Marolt: Like it or not, I am not a loyal Facebook friend
Almost everybody admits social media is a waste of time, yet almost everyone participates in it. A lot of people also complain about being too busy. We are a confused animal. I suppose it is the price of possessing the gift of rational thought. By comparison, my dog neither appears overly busy nor sad about the inability to connect with Facebook friends to validate how awesome his dinner was.
I am not a Facebook guy. I don’t understand the point of Snapchat, which seems to have replaced and lifted the social stigma of stealing glimpses of yourself reflecting off every car or store window you pass. I dabbled in Instagram until I got bored. If I couldn’t even entertain myself with it, as I often do with corny jokes and following recipes from memory, I don’t see the point. I quit cold turkey figuring I should not encourage people to lie by liking my posts.
A few well-intentioned wannabe virtual friends have tried to convince me of the commercial potential of social media. One moans and groans about having to continually post “relevant and quality” content for his side business, which is not NBC. By his own admission, “it is a time suck.” I’m pretty sure he has never made a nickel with his side business, otherwise he would own a car.
I think he’s addicted.
“You’re famous,” he encouraged me. “It’s just that nobody knows it.”
Absorbed with his defense, I don’t think he realized the obvious irony in that statement, at least he didn’t slow down long enough to act like it was intentional; not even a wink. I hope he posts it sometime, so somebody can comment on it. I would have done so myself in-person, but I didn’t think it would have the same impact as if it had come from a computer screen.
I’m not sure I understand why everyone seems concerned that honing our social skills on a smartphone is preventing us from learning how to interact in face-to-face situations. What’s the difference if everyone is doing it? Doesn’t that also mean that nobody is engaging in personal interaction? I see it kind of like cursive writing. There is no use in learning how to write that way when nobody is learning how to read it anymore.
Not engaging in social media and having no other viable reason to tinker with my phone other than checking the weather and what the stock market is doing only because I can leaves me admittedly feeling awkward in situations when I am waiting for something, like a bus or movie tickets.
There I am, just looking around. Sometimes I try to appear in deep, contemplative thought about something extremely difficult for an average human to comprehend, but that’s a real trick when all you are really doing is thinking about how someone might stand around doing that and trying to mimic what might not even be the correct way to do that. Who knows what that looks like unless you are trapped in a physics lab at MIT, in which case you probably don’t even notice because you actually are thinking of something complex.
There are a lot of studies coming out about addiction to social media and the bullying that appears related to that. When I was a teenager, at least the bullies spread the lies around the school in person and could embellish more if they read your facial expressions, indicating you were initially unimpressed. If they didn’t have the balls to do that, they would simply hang you by your underwear from a hook on the flagpole until they tore in half or stretched enough so that your feet touched the ground and you could perform a self-rescue.
I would rather get a hug from a real friend than a “like” from a virtual one, but I am not certain I would say the same thing of a fist bump or a pretentious “Hey, you!” from an acquaintance who can’t remember my name. I say this as a frequent user of fist bumps and “Hey you’s!” What this comparison indicates, I haven’t a clue.
All in all, the world is a mess. It also is my first choice of a place to live. There has always been stuff going on and the history books are mostly silent on the beautiful happenings that have always occurred and that outnumber the bad and atrocious things by about a zillion to one. If we pay attention, I think we might find that most of the dangers of social media are being espoused on social media.
Roger Marolt does not enjoy trying to match wits with his smartphone. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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