Hey, remember when social media was about connecting with people?
Nowadays, it has morphed into a self-promoting platform for personal status updates and pictures of your most recent meal.
It really is a shame; social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great ways to stay in contact with people and share stories, funny links, or even just to say “Hello.” But, more often than not, we use these tools to let people know our opinions on the latest political news or to dig for compliments on our new Instagram-ed profile picture. This is the new “norm” for socializing and it’s more than a little disconcerting.
Now, I’m not saying that this is always a bad thing—I mean, the beauty of social media is expressing yourself and heck, I run a blog!—but when it’s used solely for the purpose of spewing out individualistic pictures and posts, it is easy to get caught up in the narcissism of it all. I am just as guilty as everyone else.
But let me just say, when your self-esteem is directly correlated to how many people like your Facebook status, you have a problem.
So, how can we reclaim social media as a channel for socializing?
I would start by setting official parameters for yourself and sticking to them. Don’t use vague time frames (“I promise to be on Twitter less”) but set specific limits (“I will only be on Twitter for 10 minutes a day”). Write them down, type them out, whatever—just promise me you’ll stick to them.
Second, remove social media apps from your phone. I know this is a difficult one. A couple months ago, I did this myself and it made a huge difference. During meals, I no longer fiddled with Facebook but (*gasp*) talked to the people around me. It also has cut my phone usage in half. Plus, it’s nice not to be incessantly connected to your social media accounts. Embrace the freedom!
Third, make changes to how you actually use social media. Next time you log into Facebook, instead of updating your status, search your friend list for someone you haven’t talked to in a while and write on their wall or comment on their profile picture. Alternatively, you can forbid yourself from posting your daily “meal photo” on Instagram and instead post a daily photo of a friend.
These changes may seem silly or insignificant, but they subtly shift the focus from me, me, me to furthering connections with others and cultivating relationships. And who knows, these small changes can ripple elsewhere in your life. I think we all can agree, myself included, that we could stand to be a little less self-centered. A life built on self-importance and vanity is doomed to, ultimately, be tragically isolated—even if we don’t realize it because we have hundreds of followers on Twitter. I’m not foolish enough to only place the blame on narcissistic social media, but it certainly is not helping matters.
Social media is an incredible tool for self-expression, but let’s not lose the “social” aspect.
Peace, love, and health,