I’m as guilty as everyone else. I use social media everyday. I’m on Facebook several times on most days, reading my timeline or posting some positive uplifting affirmation that speaks to me and, hopefully to others as well. On occasion, I post pictures of my family and friends and will get bored with my profile picture and change it every few weeks. Yes, I check my phone several times a day and almost go into panic mode if I leave the house without it. After all, what would I do if I couldn’t text or check Facebook while I was sitting in my doctor’s office waiting to be called? Read a magazine, you say? What’s that, I ask? Of course I’m being facetious – I STILL buy Essence and Jet Magazines, although I admit I skim through them now and read most of the articles online – simply because I’m on my computer ALL THE TIME. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Speaking of doctor’s offices – it’s true. I was recently sitting in my doctor’s very large waiting area waiting to be called back to that little room in the back where the temperature is always 10 degrees and they take your blood pressure and then smile and say the doctor will be in shortly – yeah, wishful thinking. Anyway, before that walk to the back, I sat in the outer waiting area and settled into my chair to wait. For whatever reason, I didn’t pull out my phone – mostly because I always hate trying to “hook up” to their internet connection. So I sat and I looked around. No lie, there had to be at least 50 patients in that waiting area waiting for different doctors and all, except myself and 5 other people, were looking down at their phones.
There was one man who was reading the newspaper! Yes, newspapers are STILL in publication and circulation and he was reading one. Two women were reading a book, one woman flipped through a magazine and then there was a man who, like myself, was doing absolutely nothing except looking around. Our eyes met and we nodded in acknowledgment of each other. I should have gotten up and sat next to him to talk, but I didn’t.
I was recently on the Marta train here in Atlanta headed downtown. I hate driving so whenever possible, I park my car at the Marta station and hop on the train into downtown Atlanta. I always try to get a window seat because I love looking out of the window like a kid. I’ve ridden the trains hundreds of times and seen the same view, but it’s still very peaceful and stress free – as long as no one is fighting or arguing on the train. I looked around at the other passengers in my car. They were all, with the exception of myself and maybe around 7 others, engaged with their telephones, ipads or had earphones in their ears listening to music. Fingers glided across screens and heads bobbed up and down and one man even sang out loud, badly I might add. As the train jerked back and forth, I looked at the overhead signs and noticed one in particular from MARTA. It said, If you see something, say something. It was a warning to passengers that we should report any suspicious activity to a MARTA employee or police officer.
I looked around and heard the words of my mother in my head. She and I were on a bus in NYC a while back when I was up for a visit and the same scenario was repeated there – everyone was engaged otherwise with some form of social media. My mother, being of another generation, sat next to me and said, “They want us to say something if we see something wrong. But I’d be the only one to see it because I’m the only one who isn’t looking down.” She was right and on that day as I rode the train, I knew exactly how she felt. The good news: If we saw something wrong, at least we’d be among the first to try to make a run for it.
As of this writing, I currently have 359 Facebook friends. There was a time when I was approaching 600. I have deleted many and, no doubt, many have deleted me, too. I have become acquainted with the “Unfollow” button and I’m thankful for that! I just couldn’t stand seeing one more post about what someone had for breakfast, lunch AND dinner EVERYDAY or that they’d gone to the doctor, had a tooth pulled or a root canal, bought groceries or that they just woke up from a nap, and, one of my favorites – a picture of them brushing their teeth. Stop it – just stop the madness please! If I see another Facebook “friend” laying in the emergency room or in their hospital bed hooked up to IV’s or a heart monitor, I think I was going to be sick myself. If you’re in the emergency room, EMERGENCY is the key word here. The last time I was in an ER, Jesus and the doctor were the only ones I wanted to talk with – but that’s just me! I never had the time or the inclination to post a “selfie” on Facebook during that time showing a close up of a bandaged IV catheter or unbandaged wound. That was just too much for me, so I exercised my Facebook right and either unfriended or unfollowed, either way, I’m now spared! If that’s being “social,” then I’m anti-social. And I’m not disheartened or hurt if I’m “unfriended” or “unfollowed.” Hey, my posts don’t interest everyone either – so hit that button! And we won’t even get into the ridiculous amount of “selfies” that scroll across my timeline on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day – many times from the same people! But to each his own – it’s their page and they can post whatever they want as often as they like. I just don’t have to be a part of it.
Just the other day, someone sent me a friend request. We had one mutual friend and I like and respect our mutual friend. So, after checking out his profile, I decided to accept his friend request. I wrote a short note on his wall simply saying “Thanks for the friend request.” It was only after 3 days that I realized that I’d never gotten a response from him. I only remembered him when his posts started showing up on my timeline. I went back to his wall to see if he’d responded to me and he’d actually DELETED what I wrote! So, it was obvious that he only wanted to “friend” me to rummage through my pictures. Well I hope he got a good look because I’ve “unfriened” him. I don’t mind anyone looking through my pictures – if I’ve put them on Facebook, then it’s public. But at least have a little class about yourself and say “hello.”
I tried to Tweet or is it Twitter – I don’t know, but I tried it. I even had a very tech savvy young friend give me a crash course on it back in February. Yes, I got all set up and I sent out one tweet or twitter and that was it. When I realized that tweeting would require me being on line more than I already am, I knew it wasn’t going to work for me. And if I see one more hashtag, I’m going to scream! Hashtags used to be called pound signs, back in the old days – before social media. I don’t have a Pinterest account or an Instagram account and I’m not Linked in anymore.
Like most of you reading this post, I enjoy social media for the most part – but for me, on a limited basis. I have had some great laughs and met some really cool people online who I hope to meet one day – some I already have. Trust me though, there are only a handful because out of the 359 “friends” online, I can’t even remember how we got to be connected on FB and we’ll probably never meet. I’m ok with that. I’ve known my real friends long before social media came on the scene and a couple of them either don’t have a Facebook account or never use it – and we’re STILL friends. Social media allows me to blog and share it with all of you and I have learned a lot of things about a lot of things. I usually hear about a passing of a celebrity or entertainer on Facebook even before I hear it on the nightly news and I’ve gotten some great recipes, health tips, insights and even ideas for my blog. I’ve viewed pictures of friends and family and their kids and watched them grow through pictures that they’ve shared and I’ve reconnected with old friends whom I share wonderful memories with. I’ve written some great articles on some cool people for a terrific magazine online. And most importantly, I’ve met some amazing people on Facebook – you know who you are! So, to answer the question: Is social media our new normal? Yes, of course it is and I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. It’s relevant and necessary and almost impossible to avoid – and it can be an incredibly useful and connective tool. I could go on and on about the pros and cons of social media, but I won’t. Everyone has their own opinion about it, and this is mine. So in the meantime, I’ll continue to check in on Facebook and check out my timeline, even though it’s a lot quieter now. However, I’m making a conscious effort to resist whipping my phone out when I’m on the train or in a waiting area next time. Sure, I’ve got a new Android with all the bells and whistles with 4G fast connection and it’s sometimes a little too smart for me. But the next time I get a chance to make eye contact with another human being or strike up a conversation in person with someone, I’m going to take it – how about you? I’m going to shut down my computer more often and blow the dust off some books I’ve been meaning to read and what I have for dinner will remain my business.
Check out this video that I saw today on my timeline. It inspired me to write this post today. I couldn’t agree with the video more and it gave me pause to think. I hope it does for you, as well. It’s true – we’re connected to “things” and disconnected from each other. Now I’m going to update my Facebook status and post this article – happy scrolling!