Thursday Thoughts on Social Media

Social media can be very tricky. Those of us that use it in its various forms want our ideas/thoughts/photos/rants to be read and sometimes there is the safety of anonymity. But what happens when everything becomes linked? Your Facebook friends are your Twitter followers and also read your blog, your grandmother is friends with you on Facebook and your friends’ parents are your “connections” on LinkedIn. You follow high school teachers on Pinterest and some kid you sat next to in Driver’s Ed follows you on Instagram. Thinking about things like this makes me realize how big the generation gap has become. When we try to explain Instagram to our parents: “Well… It’s like Twitter…but with pictures. Get it?” I’m fairly certain that my Mom thinks Pinterest is just my way of feeding my unrealistic imagination/expectations of what the future might hold.

I don’t know what it is about our generation that makes us want to share EVERYTHING we do or think with the world, whether it is some sick voyeuristic need to know what others are doing, or a desire for attention or whether it is an effort to connect to people in a world where everything has become so automated and  impersonal. It is strange to be someone who enjoys Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram–the mindless, time-consuming Internet black holes–and someone who also thoroughly enjoys the meaningless chats I have with the cashiers at the grocery store or at a boutique.

I think the danger in becoming engrossed in social media exists when electronic interaction takes over our need and desire for real, human interaction.There is also the danger in feeding the collective ego of a generation who already considers ourselves to be entitled and destined for success. Maybe it was our parents telling us to dream big or all those little league teams giving trophies to EVERYONE. Maybe it was the fact that Barbie could be a housewife, a doctor, AND an astronaut all a change of clothes and some ridiculous stiletto heels (what astronaut wears silver pumps??). Maybe it’s just that we grew up (until now) in a time of prosperity, so far removed from the Great Depression and the World Wars that we couldn’t help but be optimistic about our futures. I don’t pretend to have any of those answers.

Which, perhaps, is another reason we cling to the connections that we gain through social media, through the immediate gratification of information that exists right at our fingertips. If we don’t have the answer or even AN answer, maybe someone else will. Although based on the grammar and spelling contained in many of the Twitter/Pinterest/Facebook posts I see, I highly doubt it. People who lack the ability to use the correct forms of there/their/they’re cannot possibly have the answers to the deep existential questions our generation seems so determined to unravel. Maybe I’ll just Tweet some good song lyrics and Pin an inspiring quote. That’ll solve everything. Right?

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