The Irony and Failure of Social Media

I spend a fair amount of time utilizing social media, between Facebook and Twitter (and Reddit, if you want to include that). In general, I think it’s pretty darn neat. I very much enjoy connecting with friends, seeing interesting things folks have to share, having somewhere for my thought vomit to stick, and in particular with Twitter and Reddit, communicating with people that I’d otherwise probably never meet or talk to. In using these platforms, I’ve had some things on my mind about them that stick out as really ironic and to me, personally, seem like failures in how we utilize social media. On top of that, there are a number of things that are just plain curiosities to me that I want to be out there for people to possibly think about and explain to me. I do understand that everyone is trying to get something somewhat different out of their social media experience, so keep in mind this is my own opinion. Also, this is probably way too many words for how much it actually matters, but once I get to thinking about something I like to examine it thoroughly. And considering how big of a deal social media is in our current culture, there are obviously plenty of people that spend a lot of time thinking about it in some context.

A warning: this is probably going to come off as somewhat bitchy and whiny. I assure you, it is not my intention to use this purely as a place to complain, but there are some definite frustrations that will seep through. I apologize in advance if you’re annoyed by that kind of thing.

While going through my year-end recap so graciously provided by Facebook, as well as some of my Twitter history, there is an undeniable pattern that comes through. Pretty much across the board, the things that I spend the most time, energy, and emotion expressing to my interweb friends are the ones that are the most universally ignored. There are a lot of times that I will write something, then stare, ponder, and edit the hell out of it for 20 or 30 minutes while I contemplate whether I want to share something so personal. It’s always a weird feeling voluntarily making yourself vulnerable in that respect. It used to be that I’d just say “fuck it,” throw it out to the internet, and then these types of things would unilaterally be disregarded and nobody cared. Now that I’ve gotten accustomed to the fact that nobody cares, I’ll go through that same process, but I would guess only 30-40% of the time I actually end up posting them (probably shocking to my Twitter followers who likely assume I have zero filter).  Even though I now filter out to only the things I consider the most important to my current state of mind, feelings, etc., they still get unilaterally disregarded and nobody cares. I am well aware there is such a thing as uncomfortable over-sharing that just gets awkward, but I don’t personally think I’ve crossed that line, or at least not frequently. For those of you who are curious what type of stuff I’m referring to, think of any time you’ve seen me post music, or something about art, or really anything that’s not obviously supposed to be funny.

On the other hand, there are a lot of things I post that people do apparently pay attention to. It’s just very strange to me because they always happen to be the things that I spend all of 20-30 seconds on and are totally disposable and throw-away types of posts. A random (sort of) witty comment that I pop into my phone while I’m doing something else, or an unspectacular picture I snap, or something I nabbed off of Imgur/Reddit and slapped a caption on are by far what gets the most likes/favorites/retweets. Once I had realized this pattern awhile back, I started paying attention to other peoples’ posts in this light, and the same thing holds true pretty well across the board, not just for me.

Ok, so what’s the point? Who cares? Why does it matter? Various other questions, etc., etc., etc. Well, I guess I just find it a little backwards that if we’re trying to actually express ourselves and show who we are as people, that we should disregard the things that are most relevant to that. I find it especially so with Facebook, since these are people we generally know in real life and are supposed to be “friends.” If we really want to “keep up” with someone and actually give a shit, shouldn’t it be more important to know their state of mind, feelings, and life interests than seeing what article they happen to reading at the moment or what their hot take is on the current happenings in sports or whatever the hell else? By no means am I saying there isn’t value in that. I like getting laughs from my social feeds and I’m glad when I can make anyone else chuckle. It also can be nice to just quickly relate to someone on a simple topic; that’s basic socialization, whether it’s online or not. But I don’t feel like knowing what Buzzfeed article someone finds amusing, or who they think should be starting at QB for the Vikings, or how annoyed they are by the weather really gives any indication of who that person really is. I kind of shudder to think what anyone’s perception of me would be based solely on my internet presence. If you don’t know me personally and follow me on Twitter (or for some reason were my Facebook friend and didn’t know me personally), I can virtually guarantee your picture of me is far, far different than the truth. Additionally, I can virtually guarantee that statement is mutual if I don’t know you in real life.

There is some more irony in the fact that this will very likely fall into that same abyss of people not giving a shit cause it didn’t give them the giggles. I think I wanted my thoughts to be solidified somewhere outside of my head just in case, though. On top of that, I do also wonder what anyone else has to say about the topic. Maybe I’m totally off-base, maybe I’m missing something important… enlighten me if you agree or disagree in any way, please.