Friday, March 20, 2015


Back in 2001 I was at the front end of the social media wave.  I was so into technology I even took a course in social media to learn about it to make a living from it. I was among the first pioneers of all my circle of connections to Steam live, have a Facebook and twitter account and many other social media accounts.  This was long before Instagram or Snapchat.  Over a decade later I honestly have to say I do not think we are a better people or culture because of social media or technology. It was said then that it would save us time or create more time. But I believe it’s done the opposite! It steals our time and robs our real social life of sharing our life later in conversation and pictures with those we do in person life with.  Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate a lot about technology and still use it, and there are even life saving stories about technology and how it’s enhanced our lives.  But when I look at the BIG Picture it’s not as good.  Let me say this is a current struggling confessional post about social media without an absolute solution. Which means, I am still seeking solutions and balance.  So let me start on perspective of what I like about social media before I rip on it.

      I think it is great to get an inspirational idea, fresh fun happening or capture some news story or event and be able to share it for warning or inspiring others on the spot.  I mean really, social media has a lot it offers to make us laugh, learn, warn and help people on the spot.  But on the flip side I believe more people are harmed, isolated, addicted, distracted and even killed because of social media. We have something we never had before without thinking through the rules and limitations we should have set in motion first. But we did not know what we would do with what we never had before either. We never thought we might need  to protect ourselves from the bad side of it all.  Long before the internet came along we had TV.

The same case could be made for it. TV can be used for education, inspiration and positive entertainment. Good stuff right? But then came the bad entertainment mixed in with the good and on a gradual basis this happened until we did not know we were even consuming bad entertainment.  In general we never warned people about the bad because the bad crept in before we knew it was bad.  Now TV allows cursing, nudity, perversion and much more, but it started off pretty good at the front end.  I believe we are experiencing the slow evolution of a eventual revolution of the way we think, act and behave to our own demise. 

Let’s take the selfie concept for a moment. In my entire 53 years of life I would never have thought to take a picture of myself alone to share with people unless it was for perhaps a church directory or a resume or family heritage album or something well purposed.  Growing up people had to pay to have pictures developed, so people first.thought about what they would take pictures of. At Disney World you will find those Kodak moment spots that were made intentionally for people to stand in front of a pretty background scene so you could later share that “you and others” were at a certain place.  The picture was dual focused. It was either take a picture of a place or thing to remember and share it later  or pose in front of that scene so you could share that you were there with others.  Now that picture taking is unlimited and free we find  people take pictures from anything and everything to absolutely nothing.   I mean really, who wants to see a daily or weekly photo of what you eat every day?  We have either loss our sense of boundaries with picture taking or we never thought that we should make them or need them.  Let me admit now,  I stand guilty of my own observation to varying degrees.

Our youngest generation is the most jeopardized generation ever.  They have grown up on social media and hand held devices and nobody seemed to consider that  we should have given them with rules of when, where, how often and why.  I mean if a guy or girl takes a dozen pictures of themselves every day and post them every day what in the world are they going to grow up thinking about themselves?  I can see taking a selfie for a profile for your identity, but do we need to see a new selfie every day?  And if we do, are we empowering people to be vain and conceded and self consumed?  In large part I believe we have lost control of who we are and how to socially function properly and godly.  I cannot tell you how many places and times I have looked around me in public to only see people engaged with their devices instead of the people around them. ( I stand guilty as well) . Even while at events and life’s special moments people are often socially around the world instead of with those that are present.  Because we post and share everything when it happens we have nothing to share when we get together.  When we do get together we might start to tell someone where we were and what we did only to hear a reply such as, “Oh yeah I saw your pictures and post”. 

 A few weeks ago I learned there are Selfie sticks for cameras so you don’t have to depend on or ask someone else to take a picture of you anymore.  
We need boundaries and time limits on so many levels or we and our children will become obsessed and overwhelmed if we are not already.  Our youngest generation as well as many older folks needs help to get some boundaries in place who don’t see the problem as it is. Just to test your selfie consumption go look at one of your favorite social media sites and count how many selfies you took of you alone in the picture. How many 5, 10, 50, 100's. are you self consumed? If so , should you be concerned about this as it affects those around you in real life?

  Like I said earlier this is a current challenge in my life as it is in so many others as well.  I know I have personally missed far too many great moments in front me because I was self absorbed in another world so far away from me.   Unfortunately social media is probably doing far more damage to people’s relationships, lives and mental and emotional health then it is doing good to inspire and save and heal lives. I believe it does both, but because most people don’t set their own social etiquette rules we have become slaves to our own social creations of time savers.

Let’s look up & talk together, laugh out loud and put our devices away more often. We don’t need to take pictures of everything, everywhere all the time.  We don’t need to post what we are doing every hour about every random thought we have or heard. We need to save some of it for when we see each other. Imagine if you took pictures for a month without posting a single one.  Could you handle it? How many would you delete a month later without sharing it with anyone?  We almost have forgot to think about what we do and why we do it.

Maybe the overall good of social media is that it can cause to ask ourselves what is really important again. How much time could I have again if I played fewer games, posted less stuff and made fewer comments and read fewer posts? Do we even measure how much time we spend on our devices?  Like I said at the beginning of this post, it is not about answers as much as it’s about trying to discover a balance of good with healthy recommended rules for the next generation.

Do we need our phones with us 24/7? Do we need to be accessed 24/7? Are we still in control?  


Unknown said...

Good article and a lot to think about Peter.

Unknown said...

This is my second comment thanks to technology.