I love social media. It’s a godsend for stay-at-home moms/dads and work-from-home people. It’s our version of a water cooler. In theory, I can pop onto Facebook or Twitter or whatever, spend five minutes checking out the latest posts and commenting, and then return to my work.
In reality, it’s a time suck. It’s so easy to get distracted by people’s posts and to engage in “conversations” with them, riffing on something they, or I, said. All of a sudden, I look at the clock, and twenty minutes have passed. How did that happen?
Social media is making me judgmental. It’s incredibly easy to point fingers at people’s mistakes online, whether those mistakes are grammatical, ideological, or just plain stupid (see, I told you!). For one thing, while you’re supposed to put more thought into writing, the type of writing done on social media is so fast-paced, no one agonizes over what they’re posting. Chances are, we’d think more about it if we were going to have a conversation in person, rather than across WiFi. For another, I don’t care how many emoticons there are, no one reads what I say in exactly the way I meant them to hear it.
Snark is lauded, even when it progresses to mean and bitchy. The quiet ones become the popular ones, because they’re funny and make people laugh. Only, that laughter is often at the expense of others, who can’t comment for fear of repercussions. And others, who have no relation to the original comment, join in, twisting words even further and taking those words in directions they weren’t intended. Meanwhile, the ones we hurt disappear into the Facebook ether and we never know why.
Social media is also killing my attention span. Because it’s so easy to pop on and off the various sites, whenever I am stuck doing something I’d rather not do, I distract myself with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It’s gotten to the point where I have to remind myself to finish something before going to “have fun.”
And social media prevents me from engaging with the people around me. I’m so busy formulating cute status updates or tweets, or reminding myself to post that photo on Instagram, that often I forget to just be in the moment.
I’ve been denying it’s an issue for a long time, but I think I need to start using a bit more discipline. Rather than trolling on a site when I’m bored, I’m going to read a book, or clean (ugh) or go for a walk (providing it ever gets warm enough). I’m going to stop thinking of how funny this would sound on Twitter and just participate in the actual event. And I’m going to be careful how I speak on Facebook, especially when I speak to/of others (about myself, well, I still have no problem making fun of me). And if I screw up, call me on it!
Social media is still going to be my water cooler. I’m just going to be a bit less hydrated.