Life without social media: can you imagine it?

When I was in university, one of my History professors came upon a group of us discussing the question of what might have happened to Canada’s development as a country if Canadian troops hadn’t performed so well at Vimy Ridge, France in 1917 (which is known as Canada’s coming of age). He commented along the lines that while it was an interesting discussion, what happened happened. He added that because, in the early 2000s, we knew what happened, we couldn’t really speak to the roads not taken, so to speak. We can only live with the effects of the events, which, in the tragedy, were good things for Canada as a country.

I’m likely on a lower edge of the age range of those who remember life without social media. I joined Facebook in 2007 and posted about my first trip in 2008 when I went to PEI. Since then social media has been a good companion to have when I travel and more recently throughout the pandemic.

This course has stirred up many musings about my experience with social media, both personally and professionally. As such, for fun, I find myself wondering about a Vimy-like question today: What might life be like today if social media hadn’t nudged its way into our lives?

Following are a few of my musings:

What I would miss

Instant connection with friends and family who live more than a couple of hours away

With one click, I can share news once and everyone receives it. Growing up, despite enjoying writing, I was never a big letter writer, and I admit to being delinquent in responding to emails. So the thought of remaining connected solely by those two means of communication is a little stressful, especially with friends I’ve met overseas.

Having a creative outlet

You can’t miss what you don’t have so I would probably channel my creativity some other way, but I do enjoy the challenge of having to be creative in a fixed character space (such as on Twitter).

Doing this course with like-minded people such as you


I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs and discussion answers.

What I wouldn’t miss

Social media posts as news stories

I’m a current affairs junkie, but I draw the line when over half of an article is copy and pastes of Tweets or other platform posts.

The ‘noise’

While most of the time I enjoy reading witty banter on Twitter to find inspiration for my work posts, there are days where I just want to throw my phone away. On those days I just shut it all off and read. 😉

From ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’, 1966

Shortened attention span

I don’t think I would miss having to compete with the steady pings and buzzes from apps when I’m having conversations with colleagues at work or friends.

Knowing that social media has infiltrated our lives as it has and for some it just is a part of their life, I still issue the challenge: what do you imagine your life would be like without social media?

Social media ‘Superstardom’: What is the cost?

My blog this week is an offshoot of our assignment about personal branding. I only touched on it briefly, but it’s interesting that the topic of the cost of being a social media ‘superstar’ has remained on my mind.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

I’ve heard on and off in recent years about the ‘cost’ of social media ‘superstardom’ with news stories of social media ‘superstars’ on various platforms announcing that they were taking breaks to deal with health, particularly mental health, issues.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but issues might include:

  • undue pressure to continuously ‘perform’ and outperform yourself (you’re only as good as your last viral video) doing something that started out as fun (Parkin, 2018);
  • having to manage (sometimes unexpected) attention, especially at a young age without proper support in place (for example, Justin Bieber’s meteoric rise to stardom on YouTube);
  • dealing with vicious comments and unwarranted personal attacks (Parkin, 2018);
  • managing unruly comments boards (Parkin, 2018);
  • an almost complete loss of your private life (Harwell, 2021);
  • not being able to handle what happens when, through no fault of your own, your audience moves on to the next ‘star’.

I referenced an article from 2018 in my paper, but this week, coincidentally (or algorithm-driven?), a couple of different articles popped up about Twitch, a live streaming platform. Between the two articles (Harwell, 2021) (MacDonald, 2021), a typical day for the platform’s ‘superstars’ appears to involve 8 to 10 hours of live streaming, 5 to often 7 days a week, plus any time they stream or post about their personal lives on other platforms.

If you’re one of the lucky streamers, this grueling schedule can lead to lucrative company sponsorships, viewer subscriptions and other financial streams, such as merchandise. However, lucky you have to be: a data hack in October of internal Twitch data revealed that “though more than 7 million people stream on Twitch every month, only the top 3,000 — less than 0.1 percent — made more than the typical American household earning $67,000 a year.” (Harwell, 2021)

The articles also expose the growing rate of burnout as the lifestyle becomes unsustainable and what streamers are (or aren’t) doing in response.

I can definitely say that I’m not out to make any money from my social media presence. The thought of having to constantly be ‘on’ and engaged with my followers, if only on one platform, never mind multiple ones, is exhausting.

With traditional advertising methods on the decline, it was bound to happen, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the monetization of social media. Do you think the effort required to promote your brand is worth the cost?


Harwell, D. (2021, December 2). Up all night with a Twitch millionaire: The loneliness and rage of the Internet’s new rock stars. Washington Post.

