SOCIAL MEDIA: FRIEND OR FOE

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Submitted Date 12/23/2018
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Social media, most of us use it. Whether you're on theshaderoom on instagram, browsing the celebrity gossip, catching up on your favorite social media influencers on YouTube and their daily vlogs, watching your favorite social media viral sensation, whether Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, or you've just scrolled by your favorite "This is so me!" meme, *repost*, you've probably made social media a part of your life. We in this digital age seem to be always in the midst of what everyone in the world is doing. But, what about us? Is social media a friend to us, or a foe?

I remember spending 5 years on Twitter, back when YouTube was actually the place to be to connect with the world, when there was a real community with everyday people making vlogs, expressing their talents, video responses, comments, and all. I had started video editing as I came across this really cool fan-made Naruto video, a music video (what they call a AMV now). I thought it was really dope, and I wanted to do one myself. That turned into my hobby, my life at the time, of me putting together clips from my favorite artist to songs as if it were a real music video. This resulted in the production of what is called “fan-made” videos. Many individuals from each fanbase were doing the same, and caused us to all bond as an online video editing, digital creatives community. When that died out, I turned my love and attention to Twitter. Twitter is where I would tweet my life away, about my favorite artist, maybe some things that were going on in my life, and what I considered, bonding with like-minded individuals, some who shared the love for the same artist as me, and for some that just were overall similar in personality and hobbies/interest.

Then there's now, where we have so many social media platforms, breaking out so many stars. Most of us are constantly checking up on, what's up? Before you go to sleep at night, you're scrolling your Instagram newsfeed, *like*, *double tap*, *like*. You wake up in the morning, checking on what's everyone up to on Facebook, as you browse all the statuses on your news feed, sometimes even Facebook stalking. You want to know what such and such posted on their stories, but what about you? What about what's going on in your life?

We're constantly as a society on social media and looking at our #goals. We compare ourselves. We compare ourselves and make ourselves look so small, comparing ourselves to how ripped or snatched someone else's body is; comparing how much money someone else has, and how little we have in comparison; comparing how great it must be to take trips across the country and across the world; comparing how far someone else is in their career, in comparison to ours; comparing who has the perfect relationship; comparing who has a relationship in comparison to those of us who are single. It’s seems like a never-ending struggle.

We weren't always like that, were we? There's a book called "The Four Agreements" (Don Miguel Ruiz & Janet Mills, 2011), and it talks about how when we were kids, we were basically a blank slate, free to be ourselves, free to be happy. Then, we grew older and we learn(ed) about other people's opinions, and society's dreams, of who we "should" be rather than being who we are. We then accepted who society told us to be based off of their opinions of what's right and what's wrong. In reality, who we are is right because none of us are mistakes. We are exactly what God wanted us to be, ourselves.

You remember how free you were when you were a child, as you said whatever was on your mind? You probably told your mom that how bad that wig looked, unaware, as you questioned if she had a cat on her head, and you probably ran around in your favorite gear from your favorite cartoon, just wanting to eat the things that made you happy. Now, most of what made you happy to eat as a kid, were more than likely, purely sweets, and that’s obviously not healthy, but nonetheless, we were ourselves, and most importantly, happy as ourselves. Well social media for most of us can be that reflection that we will never mirror, and that makes us suddenly question, "maybe there is something wrong with me?”, “maybe I'm not that great."

A few months ago, I was hard at work for a passion project that unknown to myself, I had started the beginning steps of, years ago. It started out as a randomly as a photo for my love of a set of headphones I had bought, my new haircut, and just a just a representation of who I was and had evolved into. Then it turned into a drawing, and at that moment, I was turning it into a digital illustration. For a good week, I silently worked on the digital illustration using Adobe Photoshop with the help of a few YouTube tutorials. I posted it across all my social media platforms, including a caption explaining how hard I had worked on it, and how much proud I was of myself. 2 likes, no comments.??? But when there's a person being messy, or someone naked, it’s all the love in the world. Heck, even some of my selfies get more attention than that. I didn’t get it; I loved my creation. Couldn’t anyone see my love, hard work and talent? I always showed love to these people, I thought we were cool enough for them to show me love for what makes my heart jump and keeps me excited to wake up everyday. We’re friends, right? Internet friends... at least?

Shouldn’t all of our relationships be meaningful? So then, shouldn’t all the time we use on social media “connecting” with individuals, represent something meaningful? Like a friend? What is friendship? Isn't a friendship mutual, being there for someone through thick and thin? So ask yourself, is social media your friend? Is social media helping you achieve your goals? Personal goals of self-confidence. Professional goals? Creative new business ventures, generating income, increasing the successes of your current career.

 

I remember thinking I had built a good base of people to support my upcoming brand of what I had been doing on my Facebook page, uplifting the world with my perspective, quotes, etc. So, I decided to create a business page where my goal was (and still is) to aspire to be a motivational speaker. I remember creating a video (which I normally don't do), pouring out my heart to everyone on why I wanted to create the Facebook business page, and my near-future aspirations and what to expect from me. I even sent those 30 something individuals what my goals were in a private message. Most of them did like the page, but when I would post my inspirational words, barely any of them would share it. But why? They would share everything else across their social media platforms. It was just a share, it's free, it cost you nothing.

Fortunately despite these misfortunes, I was able to make a few real friends from my YouTube days. Though, only one stood the test of time to this current day. A friend that we talk about our dreams and aspiration; a friend whom I have their phone number; a friend that checks up on me to make sure I'm okay; a friend that is interested in my professional goals and will support me on my aspirations for entrepreneurship; a friend that is there when social media isn't; a friend that sees how passionate I am about something with my hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, who listens, congratulates and appreciates my creations; a friend that I don't have to ask because they're always there; a friend that if I do ask, they will answer.

TLC begs the questions, "Friends, how many of us have them?”, “What about your friends, will they stand their ground? Will they let you down again? What about your friends, are they gonna be lowdown? Will they ever be around?” So I really had to start re-evaluate myself, the people on social media, and my expectations. Are these people really my friends? Is social media really worth the investment? I know many individuals with thousands of followers. I mean, #teamfollowback , #followforafollow . These are some of those same people, that didn't like the people who they went to high school with, but when they would receive a friend request from said individuals, they'd accept and/or follow them back. Huh? Is that really your friend? Is this (real)ity for you? These same individuals make a personal post, about what's on their mind, things they like, something business oriented, and when I tell you less than 1 percent of their (follow)ing, I mean friends, would like and support their work (your post). I've seen these same individuals post about going through troubling times, or just generally asking for help with something. What did they get? Nothing. Where's the love? Where's the interaction? In real everyday life, do you sit and talk to your friends, and they don't respond? Your friends, theyjust like what you say, but have no open dialogue with you?

 

So ask yourself, is social media your friend, or is it your foe?

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