People like to argue that social media gets in the way of real, face-to-face human interaction. I don’t place much store in this argument. As a bonafide introvert, if it were possible to use social media to avoid human interaction, I would. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked so far. (I’m joking. Mostly.)
My greatest objection to social media is the never ending glut of information that spills out of it. Social media does not stick to business hours. There is no down time. I looked away from my computer screen the other day, and when I looked back a couple of minutes later, 65 new tweets had been tweeted. It is impossible to catch up, because users post content faster than anyone could ever hope to consume it all. Then, of course, there is the pressure to add to that content. And, furthermore, the pressure to add content that will stand out from the rest of the content.
I have found that the best thing to do is step back and limit my exposure. Were fewer things happening before social media? No. Celebrities still died. Protests still happened. Oil still spilled. Cats still looked grumpy. However, our exposure was limited to print, radio, and television. Fewer people could share their opinions and pets with a large-scale audience. The best thing to do is admit that it can’t all be consumed, and it doesn’t need to be. Before social media, we wouldn’t have had access to it all in the first place.
What I love about social media is also the never ending spout of information. I like reading tweets about people, organizations, and activities that I otherwise would have never known existed. I have found volunteer opportunities this way and discovered new favorite artists. I have often heard about news items through social media before articles have been published about them in The New York Times.
Furthermore, I love the collaboration and connection that social media fosters. Through social media, I chatted with an Acquisitions Editor for a publishing company based on the East Coast. I “attended” a bus tour of historical Portland by following the tweets of those who were actually on the tour. I’ve consumed more art, lectures, and music, than I ever could have accessed before social media.
As with all technological advancements, there are reasons to fight against and avoid social media. However, like many technological advancements, there are also ways that social media can improve communication and quality of life.