This is a good old fashioned pop culture post a la my old blog “Watching Pop Culture With My Parents.” Both with the blogs I started and my need to change the way I communicated with people because of my TBI hearing complications, I’ve been using social media a lot more in recent years. My question for this little pop culture think piece is: How do you maintain balance between your social life In Real Life (IRL) and your social media life?
I ask the question because I’m pondering it myself. Recently I spent some time with a bunch of pre-teens and teenagers. And each of them had a smartphone that they were glued to. We were in a picturesque setting with a lot of nature and beauty around and it didn’t seem to matter. Those phones were omnipresent. As a newly forty-year-old old fart, I was a little dismayed to see this. Especially when I was reviewing pictures I had taken and I was marveling at the cool glow from the campfire on one of the teen’s faces only to realize it wasn’t the campfire that made her face glow. It was the glow of her smartphone that she was looking at while roasting a marshmallow at the campfire (good multitasking)!
I’m not just criticizing people younger than myself. I’m actually critical of myself on this point as well. I tried to get my usage down of my iPhone by using the “Screen Time” feature and I got myself down to three hours a day but that still seemed astronomical. I decided to stop using “Screen Time” during Camp NaNoWriMo since I use both my iPhone and iPad to write on (since my TBI complications make typing on my laptop a slow prospect). However, after Camp NaNoWriMo is done I plan to be strict with my usage of electronics.
The thing with social media is while it can be enjoyable it can also be a massive time waster (I know, I’m just Captain Obvious 👩🏻✈️ over here).
To trace how I’ve ramped up electronics usage I decided to track my social media usage. I’ve been using Twitter since 2008 but only recently started to use it more. I joined Facebook around the same time (circa 2008) and Instagram came much later. I joined Snapchat a few years ago but I’m not very active on it and I mainly use it to check out the cute filters they put on especially for holidays (recently for the 4th of July I used the bear with American flag ears filter). However, since my accident I’ve noticed that social media (particularly Facebook in my case) has been a good way for me to keep those interested (both my friends and my parent’s friends) abreast of my recovery and progress. What that means is I post more and therefore am on my phone more writing blogs and various other content. However, I’ve decided that in my case my social media life has become a form of my IRL “life.”
Is that what is happening? Is social media and technology replacing real social interaction? This article points to “10 Signs Social Media Has Replaced Your Real Life Relationships.” I’m happy to say I don’t exhibit any of these signs. Whew!
And according to this article by ScienceDaily that references a study done by the University of Missouri- Columbia, social media is much like the technology that’s come before it (radio, television, telephones, etc.) where people worry about the long term affect it will have on society and face-to-face interactions yet the science proves there is little to no change. I think there is an antisocial aspect to social media (ironic) yet it also helps introverts like me be more social. I’m more willing to try new restaurants and new shops if I’ve read about them on social media. A number of years ago I vacationed in New Orleans with my Mom and used Yelp to eat our way through the city. I still use Google and Yelp in that way.
I suppose to answer my own question I posed at the beginning of this post: You balance social media with your IRL social life by using it to enhance your social life. I am using it to enhance my communication with people I know and also using it to build a network of fellow writers. I still interact with people face-to-face but social media allows me to have extra communication.
And I suppose the question is, how is social media and technology shaping the lives of the teens and pre-teens I spent time with around the camp fire (and their peers)? That’s a question I don’t quite have the energy to research tonight. I have a feeling someone has written plenty of material on the subject.
Camp NaNoWriMo: I’ve been updating on Twitter (speaking of social media) but I thought I’d update here too. I’m at about 25% of my goal = 16,916/50,000. I’m pleased with my progress and very happy with a lot of what I’m writing. The rougher parts will get smoothed out when I edit!