I’ll be the first to admit I am somewhat of a relic in my peer group – I don’t have a true footprint on social media. I’m not on IG/” The ‘Gram” (Instagram) or Twitter or Snapchat. No Reddit, Tumblr, or Blogger either. No Tinder, PlentyofFish, Match.com, eHarmony or any of the social dating apps. No Indiegogo, Kickstarter, or GoFundMe accounts. I recently started watching YouTube and even that’s most for tech and a very small list of things I’m interested in. If it wasn’t for this space, and 99 months’ worth of handwringing, I would not have been on Facebook either. For a while I was on Google + (mostly for tech chatter) and the most I do now is prattle on here and comment on a forum on a tech blog whose tech focus has shifted in a way I’m not fond of.
So why the fuddy-duddy approach to social media?
Well the answer is simple and slightly complicated. I did some of the ones I’ve mentioned at their very early stages – back in the days when it was only websites and the earliest versions of the apps were atrocious. Back in the days when I used to own an iPhone 3G and developers just started to pick up steam. No Snapchat then, we had Vine and other Snapchat precursors. Teens used Oovoo and other things I cannot remember to IM. I can remember the era when businesses and other social entities just started the branding of following them on social media. So, in part, I experienced all this stuff already – didn’t find that it was for me and dropped them all.
Has a lot changed since my early trial days? Sure. WordPress looks a whole lot different now from what I started out with where a lot more granular controls in how to make the blog look the way you wanted. Facebook wasn’t as convoluted as it is now in terms of the interface layout, but you had to dig harder to find certain things that is more in your face now. As many of the social apps come and gone, the longstanding ones such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have gotten so interwoven in our fabric that if you’re not using social media you’re as much of a relic as Americana items are in 2017.
Yet, the other reason I stopped using social media has a lot to do with human nature. Even back then, I could see the abuse potential for social media. Recent cases have shown this with suicides, illegal activity and violence being tweeted, or livestreamed. People have literally opened up and posted their entire lives online, and there are things I have seen that unfortunately I cannot un-see. Cyberbully, internet stalking are serious concerns. Mr. Trump on Twitter isn’t something I need to explain. It is easy for controversies to spin wildly out of control based on who followed or unfollowed whom, or how a keyboard warrior chooses to interpret the next tweet or post. With the presence of social media, the power to impact folks offline has been magnified – whether it’s for positive means or to destroy lives.
One thing is clear – the feedback from social media is instantaneous. For some people, that’s the most attractive and the most difficult aspect of social media to comprehend.
I suppose I went old school and threw up a middle finger at it all and simply unplugged. Perhaps I have done so for the simple reasons of not wanting to be burdened by some of the rules of social media. My perception has always been some decorum still applies; not everyone needs to know where you are at all times, what you are always doing, what your most private thoughts contain and you most intimate moments entail. But even though I may not use social media much does not mean I am oblivious to its ways or its impact.
It boils down to intent, as at the end of the day, social media is yet another tool we have available for use at our disposal.