This week in class we are discussing social media, often referred to as the “new media”. People long ago got their news from the newspaper as they sat down every morning to enjoy breakfast or on the bus during their daily commute. Now the news is all around us. Not just is this news floating around us I would argue that it is aggressively infiltrating our lives whether we want it or not.
My life has been a constant use and abuse of social media, I use it and it abuses me. I never wanted my life to rely so heavily on looking at a screen for hours on end. Starting in elementary school we had “computer class”, this class covered how to navigate a computer, how to type (the way that no one actually types), and occasionally being able to play on things like Kid Pix (the toddler version of Photoshop).
As I grew older computers and technology became even more commonplace. Papers and assignments had to be typed and sources had to be obtained through online databases. I would of course also utilize the AOL Teen Chat Rooms around this age to make friends and discuss Hilary Duff.
In high school and college I feel that you need a computer to survive academically. Without one it would be difficult to complete assignments (of course needing a computer does not mean owning one. Many institutions offer computer labs). So now you have this computer that you are constantly plugged into for school. You’re finishing your assignments and feeling great about that…but really, who does not procrastinate? This is where social media comes in.
Social media runs my life because I allow it to distract me. I allow my friends from all over the world to keep me from writing my paper due in 12 hours because they just went on the worst date of their life, I have infinite photos of cats to scroll through, I can pick up my phone and scroll through even more cat photos on Instagram, I can use my phone to take photos of my own cats and Snapchat them to my friends. Sadly, I’m doing all of these things.
My life is not always ruled my social media. I spend three months every summer leading backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail and making art in the middle of the woods with amazing 9-14 year olds. I get a few days off throughout the summer and check my email / Facebook a couple of times during those periods of freedom. Besides that I’m not that connected. I live for these summers.
I guess what I’m trying to say is social media can be great. It can be an immense networking tool for kids, students, parents, teachers, professionals, athletes, you name it. It’s amazing to be able to Skype or Facetime with a friend who is far away and really catch up. The problem that I have with social media is that it is so embedded within our use of technology for productive purposes. It’s impossible for me to focus on one thing for too long, while writing this blog post I’ve chatted with my friend who is celebrating his birthday in Los Angeles (I miss him a lot and I only get to see him during those unconnected summers so the ability to stay in contact via social media is overwhelming and wonderful), reblogged a few nature photos on Tumblr (the irony), Tweeted a few sarcastic statements in under 140 characters regarding my current emotional state (it is 4:30am after all), and scrolled through Gmail trying to locate some information relevant to my independent study meeting tomorrow. In a world where we have such sort attention spans that films have to be edited into shorter scenes so that we don’t get bored, where we have 20 tabs open to try and finally say something poetic, where we get distracted more than anything else: social media serves as an outlet. We have an ease of access, if you are already writing a paper why not use the internet browser to check up on your friends, that will only take you 10 minutes? This 10 minutes repeated many many times is what gets me into trouble. I don’t even want to tell you how long this blog post (which is a homework assignment) has taken me due to multi-tasking…
I will leave you with one very scary link. This calculator, created by Time: Tech uses the timestamps on your posts and an approximate amount of time that you provide to help determine how much time you have wasted on Facebook. The results are alarming. http://techland.time.com/2014/01/27/how-much-time-have-you-wasted-on-facebook/