How do we feel about social media these days?

“Distracted from distraction by distraction” 
― T.S. Eliot

A genuine question, kittens. I ask because Katarina and I had a delightful hour and a half long conversation on the topic the other day and I have not been able to get the conversation out of my head. I joked about it when I mused what I’d like to give up in 2018 because I didn’t quite mean it…but didn’t quite not mean it either.

Last year I started logging out of Facebook for extended periods of time. I don’t really enjoy it as a platform and haven’t for years, but I’ve kept it because it’s an easy way for people all over the world to keep in touch with me. A military brat and an expat, my friends and acquaintances are scattered across the globe and I justify keeping my Facebook account to make it easy to connect with them…but maybe I need to be more honest about the fact that most of the friends I keep in touch with regularly, I keep in touch with through other means. My best friends and I talk, text and email weekly. I have a lively correspondent base and Facebook isn’t how I keep in touch with them. I’m holding on to it for a purpose that I don’t actually use in real life. My logic is flawed.

Less personally, I don’t really like Facebook anymore. My feed is a constant stream of advertisements and wannabe viral videos and memes. For a long while I watched and uptick in people sharing content I didn’t like or agree with (this was a few years ago) so I started culling my list of “friends” until it actually represented friends. From 2014-2106 the content turned political and the tone turn downright vicious so I went through another culling period and started muting people whose views troubled or angered me.

In other words, I became part of the problem so routinely ascribed to Facebook these days: that it shows us content we already agree or align with, reinforcing our views.

I’m now trying actively to correct this by widening how I consume media, and Facebook is not the way I do that. I’ve subscribed to newspapers that I previously enjoyed mostly for free (got to support journalism now more than ever), and I make a deliberate effort to read commentators and platforms or publications that represent different views than me. I might not share them as much because, hey: my blog, my rules, but I do read them.

Instagram is a platform I still enjoy, even though it’s owned by Facebook and I haven’t liked a lot of the changes that have been made to it as a platform (a non-chronological feed for one thing). But it’s a place where I find beautiful images and interesting people and so it’s still a fun thing for me. I follow friends, a lot of beauty and style editors and writers, vintage sellers, some bloggers who I either know or have interacted with in some way over the years, and a few theme feeds that give me a much needed daily dose of pretty.

Twitter I’m torn over. I didn’t really use Twitter all that regularly until the 2016 campaign and now I feel a bit like a junkie who needs it to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I subscribe mostly to journalists, editors, writers, bloggers, and podcasters whose content I enjoy, and politicians whose views are relevant to mine or to my life. But let’s be honest, as a whole, Twitter is a hilariously overly-dramatic place. If you acknowledge it and don’t believe everything you read, you can enjoy the ride. But if, like me, you’re a person who tends to take a lot of things very (or too) seriously, it will convince you that the world is on the brink of self-destruction or that people are mostly garbage if you give it too much of your time. It’s not a platform that encourages good mental health or stress management.

As for all the other social media platforms, I’m either barely or not at all active on them. Bad blogger!

I’m not sure what this thinking will coalesce into but it’s an idea I can’t really get out of my head. Katarina and I had a lively discussion about whether social media will stay as relevant or how it may change in coming years. I don’t think you can write it off entirely, especially given the current political landscape of the world, but it’s been interesting to watch how it’s been leveraged or monetized past the point of authenticity for so many people. We also chatted about blogging and how that medium has changed over the past decade, but that’s another rambling post altogether!

I think I’m going to keep off of Facebook for as long as I can avoid logging in. Other platforms I’m still up in the air about. How about you guys, how do you use social media and how has your use changed over recent year? Is it weird I’m thinking about this so much, or do you guys ponder this stuff to? Lend me your thoughts!

8 thoughts on “How do we feel about social media these days?”

  1. I’ve come to some similar conclusions. Social Media seems to slide between being mind-numbingly inane and surprisingly vicious on a semi-constant basis. It’s all too easy to lose precious time mindlessly scrolling, or getting into arguments with people that you will never convince anyway. While I do have Facebook and use Reddit frequently, I haven’t even bothered setting up Twitter – from what I see it just doesn’t seem useful in any way to me. There is a great book called Deep Learning by Cal Newport, when he makes the shrewd point that these days people will jump at any new form of media/digital tool if it seems to provide some form of value, even if overall what you get out of it is less than you lose from it. Over the last year I have certainly become more cautious of using it.

  2. It’s a really good question. I had Facebook for about a month a few years back, and I just felt as if my life was being wasted. I quit it. I have never tweeted, but I do have an Instagram because I like looking at pictures and it doesn’t take that much time. In my opinion, I’m happier when I’m not online, but being online is a good escape when you need it. BALANCE IS KEY!!!

  3. Twitter is my new favorite; I follow only about 730 people (and most of those are journalism outlets, not individuals.)

    I’m still on Facebook for the same reasons you are (global pals) but also because I belong to about half a dozen writers’ groups there that are only online and which give me a social outlet, work tips and even got me my new agent — through someone I haven’t even met.

    I do think social media at its BEST can be a tremendous benefit, certainly for those of us working solo, but also a place for others to bully and troll.

    I’ve become more fond of Twitter and have loosened up on how formally I present myself there — too many people are tediously “on brand” and they look and sound like robots. Or it’s all HERE’S MY OPINION and who cares?

    I’m also posting more on Instagram and (sadly) thrilled when my photographer husband says “You’re killing me here!”

  4. I think social media works best for me when I think of it as a way to provide value for others. Whether it be support, a good laugh, or just a cool photograph, you can create your own positive environment for yourself and others online. That being said, it can be hard not to get drawn into the negativity and drama of others. I guess that making personal boundaries for ourselves and using settings in social media to block negative people can be part of the solution.

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