What do the social media do to us – and what do we do with it?

If I were 18 now I would have ADHD or concentration problems. I would switch between studying and checking my Snapchat every 15 minutes. I would have distorted image of real life. I would believe that the people on Facebook and Instagram have a lot of fun in their real life, and I don’t. I would have distorted image of myself. Well, it was already distorted, so maybe, it would not be that worse)). But my self-esteem would suffer since I would compare myself not to the glossy images on TV, but to “real” images of beauty bloggers of Youtube and those Instagram divas with styled brows, big lips and sexy limbs which they are not shy to show.

Yes, I am talking about the social media and how it changes our ways. I don’t want to make an apocalyptic analysis here, and I don’t want to draw a totally negative picture –  I am just really curious about how did happen that we got addicted to sharing, and what does it do to us? I imagined how that would have shaped me when I was growing, and to be honest, I am happy that I grew up in the pre-Internet era. But today’s youth seem to cope with it somehow, and I wonder how they do it. I also wonder how people manage to keep balance in the time when it is so easy to get absorbed into all those distractions. The smartphone is called “A cigarette of modern age” – I find this metaphor aptly as I see the mobile glued to the hand of everyone like a cig was in the movies of 60s. So how do the people cope with this new addiction?

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When I talk of “the youth of our days” it makes me feel like I am an old granny (the sentiment I don’t enjoy). But I am no better, really. The day I discover the feature “stories” on Instagram I spend half an hour watching them – like some magical TV, and next day I have to stop myself from grabbing my mobile to snap a pic for stories, like 10 times on a short walk in the neighborhood. I feel like a teenager when it comes to those features. And mind you, I am not on Snapchat – I can only imagine how disturbing it would be for me. And I am 36, not 20 (more experience and critical attitude, thank you). As I see young girls checking their Snapchat every other minute, snapping photos and videos, it makes me kinda dizzy, to be honest. I have this love for zen and balance, and these things make me feel way out of my zen. But maybe, it is just me, and all the rest handle it quite fine?

Last time I was in Barcelona, I saw three rickshaws giving a ride to young girls. The drivers were playing, driving in crazy lines, the girls were screaming, having fun – in the setting of the sun, the palms, the port with the yachts. And at least three girls were holding mobiles out. Right, if you don’t share it, you were not there. But dear, no one really cares about you riding a rickshaw, even in Barcelona, they will watch it and switch to something else. It will not go viral. So put that mobile aside and just take everything in. Maybe, it will never repeat – you, young and laughing, in Barcelona with your girlfriends, those funny guys driving you under the palms. I doubt, that you will watch this video again, after some years it will get lost. But you will always have the moment in your memory – so soak it in!

So here is my question: what does sharing do with our perception? Do we have to divide everything in two: one part for our own experience, one part for sharing? As I wrote this question on  my other blog, one of my friends shared a story. She lives in France, and her cousin was visiting her for a couple of days. All those days were busy with photos, photos, photos – taking as many as possible. And when others pointed out to the absurdity of situation, she would reply: “You don’t understand, I do it for you!” It was all about picking the locations that would look best in pictures, changing clothes in the car “cuz I cannot be in the same outfit in every pic!”. As my friend recalls, her visitor was not present, not at all (and she was not a teenager, but a girl in her thirties). And then you look at her Instagram feed and say: “Wow, such a rich life! So many experiences!”

I don’t want to blame social media – it is us people who are using them that way. And I am personally thankful to Instagram because on a grey October day when I was sick, it gave me inspiration and made me go out and look for beauty. I thought that I have to live in Paris or London in order to find many pretty things – but when I started to look around, I found a lot of beauty around me. In Oslo, which I used to view through kind of negative lenses, thinking that this city has no surprises for me. But it had, and still has. Because when you set out searching for beauty – you will find it. But then there are such things as likes and followers, popular accounts and numbers… Honestly, I would hide all those numbers. The number of likes and followers – I would make it visible only to the owner. Because we others don’t need them – or do we? They only kindle the spirit of competition in us, and then it results in envy, weird promotion strategies, mass following, comments made by robots, making money on follower-growing. Really, do we need it? Numbers don’t inspire. The beauty inspires – the numbers don’t.

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Last week I read an  article about a health coach, an Instagram ifluencer with 325k followers, and her experience of walking away from all social media for a month. She tells how she started her account for sharing a process with its ups and downs, helping others and inspiring them – but ended up caught in numbers and caring about how she looked in pictures. And how this detox changed her perspective on using the social media. Another great point she makes is that we get so used to stimulate ourselves constantly that we never allow ourselves to be bored. And being bored with yourself is important for living a happy and fulfilling life, she says. I didn’t understand why. But I found it out when I tried a day of social media detox.

