Social Media: Beauty or Beast? Part 2

As I wrote yesterday, the internet’s social medias can be a beautiful thing, connecting us to those we care about even if they are miles away.  But the internet’s social medias can also be a beast. They can cause a burden of responsibility, a lack of privacy, distractibility, hollowness, and discontentment.

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The internet’s social media requires discretion and responsibility. I can easily learn more about a person’s life with the click of a button than they would tell me or ever want me to know. It is easy to post too much information and put yourself at risk of fraud or any other forms of deception. I too have fallen prey to careless actions posting pictures or words I shouldn’t which give away too much personal information. If you are not careful, the internet’s social medias can box you into a glass house without any personal privacy.

Social media can also be a great distraction causing people’s actions to not match what they say they value. Too often I have watched families out at dinner who sit in silence. Restaurants are full of children on iphones or ipads watching youtube or playing angry birds, parents responding to new message from facebook or work emails. All more important, urgent, interesting, or enjoyable than time with each other-or even their food!

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I too am guilty of this distractibility, which can easily turn from a bad habit into an obsession. There is constant wondering: what is going on in other people’s worlds? or my own? I am always checking to see if someone new has read my blog, if I have a new email, if an employer found me on Linkedin, if someone liked a new pin on Pintrest, if  . . .

But for all of this connection to the world,  the internet has it’s limits. It cannot give you a hug, it cannot enjoy a cup of coffee or share a piece of pie with you, or laugh with you at something ridiculous you just saw. Yes, it does connect me to those I care about, but it is a poor substitute for face-to-face interaction.  It does not replace my desire to make a good meal, take a hike, play a board game, or sing with my family or with new friends. The likes or comments I get on facebook , repins on pintrest, the positive feedback on my blog, rings hollow in comparison to the opportunity to spend a day with a good friend or with my family.

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I also confess social medias like facebook, pintrest, recipe websites, blogs; they feed my perfectionism and often make me feel discontent with the status quo or with myself. I go into overdrive with ideas and with these come expectations to be even more inventive. Next thing I know I have joined the rat-race to be noticed. I begin to wonder-why didn’t I think of that?! I start to look at the world around me as opportunities to prove I have something to sayhave something to show: See: I am a good baker, cook, housewife etc.

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Websites like pintrest or Etsy are a blessing but also a curse for someone like me who can easily create expectations (and unrealistic ones at that). I see pristine kitchens, perfect outfits, organized drawers, homemade  crafts and I see my: perpetually dirty kitchen, cluttered house, outdated clothes, and half-done crafts. I judge  (as so many females do) my life to other females. (Oh yes that judgement-free topic again). But this time it is to other females online.  The problem is I am not comparing myself to the rich and famous. Instead I tell myself: these are ordinary people-just like me-if they can do it-why am I not?

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But the truth is: these are idea boards. Many of the pictures linked to websites: Martha Stewart or Better Homes and Gardens. It is the extreme version of clipping pieces of magazines to create wish books for future homes or weddings. It can become a modern and just as obsessive version of Monica’s wedding book on Friends! Half these people, whether the venue is facebook, pintrest, or twitter are not posting their own ideas but those of others that they feel compelled to try. Is this a beautiful way to share ideas or a beastly pile of expectations and comparisons?

Social Media is a beautiful tool we can use to our advantage to stay connected to those we care about. But if we allow it, it can take advantage of us , prevent us from face-to-face relationships, hold us captive to unrealistic expectations of ourselves, connecting us to the wrong people and/or making us worry about what those people think of our lives.

I for one am going to choose to make internet social media a beautiful but limited tool and discipline myself to not allow it to anymore be a beast which controls me or my thoughts.

What about you?

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