This was first published as an assignment in college.
What does Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc have in common? Millions of users who want to connect with other people; mostly through a mobile device of some kind. On the surface, that’s a great thing. You can easily grab your phone and connect with a loved one you haven’t heard from in years. You can re-connect with a high school girlfriend or with a girl you wanted to be more than friends with in high school. That’s the beauty of social media through mobile; conveniently providing users with an assortment of possibilities/options but some are much more important than others. For example, the Arab Spring protests that got started in December of 2010 was scheduled, coordinated and broadcasted via social media by the various activists involved using various mobile devices taking pictures and “reporting” as the events were unfolding.
But for every Arab Spring-like situation there are countless other idiotic uses of social media. You have people using their mobile devices to post pointless cat videos on YouTube. You have people telling you what they had for breakfast on Twitter. You have people taking pictures of some of the most insignificant things (a pebble, a rubber band, etc), and you just have to add a color filter before posting it on Instagram. You have people desperately “collecting” friends on Facebook and other social media platforms due to their low self-esteem.
What is happening to us? Why are we making the piece of technology we walk around with and for some reason can’t live without turn us into narcissistic insecure losers? We have changed the definition of social for the worst. Social is now interacting with someone on a mobile device even if the person is sitting next to you. “FaceTime” is seeing the other person through a technological device…not in person.
As Hjorth’s article point out: “Although Koreans have, in the past, placed much trust in technological spaces such as the Internet as a site for reliable information and democratic communication, the online is still no substitute for offline sociality.”
In other words; social media, which I consider to be a very individualistic platform that masquerades as a collective platform, can be a very effective and worthwhile tool when used properly but it should never ever replace real world interactivity.