Social Media: Efficiency Tool or Necessary Evil?

Social Media.

It’s everywhere – our computers, our phones, our video game consoles.  We hear the phrase in television shows and commercials.  You see the logos in shop windows encouraging you to “Like us on Facebook!” or “Follow us on Twitter!”  Most of us DO, too.  Just trying to keep a finger on the pulse of the world around us, afraid of missing out on something.

How do YOU use your social media outlets?  Is it for business and marketing?  Do you strictly use Facebook and Twitter to connect with potential clients/customers?  Is it a platform for your political/religious views or just for keeping in touch with old schoolmates and family on the other side of the country?

No matter what your preferred use of the medium is, here are two sides to the Social Media coin:

  • On the one side, it is an amazing tool to save time and cover great distances to bond with people.  We are always on the move – to work, taking kids to activities, running errands.  Trying to coordinate a time to sit and catch up on the phone with Uncle Harry for half an hour can be a logistical nightmare.  But, through the magical world of technology, you have many options to find out what’s going on in his world.  For immediate questions such as “Will you be in town this weekend?” you can shoot him a quick text.  To fill Uncle Harry in on what the kids are up to and to ask a string of “How are you?” questions while they’re on the top of your head, an email message may work best.  Or, through Twitter and/or Facebook, you can just follow his daily check-ins and status updates and random tweets to know just what’s going on in his head.  You can coordinate a dinner or get-together with several family members at once, without the hassle of calling Joe to set a time that works for him, then calling Betsy to then be told that day doesn’t work for her so you have to call Joe again, and so on.  One series of group emails puts it all out there at once with no time-consuming back and forth.  Easy, efficient, connected.  It applies similarly to business dealings.  Several people from different offices working on a project together can be hard to manage.  Online chat or a group email or an event page where notes and ideas can be shared can be an efficient means to an end.
  • On the flip side, is THIS sentiment, overheard in conversation – “This social media sh** is ruining families and I’m done with it!”  Social media takes a lot of the face-to-face interaction out of communication.  How many of us text our kids, check our Facebook or Twitter accounts during dinner, forego the weekly phone call with an out-of-town sister/brother/father/mother/cousin in lieu of status updates?  We send emails to our friends and business associates, declaring that we HAVE to get together soon for lunch/drinks/dinner without actually solidifying plans and penciling them in for that elusive “someday”.  We feel we know what’s going on with our siblings and friends because we see what they post online when, in reality, we KNOW they aren’t really posting their REAL struggles and feelings.  Social Media puts up a barrier to actual human contact, turning our family into acquaintances who we don’t share our real lives with.  We lose that honest connection with a client by keeping a distance.  You know the name and maybe the face, but there’s no real relationship and, hence, no real reason for loyalty.

Personally, I can see both views.  I agree – to an extent – with all of it.  I am guilty of using my Social Media venues to stay on the sidelines of my sisters’ lives, being involved without actually being INVOLVED.   I also admit to loving the “party-line” convenience – in fact, Facebook was ESSENTIAL to the coordination of my 20-year High School Reunion!

I’m not saying one side or the other is right.  I’m certainly not condemning Social Media venues nor am I extolling their virtues.  But I AM curious about YOUR feelings on the matter.  So what is it: An amazing, time-saving tool to keep in touch with everyone at once?  Or a necessary evil that has pervaded every aspect of our lives, eroding the need for human contact?

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