Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Social Media Infiltration


I've been getting annoyed with myself lately.  Every time I have a moment of spare time, I find myself picking up my phone.  I find myself absent-mindedly scrolling through Facebook, refreshing the feed, and scrolling some more.  After that, I check Instagram, then maybe Twitter, then maybe Timehop to see what my activity on social media was this year, then back to Facebook again.  

This wouldn't be so bad if I only did it once a day--if I only picked up my phone at the end of the day to see what went on, and then put it down.  But, I don't.  I grab my phone repeatedly throughout the day, night, and it's the first thing I do when I get up in the morning. If I'm watching Hulu, and there's an ad break? Check Facebook.  Boring part of a show I'm watching on Netflix? Facebook.  Waiting in line at Chipotle? Check Facebook.  Waiting in line anywhere? Check Facebook. And the funny thing? I'm not even really sure what I'm checking for! Ah, Social Media (read my other post on social media here).

In college, social media like Facebook and MySpace (I loved MySpace, and was one of the last holdouts on the MySpace front), was super fun! I would sit down at my computer (I had a desktop back then) after class or after dinner at the commons, and check to see what was going on. Maybe I'd post a few bulletins, do a couple of surveys, and then I'd relax on my bed--read, do homework, go out with friends to Target or for frozen yogurt.  It was fun back then to be connected via social media.

But, that all changed when you could start carrying social media around in your pocket--at least, I think that's when it all changed for most people.  Sure, some people were addicted to the internet back in the day--but how many people could just NOT log out of the "Bored" chatroom on AOL? Probably not many. Social media was a fun thing you did to pass maybe a few minutes a day--sometimes an hour on the weekend. But, now? It's turned into this ravenous monster that apparently just won't stop eating things--eating time with friends, family, pets. I see car commercials that have features where you can check Facebook while you're driving. And it's insane--and if I had that car, I would probably use it. (Let's keep it real, I'm not on a high horse here about social media, I use it too much, which is what sparked this post--but at least I realize it).

Awhile ago, a video was going around about how Social Media takes from our lives, and it urged people to put the phone down. I saw tons of people sharing this on my newsfeed, and I just had to laugh at the irony. Thousands of people watched a video on how we should STOP posting on social media constantly and live our lives, and the FIRST THING these people who watched the video did was what? Go on a hike, bike ride, walk, run? No. Posted to social media. So, I was a bit of a troll in that regard when that video came out. And I still am--the people I saw post that are the people that I see updating social media the most. Maybe it really spoke to them, I'm not sure.

The fact of the matter remains: I have become increasingly disgusted with myself over my use of social media. It's to the point where, if I'm eating dinner with Tom, and he gets up to use the restroom, I pull out my phone. Heaven forbid I just sit there enjoying the ambiance/experience of life. 

I always say that I feel really lucky to have grown up when I did--the internet was a thing, but it wasn't THE thing. I went outside and played (when I wasn't in my room reading, of course), and when the internet came around, I played on that too--AIMing with people, going into chat-rooms, but logging off at the end of the day. And I still feel that way--I still feel lucky that I grew up that way, but I feel mad at myself that I can't sit in a restaurant by myself for a few minutes. And I think to myself (as I'm doing it): what would I do if I didn't have a phone? Like back in the day, when we didn't have them (at least, not to the extent that we do now)? Sure, maybe I would have been a little bored for a few minutes--but I would also have been engaged in the world around me instead of scrolling like a mindless idiot looking at things that just don't matter.

I remember when I was little, a friend and I went to Disneyland--we were waiting in line for Space Mountain (my mom was waiting on a bench at the end), and all through the line we were playing patty-cake games (not sure if that's the correct term)--but you know "Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack... All dressed in black, black, black..." THE WHOLE TIME. Different songs, but literally the entire time. And it was a long wait. And we annoyed everyone around us. In fact, we were so annoying that these two older teenage girls got mad at us and we were convinced they wanted to beat us up after the ride, so we ran through the exit to my mom on the bench. They probably wouldn't have beaten us up, but still. Not really the point, I guess.  

The point is that when I go to Disneyland now, and I'm waiting in line, I'm scrolling on my phone. And I see kids my age scrolling on their phones, or playing with their iPads, and it kind of makes me sad--like how we can't just be together anymore without this *thing* between us. If I were standing behind 2 little girls who sang songs throughout the entire wait of a line for a ride, I'd want to smack them by the end, I'm sure--but, I'd also secretly be happy. Because I can't help but think that's how it should be--that's how we should be.

Social media is a game changer, that's for sure--but it isn't THE game. It's just A game. It should be a very small part of our lives, but it's increasingly becoming the largest part of our lives. At least, I know this is true for me. And I don't want it to be.

I don't know why I need to take a picture of everything (Pics or it didn't happen! I guess?), but I pull my phone out a lot for pictures. Brunch! Traffic! Disneyland! It becomes more about getting pictures to document that it happened than actually enjoying the experience. So, when Tom and I had the opportunity to go to 2 concerts a couple of weeks ago, I made a conscious effort to be on my phone minimally. I could see people in the front holding their phones up the entire time, videoing the experience. To watch later? To post on the internet? Not really sure. But, I was determined to not be like them. I took a few pictures, a few selfies with Tom, and one small video per concert. For Mumford & Sons, the chorus of the song that made me adore them.  For Incubus, the chorus of the song that Tom listened to over and over again. And that was it. For the rest, I put my phone away, and had the experience.  Tom and I were also pretty good at this on our Honeymoon--a few pictures to say "we were here!" but not a picture of every single thing we did.

And that's how I want to live my life--a few pictures to look back on later, but focusing on enjoying the experience instead of documenting it. I want to make memories, not social media updates/posts.*

*Sentiment does not apply to the line for my DMV appointment on Friday.

It has not escaped me that this post is being advanced through and hosted on Social Media, but oh well. Nobody does chain letters anymore, and there's less of a hand cramp involved.  Well, I suppose there are newfangled chain letters: Like this post if you agree, share if you agree, comment if you agree--go outside and live your life without your phone if you agree. That's where I'll be. 

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