Dear SBO (small business owner),
Okay actually, it’s a love hate relationship. How can you not love the immediacy of social media? The instant gratification felt when you vibe with someone else’s post or the overwhelming sense of accomplishment felt when a celebrity likes your comment or DM’s you.
Not to mention the fact that we have an efficient and convenient way to keep up with friends or family members near and far. Yes, we can call them but somehow viewing their man crush Monday posts and IG stories make us feel that much closer, that much more involved in their day-to-day lives. I love the sense of togetherness gleaned from social media. We as a human race tend to do that – aid each other in our times of need. Hashtags become full-on movements, projects and battle cries when we stand in the name of justice, peace, equality and human decency.
In my opinion, all this good derived from social media is clouded by the mind-meltingly dumb overuse of social media’s functions. Swipe left, comment, bots, non-industry and non-business “influencers” (…….just to influence us to do whhaaaattttttt exactly????), click here, like this, friend requests, DM’s, tags and hashtags. *Deep sigh* I absolutely without a doubt hate this part of social media because we’ve become extremely dependent and reliant on it. I know - I am a business strategist I am supposed to understand the effects social media has on businesses and its importance in terms of customer acquisition, product/service marketing, data metrics, user insight, analytics etc. After all, marketing will NEVER be the same. Social media is a growing conglomerate with no signs of slowing down. If you’re a business and you’re not social you don’t exist. I fully understand the power of social media but that doesn’t mean I have to like it as a communication medium – and I flat out love/hate it.
Two-thirds of U.S. adults report that they are social media users, and about three-quarters of those users consume content, images and video on social media platforms on a daily basis. One can assume that two-thirds of our country consists of followers. Case in point: the infamous egg picture on Instagram. It was a simple picture of an egg with an all white background and a caption that read, “Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this!”. And just like that, in a little over a week the egg had over 50 million likes. Talk about banning together for a common goal…
It’s a very awe-ensuing and sobering feeling to know that the fabric of our society has changed before my eyes. Yes, we are more accessible but was inaccessibility such a pressing matter? Were our lives that empty? Uninspiring to the point of permanent social change?
Here are three ways that social media lends itself to the change:
1. No one reads anymore. No one has patience. No one likes things to be hard.
Although social media is not the originator of this fact and lazy character traits, it does co-sign and exacerbate them. Almost half of adult Americans forget one basic piece of information or lose one every day item per week and the human attention span has decreased by 45% over the last 15 years. Instead of creating social media platforms that look to increase attention spans, these platforms are currently designed to conform to them. One minute videos, content post limits, and double tapping pictures (not having to look at the content). All of these concessions can arguably be considered customer-centered product enhancements as they enhance the customers user experience. But big picture, at what cost?
2. It’s too accessible, thus addictive
We literally wake up in the morning, get dressed, eat breakfast and go to work (at home or office) with a computer in our pockets or purses. We are living in the age of the Jetsons only flying cars aren’t yet mainstream. Full disclosure: I wake up, roll over and check my emails – FIRST THING IN THE MORNING! We all do it. We look at all our notifications, how many likes we’ve received, who watched our IG story, blah, blah, blah. On average, we pick up our phones more than 1,500 times per week which takes up an average of 3 hours and 6 minutes a day. When was the last time you stood in line at a grocery store, amusement park or the DMV (because we all know those lines are ungodly long) and whipped out a book? Or actually read a book, blog post or news article on your phone while in line? It has nothing to do with you being a bad person, dumb or anything of that nature but it has everything to do with the conditioning and conformity to society at large. And let me be clear – WE ALL DO IT!
3. False representation of self and lives
Remember when selfies were actual selfies? When you held the phone, smiled and pressed the button to take your picture? Nothing had to be staged in the background ever-so neatly. We didn’t care about the background color coordination, taking a million selfies to get that perfect one. Now we do because we have to, seemingly. All on the fly selfies look like paid photographers took them. We are now photographing and videoing almost every move we make with a Colgate smile, it is easy to project perfection when in reality your world is falling apart. Or maybe it isn’t falling apart but you’re not having a great day (because you are in fact –HUMAN). We keep up these personas for the ‘gram, likes, and our ‘fan-base’. What about being a fan of yourself, your peace, and what the heck you need? Being transparent and open helps others as much as it will help you.
At the end of the day, I liken social media use to the consumption of sugar. One can consume sugar and there is absolutely nothing immoral, indecent or wrong with consuming it. Sugar tastes great, satisfies a desire, and invokes a feeling of comfort and pleasure. But consider the words of Oscar Wilde, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. Just as consuming too much sugar daily can be harmful to your physical body, so excess social media consumption can be harmful to your thought patterns, lively hood and physical social engagement. Exercise restraint. Enjoy social media thoughtfully, sensibly and be true to yourself.