Wake up, check your Facebook, then your Twitter, then your LinkedIn, let’s not forget your Instagram, and then — maybe — it’s time to actually start your day. Sounds familiar? Social media plays a significant role in the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the globe.
Currently, more than 50% of American adults are using social networking sites like the ones I mentioned above — more than double the amount back in 2008. With dating sites gaining more and more popularity, will we have a need for actual, face-to-face human interaction?
Of course we will. Sooner or later people will come to the conclusion that spending the majority of our waking lives in front of a computer or smartphone only leads to lives wasted. But until then, we will continue to live on these social media platforms spending more time “talking” to people through a .com then we do in person.
There are more cons to living via social media than simply losing the personal connection only possible through actual human interaction; social media makes our private lives public. While this can at times be wanted, there are too many instances when we feel that our privacy has been violated — even though we ourselves are the ones doing the violating.
I always did find these sites to be rather ingenious. These social networking platforms give people the one thing that each and every one of us wants: the ability to speak and be heard — the feeling of connecting with other human beings.
Creating significant personal relationships with people is rather difficult, but creating superficial relationships with hundreds or thousands is much simpler and gives us a feeling similar to that of having a handful of meaningful relationships. The only problem is that at the end of the day, when you find yourself searching for a shoulder to cry on, you’ll have to settle for the hope of getting several ‘likes’ on your emotional and sentimental status update.
Social Media is the modern-day popularity contest — with no prize. People seem to believe that having thousands of people read your thoughts or opinions in 140 characters or fewer can take the place of having one good friend who will sit there and listen to what you have to say.
How popular are you really? Yes, you have nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter — but how many of them will come to your aid the next time you need a friend to post bail? How many of them will hold your hand after your parents pass away? Will any of them be able to give you a hug if a hug is the one thing you need to convince yourself that your life is worth living and that suicide is not the answer?
Social media is a great way of sharing your thoughts, but it is no way to connect with people that will actually matter to you down the line. If you wouldn’t know their name if it hadn’t appeared next to their comment on your page, then you can’t call them your friend.
According to ProCon.org, in the month of July 2012 alone, Americans spent 74 billion minutes on social media via computer, 40.8 billion via apps and 5.7 billion via mobile web browser; that’s a total of over 2 billion cumulative hours Americans spent in a single month on these social media platforms.
That’s over 228,000 years worth of time spent ‘liking,’ tweeting and commenting within a single month — and that’s only in America! All these hours completely wasted. Do any of you have significant memories associated with the time you spent on Facebook? Me personally, I can’t distinguish one hour spent on any of these sites from another — it’s all one big blur to me. And that’s how you will remember your life: one big blur of social media.
A life is only worth the weight of memories had. Sure, these sites and apps are great for staying up to date with the news, keeping in touch with friends that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to stay in touch with and can even help you land a job.
But at the same time, one out of two people have read something online that they believed to be true, which turned out to be completely false — not to mention that photos and comments have gotten more people fired or cost them a prospective job than they have actually helped people with their careers.
Like everything in life, social media comes with the good and the bad. If used properly, it can lead to a feeling of connectedness and help you flourish both in your personal life and career. Used improperly and you will find yourself with additional stress and less time to deal with it. Social media can be a great thing if used in moderation; nevertheless, it will never be able to take the place of actual, in-person human interaction.
Paul Hudson | Elite.
For more from Paul, follow him on Twitter @MrPaulHudson