I’m in a love-hate relationship with social media. This year marked my sixth anniversary with Facebook, and I’ve had Twitter and Instagram for almost as long. These years have proven to me that social media can be all-at-once incredibly amusing, undeniably powerful, and frustratingly deceptive.
I think that if 2016 is the year of realizing stuff, then 2017 will be the year of posting more and better managing my social tools. I’ve realized a lot about social media, and one realization is that I don’t use it nearly enough. I have my reasons, listed below. Here are my realizations about the joys and pitfalls of being a social media user.
There’s so much I love about social media.
- Connecting people from all over the world. Adopted children have used Facebook to locate their birth parents. And we can all stay in touch with each other, even if we move or change phone numbers.
- New art forms. Is it just me? Or has Instagram ignited the photog and picture editor in you? Insta allows users to turn everyday moments into a photo blog to create and admire.
- Glimpses into celeb lives. When I was eight I remember thinking, “I wonder what Hilary Duff is doing. Right. Now.” With Snapchat stories, I can see what Hil is up to at any point in the day, as long as she’s posting.
- Memes. Twitter sparked the proliferation of memes. And I just love memes.
- Social media management. Companies are hiring coordinators to manage their social media accounts, which is not only a really important task for brand management but also a chance to get creative.
- Branding. Speaking of the importance of social media, it’s a way for people and companies to expose their brands just by gaining followers or buying ad space. Social tools have become the most effective way to reach audiences.
But there are also parts of social media that…well…
- Rules. You can’t post more than one Insta in a day. It’s best to post on Instagram at 12pm or 8pm. Says who? They might seem constricting, but most people, including myself, tend to follow these unspoken rules.
- Doing it for the Insta. What came first – the picture or what’s in it? I think we shouldn’t make life decisions based on what we can turn into an Instagram post or what will get us the most likes.
- If you didn’t post a pic of it, did you even do it? Um. Yes. If this were true, than I haven’t done anything in months. I like to live by this mantra: “The best parts of my life haven’t made it to social media.”
- Trying to get a good like ratio. It’s so hard not to watch the number of likes on a photo rise relative to the number of minutes it’s been live. Resist it, people! If we like the pic we posted, isn’t that enough? Sometimes I wish I could disable the likes on my Instas.
- Slackers’ guilt. Maybe I’m more private than others, but I don’t Instagram or Tweet very often. And then I feel so guilty about it! I barely posted during my time abroad, and that was because I was too focused on enjoying traveling, but I sometimes look back and wished I shared more of my best pics.
I think a lot of people would agree with me about the positive aspects of social media and the nonsense downsides to it. Some people would probably say I’m complicating things. But I think it’s important to be critical of these platforms as they grow and increasingly shape society. In my own social bubble, I’ll continue to use them with caution. And I might also make 2017 the year of sharing more stuff.