How Social Is SOCIAL MEDIA?
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.