Too. Much. Information.

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I’m worried about social media. About what it’s doing to us all.

It started this morning when I woke up and remembered a dream that I had last night about being on a beach in Thailand, talking with someone. That someone is a Facebook friend but not someone I see in real life very often – in fact, it’s probably been about a year since we last met (well, bumped into each other). Can I then classify him as a friend? Not really. But his part in my dream roused a sensation of familiarity, like I’d actually seen him. I know that’s what happens in dreams but I’m SURE that if I hadn’t read his Facebook update, he wouldn’t have wheedled his way into my subconscious mind.

This is just one example of social media infiltrating my real world.

Another is Twitter. Writing 140 character synopses for every day experiences, news and ideas is making people lazy and impatient; it’s affecting our collective concentration. We no longer want to read whole articles, so we skim. And this is, in part, due to receiving all these snippets of information but never fully engaging. This then translates from the cyber world to the real world by making us less patient in general. We want information and we want it NOW. If you take longer than an hour to email someone back they worry that you’re ignoring them.

Thirdly, I’m convinced that if I weren’t connected via social media to my close female friends, they (and I) would cancel dates less often. You see, pre-social media, and emails, and mobile phones, you’d arrange to meet a friend (say, 11am on a Saturday in a coffee shop) and you’d have to be at that place at that time because if they’d already left you couldn’t call their mobile to cancel or rearrange. So not turning up would mean leaving your pal waiting in a coffee shop, toute seule, wondering if you’d been run-over. Or just suddenly hated them.

These days, not only do you feel like you see your friends every half hour (on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc), which makes you feel less guilty for not meeting in the real world, but everyone’s so easy to contact all the time. It means that if you’re feeling a bit tired (read: lazy), ill or broke – you can just cancel your dinner plans. But you’re not actually spending quality time together when you communicate online, so it’s important to supersede this temptation and Actually. Meet. Up.

Lastly, I think that we’re over-stimulated online and this is having an adverse affect on our ability to socialise offline. Flicking through images and quotes and stories and updates and videos and gifs and memes makes us feel connected – but we’re not, really. And greedy. There’s so much available, we like to just have a quick taste and then spit it out and move on. It’s like social media is the party and we’re all that person constantly looking over our shoulder for someone more interesting to walk in.

The only solution would be to shun all social media sites. But none of us are going to do that. So I guess it’s just important to re-assess sometimes and remember that all priorities should lie in the real world and that slowing down, being more reliable and making more of an effort will be a lot more rewarding than flicking through 500 Tweets – or photos of someone you don’t even know on Facebook.

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