Saturday, May 10, 2014
The addiction of Social Media
Best friends, I have a confession...I am addicted to facebook. I guess if you truly know me this will come as no shock. It is so much a part of my life that it's the first thing I check when I get up in the morning and the last thing I check before I go to sleep. My husband once bet me $100 that I could not go without the social media site for a week because that's how deep he saw my addiction. The promise of a $100 Lululemon shopping spree was enough to motivate me to win the bet but that was a tough week. I deleted the application on my phone and deactivated my account so there could be no temptation and channeled my energy into texting and calling friends instead. Remember when we use to call and talk to our friends and share our news? If something good or bad happened in our lives, our closest friends and family would know first because they would be at the top of our call list. Now everything, and I mean everything, hits facebook first BEFORE our eyes and ears.
The ability to reach a large audience with news in an instant is both a blessing and a curse. In my opinion it is ruining our lives and our relationships.
My sister sent me this blog story the other day that highlights the worst case scenario for instant news: http://keepcalmandhaveacosmo.blogspot.com/2014/03/racing-facebook-new-challenge-for.html The writer of the blog discusses how a woman named Theresa Jones found out via facebook that her husband Landon, a helicopter pilot, died in a crash on deployment. Before the Causality Assistance Call Officers could even reach her doorstep she discovered postings on facebook that tipped her off to the fact her husband had been involved in a crash and ultimately did not survive. Can you imagine the horror? Because friends were so eager to share information and offer their condolences they had posted links to information about the crash. They probably assumed if the information were readily available to them that this man's wife and family already knew as well. Social media has given us a way to tweet, blog and facebook post in real time about things that may have only happened seconds or minutes before. We have become accustomed to passing on information and sharing so much that we don't even stop to think if the information is ours to share.
When my baby was born I had a list of friends I wanted to share pictures and news with before posting anything on facebook. We had waited to find out the gender so I was especially eager to share the name and details. The day after Charlotte was born I decided I wanted to make an announcement on facebook and saw someone had posted on my site a congratulations for having a girl. I had not said anything about being in labor or having delivered my baby except to those I had called and texted so I was furious. Luckily I was able to delete the post before anyone saw so I could release the information myself. I know the congratulations was well intentioned but it was my news to share first and I didn't want anyone to steal my moment. This was precisely why I announced my pregnancy so early on because I didn't want the excitement of me announcing to be taken away by anyone else who knew.
I found out my very best friends baby was born on facebook before I even got a text from her because a mutual friend posted something about it first. From deaths to births, break-ups, engagements, wedding photos, surprise parties and even new romances...it seems nothing is immune from being shared via social media these days. My husband maintains that if one chooses to be a part of social media than the risk you are taking is that you will have something revealed to you or about you that you didn't authorize. While I agree to an extent, I also believe that if it isn't your news don't share it.
Repeat after me friends, "I will not share news that isn't mine to share." There. You've just saved yourself from the fall out of any and every relationship you deem valuable. When you see a friend with a sparkly new diamond ring on THAT finger in yoga class, don't go home and write on her facebook, "Congratulations!" when you see no one else has said anything. Perhaps she hasn't had time to call her aunt yet who just happens to be on facebook as well. Don't twitter about your best friend's desire for lime popsicles means she has to be pregnant if she hasn't told you herself. If you really want to congratulate someone or ask a question about the status of their life why not just call them? Or better yet, wait until they tell you themselves. When I was pregnant I really disliked friends early on asking if I was pregnant because I wasn't drinking or staying out late, etc. If I wanted to broadcast the news I would in my own time and it put me in an awkward spot to either lie or swear them to secrecy.
So my friends, how has social media ruined your lives or at the very least your day? Have you ever had an unflattering photo of yourself posted at a birthday party you didn't want anyone knowing you were attending? Did you tell your mom you couldn't come visit because you weren't feeling well only to have your friend "tag" you out at the brewery with them? While information sharing has its perks and can alert us to danger, highway conditions or work closures, it can also cause a lot of heartache and anxiety. So the next time you have the urge to share ask yourself, "Is this MY news to tell? Does it benefit anyone from hearing this from me as opposed to the source?" If not, let's follow the elementary school rules of keeping to ourselves.