Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

11Jan/160

Social Media And You (And Me)

I'm old enough to remember before Social Media existed. Heck, I remember before the internet, cell phones, unleaded gasoline, and video games existed. (Yes, I'm old. Shut up and get off my lawn!)

Seriously though, as I've gotten older, I've gone through phases of using the internet and social media. Back before the Internet even, there were things called dial-up BBS's that you could dial into with modems, and were their own little self-contained social computer networks.

Somewhere, someone had the idea that "more is better" in the American tradition, and turned ARPANet into the behemoth that is now called the Internet.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The internet is a tool, much like anything else we use to get things done. It has potential, and pros and cons. Sometimes it's the right tool for the job, and sometimes it's not.

For collaborating on documents, researching, and connecting with people far away, the Internet is a good tool. It's allowed us to do things that were once the realm of science fiction.

But what most people use it for nowadays, a.k.a. "social media" it's not only a poor choice, it could actually be harmful to us socially.

We are constantly balancing things like privacy, security, and convenience. The question we should ask ourselves is "what real problem does Facebook/G+/Twitter solve, and is it the best solution?"

The truth is, things like Facebook didn't solve an existing problem, as much as they created a need. We didn't know we wanted to keep up with everyone we'd ever met, ever. It wasn't a need: it just sounded like a cool idea, and we were sold on it. It's a convenience, not a solution to an actual problem.

I don't spend nearly as much time on the internet as I used to. I lost count of how many internet forums I've joined and let fall to the wayside over the last 20 years. Did my needs change? No. There just wasn't the kind of return I'd hoped on the amount of time I invested.

I've discovered over the years that Social Media just doesn't provide what it promised: a loving interconnected world of love and fellowship. It just doesn't happen, for the most part. Granted, I've made some real friends from the internet, but they are very, very few.

I will probably continue to use Social Media every now and then, like I am now, to keep up with the (very few) interest groups I still participate in. But I just don't have the time and energy to sink into every single interest I could be chasing, when I could be spending that time actually doing something. You know, like spending time with people in person. Or writing, or playing music, or learning a new language.

For the most part, Social Media is a consumer's game, not a constructive thing. You don't even have to think anymore: just click the "like/+1" button and the world knows what you think! Until you realize that everything is flooded with "likes" and they're meaningless. They accomplish nothing, and get you no closer to where you want to be.

Sorry if I'm being a bit of a downer. I don't hate Social Media, per se. I just have less and less reason to use it as I get older, and realize I've wasted untold years of my life pouring into time sinks with nothing in return to show for it.

What would my family look like if I'd spent that time pouring into my kids instead? I shudder to think of it.

I'm not going to change much of anything, really. I already have backed off of my internet use tremendously. There's only one or two communities I actively participate in, and I have no intentions of expanding that and dividing my attention any futher than it already is.

So, thanks again for reading my stuff. I'm going to keep writing, and I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to fully engage the world I'm in, and let that play out however it needs to. I'm here, I'm plugged in to where I need to be, and I'm loving every minute of it. I don't need to spend hours a day checking out what everyone else is doing. I'm just going to keep rolling, keep moving, and hopefully I'll get to enjoy the life I've been given to the fullest.

So all that being said, the question I'm going to leave you with is this:

What would your life look like if you poured time into your friends and family like you pour into Social Media?

Don't wonder: find out for yourself. You'll be a better person for it.

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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