I was talking and talking about the digital detox for months and wrote it in my resolutions for 2017. But nothing was happening. And after reading that article I said to myself: “OK, you are doing it. NOW. No more excuses”. As I found out, being everyday on IG is really not that important. And being bored with yourself is really important. Because as I got that extra hour (hours?) I use on social media – and no stimulation – I got inspired to do other things. To read a book, to write a journal, to review my wardrobe.  It was just one Sunday – and it was a great day. I now hope to stick to the routine of doing digital detox every week. It feels so refreshing to walk away for one day. It hadn’t looked to me that way before, I thought: “I am not really in need of it – I am not that obsessed”. But you know, excuses aside, we all need it (except for those who use telephone only for calls and answering messages). No mail, no messenger, no IG, no FB, no Snapchat. Only you and people around you. And life as it is.

I would really appreciate your thoughts about the matter. How do you handle your life-media balance? Do you have some tricks? And for those of you with children: what do you want to teach them about using social media?

27 thoughts on “What do the social media do to us – and what do we do with it?

  1. what a wonderful write up! Kicking off social media is difficult.It’s quite irritating when your friends click picture with you and post these pictures by tagging you on FB. Or sometimes, they tag you in check in. In my opinion, it’s invasion of your privacy. But it’s something that they don’t understand. In the end, you don’t want to hang out much with them… Modern dilemma!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you for sharing! Yes, there are so many dilemmas – and we are still working on them. I know about tagging on Fb! And what about parents taking photos of their kids and posting them without asking them? Imagine growing up like this, when everyone was watching you as a baby. No fun, if I ask me. And you can’t stop hanging out with your parents when you are 10 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Absolutely true. Among all social media, FB is more popular here and is surely more invasive as once you are tagged, you can seen by hundreds of people.
        I guess either humans or social media will evolve… to survive. 🙂

        Like

      • I agree on the invasiveness of FB. Though I myself use it less and less, and more – Instagram, which strong influence I feel.
        But you touched a good thought: we will evolve, together with social media or not. And maybe, the media itself makes us more aware and conscious of how we are)) there must a brighter side to it!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post with an interesting topic and lots of good points. I so agree with you about everything. I’m 38 and very happy we didn’t have social media as a teen. It seems so exhausting! And I did a huge amount of traveling before this era, in my twenties, when I luckily focused on absorbing moments and scenery rather than capturing it on camera…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I appreciate!
      Right? I see teenagers with phones in their hands and remember that insecurity – gosh, I am thankful I don’t have to do it again with all that sharing fuss going on.
      And I also did a lot of traveling before FB came – I was taking pics though, with my simple digital camera. I am a lover of taking photos, not only for memories but as a way of seeing the scene or a detail. And you know, sometimes I regret that there was no Instagram then, haha, so many places I see there, which I have been to. Don’t want to go back there just to take that photo again, lol. I think, I have a problem here…X-))

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, I really like your article! Thank you very much 🙂
    First of all I want to write about using your smartphone in public. Lately I was invited to a meeting of leading business people in Europe. Nobody used a smartphone there. And at another occasion I was invited with some high powered managers. One of them used his smartphone. The reaction was: “Can’t you afford a secretary?” I suppose using the smartphone or not is nowadays a kind of class difference. There are groups in our society seeing the public use of a smartphone as “proletarian”.
    You asked the interesting question of the connection of sharing and perception. Sharing is centred on the receiver meaning that the emphasis isn’t on the subject, the sender, but on the object, the receiver. You are kind of de-individualised by reflecting how you will appear in the receiver’s eye. The individual perception becomes changed to a collective perception. Therefore if you look at pictures shared the people all look alike and not only in fashion but also from their gestures and postures. Of course a homogenous mass is an ideal consumer for mass products. Was the ideal of my generation to be individual or even eccentric that seems to have changed, you have to fit into a mainstream which is defined by the media. It seems to me that this sharing of usually potty pictures produces what Herbert Marcuse called “the one dimensional man”.
    Have a happy Sunday
    Klausbernd 🙂

    Like

    • Hi, Klausbernd, and thank you for your comment! It is interesting that you had this experience with high power class (not all of us can boast of that :)). I am amused by the idea of “proletarian” use of smartphone. It got me imagining the high class managers hiding in the bathrooms to check their facebooks and twitters, haha. Jokes aside, do you think they are not on social media at all? Or is it about not hanging on the phone in public? They have their ways of networking, but can they be totally offline? Or are their social media profiles also run by secretaries? 🙂

