Back in 2008, I joined Facebook. It was a hoot at first because it was crazy to connect with all the old friends from grade school, high school, and college that I had lost touch with. But I had to admit, I didn't really understand it at first. If you are over the age of 30 or 35, you know what I mean. In fact, I still have some friends and family who not only refuse to get on Facebook, they don't even have a clue what I'm talking about when I use the terms "write on someone's wall" or "tag them in a photo." They just look at me with a blank stare and then I launch into a long, detailed explanation.
But I think they are the minority. Most people I know are not only on social media (mostly Facebook), but some of them are quite frankly addicted. Some of my friends on Facebook post about 10 times a day on average (obviously, not all of the). And for some of these people, most of the posts are either selfies or group selfies of them and their kids, spouse, or friends.
Sometimes I look at these people who are excessive-picture-takers-and-posters-on-social-media and think, "What ever happened to just simply enjoying the moment? Why do we feel the need to constantly document our lives for everyone to see?"
For example, many people constantly upload pictures and updates when they are on vacation. And I wonder if they are actually paying attention to and appreciating what they are experiencing. Or are they just lost in the social media posting? I mean, let's say you're visiting Stonehenge. I would be the person who would get lost in the awe of the moment and forget to take pictures - let alone put it on Facebook. But I think some people are so busy documenting on social media that maybe they miss the magic of the experience. Don't get mad at me for saying that. I'm not saying anything bad about people who do this, but I do think about this stuff a lot.
I even teach about this kind of stuff in my classes. I talk about the concept of social media's "status update," and I explain how it's inherently narcissistic. It's like saying "Look at me! Look at me!" Don't get me wrong - it's not like I've never posted an update. Quite to the contrary. But when I do, I try to make it motivational and have it add value to someone's lives. Somehow I just don't think anyone cares what I'm eating for dinner or when I'm going to the bathroom. But maybe I'm the weird one.
Regardless of what you post, I teach my students that everything you put on social media is constructing what is called your "online identity." Most people don't know how often companies stalk potential employee's social media profiles to see the "real person." And so if you have beer bong photos up from your spring break trip senior year of college, your employer is going to see it. Even if you have your security tight, many companies still know how to get around it (or at least that's what I've heard).
And it's not just an issue in people's personal lives. For example, the use of technology and social media is becoming a problem even with doctors in operating rooms. Apparently, that was a big problem with Joan Rivers' death. Allegedly, the doctors were taking photos of her during surgery and weren't paying enough attention. And as a result of that surgery, she somehow died. Was it because the doctors were being neglectful because they were more concerned about posting on social media? I'm not saying they posted on social media. Because no one really knows what happened that day except for them. But it does raise a lot of questions.
Here's another example. A week or so ago, I saw a story on the Today Show about the Miami-based plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Saulzhauer. He has become pretty famous lately. Why? Because he does Snapchat whenever he is in the operating room. Apparently, it's almost like he's on TV when he's operating. The viewers can see every bloody detail that happens. The Today Show was asking him some very real questions about the ethics of his choices. He defended himself by saying that being on Snap Chat is an option for his patients -- he doesn't force them. And he says most of them want to do it and think it's cool. Call me crazy, but if I was having surgery, the last thing I would want is for it to be blasted out to the whole world live via the internet. But hey, maybe I'm just old-fashioned.
I'm not here to bash anyone who likes to use social media frequently. But what I do want to point out here is that we should be conscious of what we do and why we do it. Not just on social media, but in life. So if you do find yourself posting a lot, why? What are you getting out of it? There are endless answers, and none of them are really wrong or bad. But I think we should all take a look at our behavior and see how it's affecting ourselves -- and others.