How So­cial Is SO­CIAL ME­DIA?

The Star (St. Lucia) - Life Begins 2 Nite - - FRONT PAGE - By Sadie Love

Where I come from, it takes just two hours to see all there is to see. Yes, in that time you can clock around the rock. For­tu­nately, along the way there are count­less dis­cov­er­ies to be made, many cap­ti­vat­ing, one or two ab­so­lutely nau­se­at­ing, that you can never be sure in ad­vance how long an in­ter­rupted tour might last. Of course, na­tive that I am, I was sure I’d met ev­ery­one in Saint Lu­cia worth meet­ing. Ei­ther you’ve met the good, the bad and the ugly—or you’d heard of them (how­ever fake-news the in­for­ma­tion!)

Imag­ine the feel­ing when by chance I en­coun­tered a Looshan, a friend of a friend of a friend, as it turned out, while va­ca­tion­ing in Canada sev­eral weeks ago. We hit it off al­most im­me­di­ately. The oc­ca­sion was a pool party in a posh Toronto area and what re­ally brought us to­gether was the damn cold. She saw how un­com­fort­able I was be­fore we were halfway through the night and re­mem­bered the thick sweater she al­ways car­ried around, just in case. I’d never been more grate­ful. That was the night I learned never to trust a weather fore­cast. Hey, it was late sum­mer!

We later con­nected on Instagram, de­spite her reser­va­tions. It seemed to her that the peo­ple who used it were for the most part seek­ing val­i­da­tion. It en­cour­aged in­se­cu­rity and de­pen­dence. Her per­spec­tive didn’t sur­prise me. I’d of­ten thought like­wise. But I’d long set aside such con­sid­er­a­tions, with good rea­son: jobs, con­nec­tion with far­away friends, other things pro­fes­sional eas­ily out­weighed the neg­a­tives of so­cial me­dia.

Nev­er­the­less, my new friend’s per­cep­tion of Instagram set me re­think­ing. Was I, like other reg­u­lar so­cial me­dia users, re­ally seek­ing re­as­sur­ance and sub­stan­ti­a­tion from peo­ple who con­trib­uted lit­tle to my life, other than idle gos­sip and un­sub­stan­ti­ated in­for­ma­tion? Was I se­cretly thrilled that hun­dreds of peo­ple I had never met “liked” me? Had I per­mit­ted my­self to be sucked into be­liev­ing in a re­al­ity that ex­isted only on so­cial me­dia?

My friend and I spent many an hour dis­cussing our col­lec­tive ob­ses­sion with so­cial me­dia. How use­ful to us were up­dates on mat­ters that never ac­tu­ally hap­pened, fil­ters and the apps that are the drugs of choice for so many? Would we per­mit our­selves to be­come so ad­dicted to temp­ta­tions of so­cial me­dia that when

we spoke of friends we re­ferred only to the vir­tual va­ri­ety?

As I say I didn’t blame my ac­quain­tance for her reser­va­tions. It oc­curred to me that my so­cial me­dia pages re­flected my his­tory; where I’ve been; where I am; and where I hoped to go—my life. In­dis­putably, so­cial me­dia is here to stay. And I sup­pose how you use it is what truly mat­ters ul­ti­mately. I con­tinue to use it for strictly pro­fes­sional pur­poses and for shar­ing with oth­ers my own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences. That’s what writ­ers do, any­way, whether via fic­tion or non-fic­tion.

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