      What I like about internet is that possibility to connect to persons who are physically out of my reach. And social media gives this illusion that you can interact with a writer or photographer that inspire you.
      I appreciate your philosophic mind on the matter and weaving the communication theory: so do you say that in such sharing the sender is more preoccupied with the receiver that the message itself? The funny thing with being individual that is seems to be sold like a cool idea, but must be bought in packages 🙂 It is like Ikea making its catalogue and saying “express your individuality with your mix”. I find it really funny. Like being eccentric and not like others is really cool – but still you have to play by the rules. Set by cool kids (reminds me of working with teenagers :)). Such a paradox!
      “the one dimensional man” fits here very well. Is it something that needs to be produced?)) Hasn’t this man been there all the time – and is just reinvented by the modern media? I see it this way: in the age of sharing the originality can grow stronger, and cliches can grow stronger too.
      Thank you for great input!
      Marina

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good morning, dear Marina,
        thanks for differentiated answer 🙂
        First to the so called high powered people: Most of them don’t use social media (they don’t want to be known) and those who do have their PR agency dealing with it.
        That’s the paradox of our society that individuality is only accepted if it’s actually a mass product. But you are allowed to play around with prefabricated bits and pieces to keep up the illusion of individuality – well, as you write it as well.
        Have a happy week
        Klausbernd

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good morning! Your comment got me thinking, so it is me who should be thanking 🙂
        I guess, the people we are talking about have their networks that don’t need facebook or linkedin 😉
        Yes, isn’t it funny how everyone wants to express his/her individuality but through the kits you buy in the store? and the big brands use these words in their ads. Like there is so much individuality in drinking Starbucks or buying Ikea :)))
        Have a great start of the week!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a love-hate relationship being on social media. In ways, I love it and praise it because this is how I keep up with my family to see what their up to, see pictures of my nieces and nephews and baby brothers and sister (I have a 1 year old sister believe it or not). Two years ago, I went on a digital detox for lent for about 2 months. I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to have so much free time on my hands to not check every app every 30 minutes. This was before I started my blog however and so social media wasn’t very important to me back then anyways. I would love to say I could do that again but being that I am more engaged on social now more than ever because of my blog, that is a promise to myself I don’t know if I can keep but have been dreaming about it. Even if it’s just for one week. We will see. But love your insight on it and how wonderful it must have been to grow up without all of these distractions, I wish I could go back in time and see what that’s like.

    Btw, a friend and I were just talking about the graffiti artist who drew that picture of the little boy you have above. His name is Banksy if I’m not mistaken.
    http://www.lacasabloga.com

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    • Thank you for sharing! That can be my definition of my relationship with social media too 😉 I started FB when I was in Norway, and what can be better for keeping in touch with all friends that stayed at home and that you make while traveling? You are in touch, and don’t have to write those newsletters which I did 12 years ago. That was the reason to start a blog in russian, btw 🙂
      And I love Insta for all inspiration it gives to me. But then I get obsessed with numbers, and other profiles “how come she has 5k?”, and trying to be more, do more…Ah, all that energy. could be useful some other place. So I have to a point where I need balance.
      wow, 2 months is a huge amount of time – I can imagine! So much free time! And free head 😉 but no, with blog (and IG) I would not do 2 months :)) now I try to implement one day a week off social media, or even internet – and feels good! you can always try small things – they work too! sure one day off blog will not kill it 🙂
      And yes, Banksy is the man, and I find his work fantastic. I have watched a documentary on him, and dig him even more now)).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cool, I love the idea of taking one day off a week to ease into that. I will have to try it. Sometimes I go crazy when the internet doesn’t work here because it limits me on what I want to do, but it’s okay to have that day off from electronics and to just take time for yourself. I agree 2 months off would probably kill my numbers, we have to admit, haha. And yes, its awesome to have these ways to keep in touch with people we have lost touch with over the years. It has it’s pros and cons we just have to know how to use it wisely.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree that it is our choice how to use things, that make them “good” or “bad” 🙂 We can always balance it out. Try the day off and share about it! that would be cool! I would miss my blog community in two months, really 🙂 I believe in the art of small steps!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I totally agree. Can’t just stop cold turkey, gotta take it one step at a time. Will come back with a progress report on my social “day off”. 😉

        Like

  5. What a thought provoking post. Social media has become like that big mole on face that you don’t really like but can’t hate it too or get rid of it because it’s just too difficult. People constantly flood it with mindless pictures, posts, status updates which don’t even make sense sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughts! I think, getting rid of it would be revolutional, it looks like SM came to stay 🙂 And I would not fight for getting rid of them, but a balanced use of it, with critical and relaxed attitude, would be my goal. Still, that sounds revolutional too 😉

      Like

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