I love social media — I really do — but it also has its downfalls. So here are my opinions on it, as experienced in every day of my current life.
First of all, what social media platforms am I on? I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I use Facebook for talking to my friends, here in Costa Rica and in Canada, as well as for being a part of the Go Teen Writers community. Twitter is for posting my witticisms in the name of Que What Now, and Pinterest’s purpose is to keep me up to date on my fandoms, writing prompts, and art appreciation…… mostly fandoms.
Now that we’ve determined what I use social media for, let’s talk about why I love it.
I love the fact that I can learn from other people with the same interests as me. I love that I can keep in touch with my friends in Canada, even though I haven’t seen them in many months, and make new friends around the world. I love that I can share the hilarious jokes and ironic randomness of my life with people who weren’t here to hear to see it the first time (a.k.a. people who aren’t my family). I love that I can see what an entire fandom is up to, and be a part of an inside joke with thousands of other people (#YayHamlet). I love being able to see other people’s opinions on things, even when they are contrary to my own. I love being able to appreciate all forms of art, from anywhere and anyone, because it makes me happy to do so.
This is only some of the amazing power of the social life of the internet.
So why do I hate social media?
It’s not because there are too many stupid or ignorant opinions out there. It’s not because I have become reliant on the validation of strangers. It’s not because it takes too much time to keep up with. It’s because it gives me something to do.
Have you ever had a project, and it’s due, like, tomorrow and your brain just turns off every time you look at that document/article/notebook/sculpture/thing that you’re supposed to be working on? You’ve done the very beginning and don’t know what to do next so you are just left staring at that faceless mass going, who the hell thought this was a good idea?
I did that today. And yesterday. And the day before.
What do you do when you are in this spot? You find something else to do, because if you are busy doing something else, you obviously don’t have time to be working on The Thing. But also, you know that you have to be working on The Thing, so you don’t want to start a whole new project, because you will be getting back to this one in ten minutes, right? So where do we go? Social Media. Because you just need a small break to let your brain turn back on, and then you will go back to the project.
Well, yesterday I spent all afternoon talking to a couple of friends on Facebook and laughing way too hard at my own awful jokes, instead of doing anything useful at all. Today I did the same thing: I looked at The Project and went, you know what? I wonder if anyone has liked that hilarious tweet I posted last night! And I ended up joining a Twitter conversation about whether Darth Mickey Mouse or Master Kermit would win a rap battle.
Why do I hate social media? Not because it’s a distraction, but because it has taken the place of boredom. If I was procrastinating on The Project, but had nothing else to do, I would eventually go back to it, because it’s more interesting than doing nothing. If I was procrastinating, and had to get off my computer to find a distraction, I would probably end up reading, or drawing, or talking to my family — doing something that was good for my brain, instead of sitting on my laptop all afternoon, getting nothing done.
Social media platforms are designed to make you keep scrolling for as long as possible and, unfortunately, they are really good at it. But me wanting to stay on Twitter has nothing to do with how interesting Twitter is (sorry Twitter friends), and everything to do with my own desire to be distracted. I love social media, and I do not intend to stop using it, but I feel like I should use it more efficiently. I want it to be something I actually enjoy doing, not something I do in order to avoid something else.
This is a reflection on personal experience, and not a commentary on how other people spend their time. But perhaps you should consider how you spend your time, and why you spend it that way. I hope to feel better about my time usage, even if I don’t get better at actually finishing projects, by changing the way I think about my time, and using it in ways that actually better my self, or at least make me happy…. Like writing a rant about social media instead of actually being on social media or doing my actual project right now. This is definitely the best use of my time….
I am now going to prove my point by overly enjoying posting this on social media, and you can follow @QueWhatNow on Twitter to see all of the witticisms mentioned earlier while you are avoiding whatever Project is open in the other tab right now.
See you on the interwebs,