Our generation has been called, among other titles, “the social media generation.” It’s hard to dispute this label, because most of us spent a good deal of time with accounts on social networking sites in our formative teenage years. However, the social media landscape seems to have shifted, and here’s what I think about the three dominant social networks right now.
Maybe it’s just me projecting my own hopes, but I feel that as we grow up, we start to realize that it’s not beneficial to spend so much time crafting a purposefully modified version of ourselves. We realize it’s equally detrimental to form a perception of others based on their online profiles, rather than their real-life personalities. To Mark Zuckerberg and the vast majority of college students who use Facebook, I hope this doesn’t offend. I’m currently off Facebook, but I’ll admit I haven’t deleted my profile, just deactivated it. I guess that makes me a hypocrite! And don’t get me wrong, I think Facebook can be a great medium for keeping in touch with friends, planning events, advertising, etc. However, on the person-to-person level, I do feel like Facebook has become a social network dominated by proclaimed achievements, one that makes it too easy for users (myself included) to sit and criticize people they knew years ago in high school. Wow, that rant made me feel old.
I have mixed feelings about Twitter. I personally don’t tweet very often- maybe once a week, and usually that is a retweet of something I found important and funny. I actually prefer to use it to follow interesting people, entertainers, news sources, etc. It’s a great forum for, say, the rapper Macklemore to post information about his new music videos, concert tickets, appearances, and more.
However, Twitter makes it easy to post thoughts instantly, which has the ability to offend people or make the tweeters themselves look thoughtless. Also, while Twitter is a useful way to inform the public about stories as information becomes available, I do think it has increased the media’s tendency to report on stories before they even have the basic facts, out of an urge to be the first to “break the story.” This really damages their credibility.
My inspiration for this post came from a conversation with a friend. He’s just a year older than me, and we were discussing how people our age generally still have Facebook profiles, but don’t use them nearly as much as they used to. Then he told me that of the freshman high school boys he leads in a church group, just 2 of 15 have a Facebook profile at all – their preferred social network is instead Instagram. I found this really interesting, especially since I just set up my own Instagram account a few months ago. I personally prefer this social media site to all others because it is simpler and less cluttered with advertisements, and visually it’s more appealing to look at photographs (many enhanced with the infamous filters) than photographs amidst tons of text. Of course, there’s the fact that hardly anyone posts a photo depicting something awful that happened to them that day or the particularly unappetizing meal they had for dinner. In my opinion, social media will always lack authenticity, but then there are posts like these that make you realize its ability to portray almost any aspect of the human experience: