A Quiet World with a Lot of Buzzing

Post #1, Course COM0011 Introduction to Social Media

It is a common scene—a group of friends sitting around a table, all heads bent down, their eyes fixed on the mobile devices in their hands, their fingers busy tapping and scrolling the screen.  It is a quiet world, with a lot of buzzing behind it.

As a new citizen to this world of social media, I can’t imagine myself totally immersed in the rapidly evolving technologies, either incapable of, or unwilling to. I have seen some meaningless, time-wasting back-and-forth online chit-chat on Facebook.  Sometimes I wonder why some narcissists like to expose so much of their lives to the whole world while we value so much our privacy. Some people post video on YouTube that don’t benefit any friendly networking but pose harm to the society, such as an instruction on how to make a bomb.

I don’t want to be like that social media person described in pastoryoder’s blog post “Social Media is Killing Your Social Life”. Some people’s world is the social media, almost nothing else. Even their family has to communicate with them only through social networks if they want to be heard.  I have heard that some are so addicted that they have virtual spouses instead of meeting real people for real relationship.

I am not anti-social media. It is here to stay in our personal and professional lives, even though some social problems are blamed on the misuse or overuse of social networking. I just hope that people use it wisely.

New technologies are supposed to help to ease and speed up our tasks, but they develop and evolve so fast that people are always trying to catch up. However, the constant flow of information is very valuable in making personal and professional decisions.  As described in a typical day of a busy marketer at a shoe company in the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research, a person’s work day is “immersed in the groundswell”. (According to this book, groundswell is defined as a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.) Besides having to be speed readers, we also need to use appropriate online tools such as Feedburner and Technorati to help us manage information coming our way every minute .  (Ironically, we are also catching up on learning emerging new information management tools.)

Even if you are an expert on using these tools, you could still become one of the statistics of “people whose social lives are totally consumed by social media” if you don’t put aside some time for your personal life away from your computer or mobile device.  You need face-to-face connections with people you know outside your profession.  Do some exercises to improve your physical well-being (at least your eyes, your neck and shoulders need some rest) and to relieve your mental stress.

A group of friends did it by going out for a dinner and stacking their smart phones in the middle of the table; and whoever picked up his phone first before the bills were paid would have to pay for the whole table.  Well, depending on how attached they were to online networking, some must have enjoyed the disruption-free social function, while others might have agonized during the dinner for not being able to “stay connected”!

5 thoughts on “A Quiet World with a Lot of Buzzing

  1. Hi Annie – I found your post very innteresting, and is certainly something that friends, colleagues and family have discussed often. Certainly for my parents, they would get very annoyed by my inattentiveness at the dinner table because i would be distracted by my phone. I think for many people, it is the device that connects them, rather than disconnects them from others. That being said, there is an anonymity and impersonal nature that accompanies social media that is translating into more awkward social behaviour when people are required to deal with one another face to face. I find that it is harder to talk to people over the phone that are my age, because we are so used to writing or texting everything. In many ways it has made us worse at socializing; we may do it more often online, but we are incapable of behaving in a social way without our phones. I do think that young people will start to buck this trend, however. Everything goes through phases, and many young couples I know don’t have televisions in the house. Perhaps the same will be said for mobile phones at the dinner table!

  2. I can’t deny that I like my social media, but I think that sometimes people forget that social media is a tool. While it can enhance social media and help people interact, it can cause a disruptions to face-to-face communications. At the end of the day, I believe that it is up to individuals to decided when and where to use these tools and to choose wisely in order to enhance communications.

  3. Well written Annie! I believe this is one of the biggest debates of our day and there is an impassioned force driving it. Finding the proper balance is challenging. I have days when I am immersed in my devices and have zero in-person contact. But there used to be days when I was deep in the woods 24/7 also with no human contact. My job is in social media. I am a workaholic. Before I entered the social media world my shortest work week in 2012 was 117 hours. I had lots of human contact but it was not my friends and family. My justification to answering an email while out to dinner with them is “hey, a year ago you didn’t see me at all, you can live without me for 2 minute intervals”. My sister-in-law bans cell phones from her house but she doesn’t refrain from taking a 20 minute landline call while her guests sit ignored. I’ve yet to find anyone on the “anti” side prove themselves not guilty of an equally self-involved practice. How about sports fans? Yes, I have been so-called stuck with the bill at the restaurant several times, but what I’m doing on my cellphone easily pays those bills that give others an enjoyable evening so I do it intentionally. If people could balance their habits as well as you presented the debate at hand, we would all be better off 😀

  4. I definitely enjoy social media, however I do agree with it being very consuming. As a busy mom, I like the ability to bring my phone where ever I go (the hockey rink, grocery store, etc) and get in some quick reading while multi-tasking. I love to read but find it very hard to be able to have the time to read even a magazine these days. And as bed time approaches I hit the pillow and fall asleep. That’s where social media helps. I can pick up my phone when I have a few spare minutes and get lost in various tweets or news articles. They are short and to the point, and I get to savor my “social media” time as a form of relaxation on the go. 🙂

  5. I enjoy social media, and it has so many benefits, but like you said it needs to be used wisely. If we completely drown ourselves in social media and forget about our real lives we could end up alone and defeated in an ever moving/ever buzzing world. I love social media because it is a way of interacting with people who have the same interests as you, it also is a great avenue for self-expression, I have a lot of respect who can make a living off of their YouTube channels or Blogs and sometimes i wish i could do the same. No matter what, social media cannot be escaped, it is a wave and everyone in this century has got to catch it if they wanna “keep up”, but don’t let the wave overwhelm you and take you down!

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