Sunday, May 1, 2016

Thirty Day Writing Challenge: Day 1 Five Problems With Social Media

As a way to get back to regularly blogging, I thought I'd share my responses to a daily writing prompt.

I've been focused on editing my dream journal this year.  So far, I've edited about 40 of (slightly over) 365 dreams.  It's the way less interesting cousin of writing and having the original dreams, but there are decidedly fewer spelling errors (;

So here's the first post of 2016!

Five problems with social media: 

1.  Although it's a great way to peripherally stay in touch with various aspects of our life and the people who shared those times with us, at its heart, all social media platforms are businesses.  They don't charge us...because we're the product. 

2.  Because social media is a product we aren't charged for, we have little to no say in how it is changed and tailored around us.  I've yet to meet a person who would prefer to see the most commented on posts over the most recent. 

3.  With all the various platforms, social media can feel like an obligation-  congratulate the newly engaged, the new baby, the big job/ condolences for the accident, the illness, the death or misfortune.  It's not that I'm not entirely sincere with each of these, but it feels like you HAVE to stay connected to even know. 

4.  I used to make a point of wishing everyone a happy birthday, or go thorough and thank each of the service members that I know at veteran's day, mother's day moms...etc. 

But then two things happened:  Facebook put a cap on the same kind of posts you can do in a day, and treats you like spam if you reach their quota.  The exact warning is that you're not using Facebook the way they want you to.  And second, I decided that I could just as easily replace them with actual cards, or my voice...so if I didn't have their address or speak to them, they didn't actually need my birthday wish because I'm just one in a sea of many and Facebook won't actually let you SEE all of your birthday wishes anyway. 

And 5. Between pages, suggested posts, advertisements, and what's popular, you really, REALLY have to look to find people's posts.  To help deal with the algorithms they have in place, I set most pages not to send me anything, and if someone crosses my mind, I visit their wall, send them a post that they'd like or that makes me think of them, or send them a message.

That said, there are actually a lot of good things about social media, so here's five.

1.  We ARE connected to people from every aspect of our life!  They are literally just a click away. 

2.  Groups!  I love, Love, LOVE that there are groups.  It doesn't matter what the group subject in, these are people as passionate about that thing as you are.  And they are communities that help and support each other.  Groups are what social media used to be, before the marketing. 

3.  Social media is an -excellent- platform for small businesses, artists, bloggers, authors.  Pages are a lot like groups and if you don't worry about trying to farm likes for numbers, what you have are people who are sincerely interested in whatever it is YOU are doing. 

4.  Cat pictures.  (And dog pictures).  Flowers.  And sunsets.  Photography was always an elite...but people are documenting the wonders they encounter daily, and even a cell phone can capture beauty. 

And 5.  Inspirational memes and world news.  I'm a believer in synchronicity and the world conscience.  With so many people connected, social media is now more frequently ground zero for breaking news because real people, actually there, are telling their friends about it, who tell their friends, and six degrees of Kevin Bacon later and you know about the earth quake in Madrid before CNN does.  Or the posts/memes in your feed resonate with you on a deeper level, because they also resonate with the original poster.  Social media tends to help me sort myself out when I start to feel adrift. 

And so I would say that social media is a microcosm of the world itself (well...because it IS), filled with both good and bad features, and imperfect people trying to navigate and find meaningful connections.

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