The Ironies of a Social Media Age
I recently finished reading Randi Zuckerberg’s book “Dot Complicated.” I hadn’t realized Mark Zuckerberg had a sister until I received the book as a Christmas gift. It was an easy and interesting read, especially for women in tech or media.
The book did remind me of many of the ironies I see in our social media age. Do you deal with these?
We live in a world with more connections and less depth. I hardly know much at all about my thousands of twitter followers, and I don’t think I could if I tried. There’s only so much you can make room in one heart.
We live in a world where we take a photo and miss the view. I am guilty of this too often. I love nature. I want to preserve it, but often look through the iphone before my own two eyes. Technology gives us tools to record, but what are we enjoying if we are always recording?
We crave the ephemeral and the permanent. We want to share our moments unnoticed (Snap Chat), and we want archive them forever (Facebook Timeline). Both seem to thrill, fascinate, and irritate us. Like humanity, the moments are fleeting but the comfort of a timeless feeling helps us feel more connected.
We put on our happy face front, but we really want the personal. It seems like a social media commandment to remember that your online communications are a professional reflection of our selves. But we don’t really want this. The stories and tweets that are shared the most, evoke a personal connection in us. This is why I write about digital storytelling.
We’ll share our emotions before directly speaking about them. And sometimes the opposite happens. We’ll find it easier to tweet, blog, or post an angry and personal status, then to actually talk to a person about our problems. It’s probably better to deal with the problem in a real-time situation.
We believe in social media action, but question this type of support. Too often you hear about social media “likes” or “tweets” as showing support for a cause. Yes, word of mouth can help ideas spread. Ideas can be powerful. But then you’ll also hear criticism. What does a tweet really do to change the oppression in a country? Or help the homeless? Is speaking out enough help?
We can see people all around the world, and know very little about their world. I’ve always loved the powerful connection of a hashtag. On Christmas Day, you can click #Christmas and view all of the photos around the world. But, while entertaining as it may be to view in on a stranger's celebrations, what do you learn about their world? What do you learn about others?
Our “Selfies” perpetuate false images of the self. There’s no way to really, truly show who you are 24/7, and possible even online. Selfies are mostly those good looking photos that we want to live up too or show others. Yet, they perpetuate an unrealistic image, shaded by Instagram.
I love how technology connects us. I love that it provides a world of positive opportunity for digital storytelling and especially digital publishing.
But I also am victim to the ironies of a social media age, in which we are sometimes a little less social.
One very important takeway I found from Randi's book was the value of our attention. Randi sees it as our means of currency in the social media age.
Where are you spending your attention, then?
Upcoming: If you're in the Detroit area I'll be hosting a Social Media Magic Workshop, and a talk on building online communities. Would love to see you there.