With the explosion of Social Media in the last couple of years, lead by Facebook‘s and Twitter‘s success, I’ve been hearing a lot of commotion from two opposing camps. On the one hand are people who don’t use social media. They are, by far, the majority (as Facebook has “only” 350 million users, and Twitter is still much-much smaller than that), but they are a quiet majority. The other, louder camp relies heavily on social media to pump a message of self importance. Most people writing in the blogosphere are early adopters, and as such tend to be ahead of the curve in adopting social media as well. There is no surprise, then, that the Internet is full of people calling anyone shunning from Facebook a Luddite.
“How can you say that social media is bad?” they ask the taxi driver who complains, that his son spends too much time in front of the computer and not enough time playing soccer with his friends. “He is playing with his friends. Honest. In fact,” they go on, “he has more friends now than ever.”
This is a big fat lie.
Talking To The Machine
What I found out is that when there is so much information, I have no time to engage in real conversation with real people. I comment on status messages, interacting with bits of information, not with people. It’s like a Turing test gone wrong, where I’m trying to separate human statuses from machine generated statuses.
One thing I can do is ask for help. A few weeks ago I needed an old computer, so I asked if anyone I’m connected to is going to throw away his or hers. Within a couple of weeks I’ve got me a brand-new old-but-respectable working computer. People ask for opinions about products. They ask for help finding a specific song. Social media is a great tool to dip into the knowledge of the many and find stuff where Google is completely broken.
This is useful, but it is not a replacement for the intimate connection you can only have with your best friends. This is you, using a service, to find information, interacting with information, and talking to the machine. If the Matrix ever existed, it would not have used people as a power source. It would have been an aggregate of human knowledge and computation. An intelligent being so complex, we couldn’t even comprehend its existence – the same way neurons in our brain don’t contemplate about our feeling of self.
Remember, there is no spoon.
Communication Is The Key
Communication is easier today, more than ever. This means couples keep in touch during the day. Children and parents know better what the other is doing. Close friends can stay closer. With the mobile phone, instant messaging, emails, Facebook and Twitter, I find it much easier to keep in touch with a select few. The advance of technology allows these few to be as far away from me physically as possible, it makes no differences.
But they are select, and they are few. At the end of the day, social media has not changed much in how we chose our friends. It only changed how we spend our time with them.
One Last Word Of Warning
A recent study discovered that watching television increases risks of heart attacks. This is no joke. The research discovered that:
Compared with those watching less than two hours of TV, people who sat in front of the box for more than four hours a day were 80% more likely to die for reasons linked to heart and artery disease.
Dunstan had this message for members of the public: “In addition to doing regular exercise, avoid sitting for prolonged periods and keep in mind to ‘move more, more often’. Too much sitting is bad for health.”
So, if you are a heavy user of social media, please, use it on the go from a mobile device. Don’t sit in front of the computer for the entire day.