Social Media is Anything but Social

There have been numerous posts of this kind around the web. And you might have read one too. The social media we know today is so much different than what it is like before, or at least around 2000s when I embraced the internet and social media. Once it was a good way to connect socially. By connecting socially, I mean being engaged in bidirectional conversations.

Stay out of touch

Early social media allows us to keep in touch with distant friends and old friends. When I moved from my hometown to Jakarta for pursuing bachelor degree, I was far from my friends. Fortunately, I was already in the era of internet and instant messenger. And it was a great time that we usually signed in on Yahoo and MSN messenger and waited for friends popping up on screen. We chatted about just anything which came up on mind. From weather to food, from homework to lecturer to gossip. We kept in touch. We had great times.

When I was bored, sometimes I just chat random friends and ask how they were doing. And they would share excitements they encountered during the day, or a few bad stuffs or good stuffs. It worked vice versa. When somebody asked me how I was, I was happy to share my moments with fellow friends and know that there were people who care. Of course the depth of moments shared depended on the level of relationship. We may choose to share this with close friends, and share something else with someone else, or not to share at all even if asked by others.

The term “share” that we often hear, or read, or click, nowadays is not the same thing as what I understand years ago. Sharing a moment, a photo, a link, up on Facebook is personal, but not social. When we share something up, we don’t know who cares about us. Indeed there could be “likes”, but it’s just a click of a button. There could be comments, but let’s count how often you got engaged in conversations with them. Oftentimes when a person commented on your post and you replied it, the conversation ended there, except from people you are close to, whom you already connected with in real life, or via other telecommunication media.

With the ease of sharing filtered moments online, the value of keeping in touch with friends have been degraded to being a stalker. What would you say to initiate a conversation to get in touch with your friends? When everything is already shared on their wall, it becomes kind of pointless to ask “how are you?” unless they are really close with you to share what’s not on their profile. There’s nothing else to say. You already know what they are doing, and they also know that you already know the answer. Since people already posted moments of their life online, and we are not really that close with them to ask for something else more than what’s already posted online, what other topics would we talk about to get in touch with them? Politics? Money? Movies? Nah. Nurturing relationship is by sharing moments of life, which apparently already shared with social media.

Share the moment by ruining your moment

Check your social media updates stream. You might see people are sharing their moments. This is the trend. When we are in a party, we are capturing the moment, filtering it, and thinking of a catch phrase to be posted online. When we are having a holiday, we can’t wait to post the photographs and share the awesome places we have been. But the worst thing is that we often too busy sharing the moment and forgot to present in the moment.

The F.O.M.O syndrome

On the other hand, we constantly check social media updates stream to stay updated with what friends are doing. This leads to a real syndrome now called F.O.M.O (the fear of missing out). Yet no matter how much we keep updated, we will always be missing out something. You might think reading Facebook streams lets you know all the news about your friends. But it’s not. Facebook chooses what they want to show you. About half of the posts you see are old posts. And the new posts you see is not them all. So you are actually missing out. Moreover, most of those posts are from pages, not friends.

When we are reading posts shared by others, the more we know what others are doing, the more we feel miserable. The time we browse through social media feed the most is when we are bored. So we are comparing our downs with others’ ups. Then seeing friends doing stuffs without us makes us feel left out. The platform which intent is to be a social media in reality has become a life comparation media.

Quitting social media

The answer to this is so simple yet so hard. It’s like an addiction. But if you are like me, let’s engage more in real life and live a life that is real!