huge offender of everything I dislike about social media (it just sucks me in). If you follow me in Twitter or Instagram, you'll notice that I post in bursts. Sometimes you might not hear anything from me for weeks at a time because I'm going through a period where I don't find anything about my current life worthy of sharing. And that raises all kinds of red flags and opens a whole new discussion about what is and what isn't deserving of our attention.
Which social media sites do you love and which do you avoid?