MacDonald, K. (2021, November 26). ‘I am not gonna die on the internet for you!’: how game streaming went from dream job to a burnout nightmare. The Guardian.

Parkin, S. (2018, September 8). The YouTube stars heading for burnout: ‘The most fun job imaginable became deeply bleak’. The Guardian.

Testing 1, 2…how are you hearing my post?

The topic of this blog is one that’s on my mind a fair bit lately as my organization searches for its online ‘voice’. My Director wants us to be bolder, but I think we’re still working out what that means exactly. I don’t exactly think of myself as a revolutionary, but some days I’ve been wondering…

I see social media often described as ‘conversation’ between the poster and his/her followers/Friends or the Internet writ large if posts are public. This means that, as when you chat with a friend or a stranger, your tone is important.

What do I mean by tone? In school, we learned about ‘Formal’ and ‘Informal’ tone. As a quick recap from Grammarly, ‘formal’ tone is “more serious, and features more buttoned-up construction, longer words, and little to no slang”, while an informal tone is “is how you communicate with people you know well and can relax around”. From my experience on social media, there is a grey zone. I don’t know if there’s a formal, as it were, term for it, but I call it ‘business casual’ – where your organization projects itself as professional and respectable, but there’s an edge of fun to the post, in the form of a subtle pun, play on words, a joke, self-deprecation (look up the time KFC ran out of chicken) or an appropriate play on a cultural reference. Not that every post has to go viral, but these are the posts that will go viral for the right reasons (which is what anyone who is on social media wants deep down).

Sometimes you have to search for the ‘hook’, but there are some days in the calendar that are ripe for the taking, if you’re willing to take the risk.  Two of those days are April Fools Day (April 1st) and Star Wars Day (May 4th – ‘May the Fourth be with you’ 😉 ). To bring a same example back (see Discussion #2), the Canadian Armed Forces have been stepping up and an Honourable Mention goes to Ottawa Public Health, but I also want to highlight Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (I had a hard time choosing only one example from each):

Screenshot from @Healthy Canadians (now @GovCanHealth), May 4, 2020
Screenshot from @Transport Canada

Thankfully, I still have time to nudge my team!

  • Are there any other days/holidays that you think would be optimal for an organization, no matter their mandate, to step out of their online ‘comfort zone’?


Potter, D. (2019, October 17). Formal vs. Informal Writing: A Complete Guide, Grammarly.

Blog #1: The double-edged sword of going viral

“A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”C.H. Spurgeon, British preacher (1834–1892) 

Given the speed at which information now spreads, do you think he would update it to say that lies lap the truth as it’s pulling its boots on? 

Posts go ‘viral’ for all kinds of reasons: 

  • they show heartwarming humanity or humour; 
  • they contain information actually worth sharing (yes, it happens!); or 
  • they contain misinformation that gets reposted or retweeted without thought.  

There are also times where it’s not so much a case of a lie spreading and the truth trying to catch up, but a post goes viral and either  

  • an error has accidentally slipped in; or 
  • the ‘viral spread’ itself catches the originator off guard.  

In either of these cases, the original post needs to be deleted and a follow up post issued. This isn’t an ideal situation to be in because it’s guaranteed that the follow up won’t travel as far as the original post.

Check the recent cautionary tale: if you’re on Instagram, you may have recently seen the sticker ‘We’ll plant a tree for every pet picture’ or noticed an increase in the number of pet pictures posted. According to reporting from CBC (link will open in this window), more than 4 million users posted pictures of their pets with the sticker in what was presented as a contribution to a tree planting campaign. The originator of the post, Plant A Tree Co., quickly realized that they wouldn’t be able to follow through on the demand. They deleted the original post and released a follow up post, but it was too late. Plant A Tree Co. is now doing the right thing by raising money to support the planting of a large number of trees, but this is an example of how organizations can unintentionally lose control of their posts. 

Photo by Tomas Anunziata from Pexels

I leave you with a couple of tips from my own social media wanderings and experience: 

  • Borrowing from carpentry (“measure twice, cut once”): once you draft your post, if you have time, sleep on it then review it with fresh eyes so you only need to press ‘Post’ once. 
  • If it’s a post for your organization, do a brainstorm of possible reactions from your audience ahead of posting. Some themes, such as pictures of pets, are a guaranteed viral ‘win’ so you better prepare for a strong response. 

What are your favourite examples of posts (on any platform) that have gone viral for the right or wrong reasons? 

Do you have any tips to prevent a post from going viral for all of the wrong reasons?