Friday, June 20, 2014

I'm Bored of Social Media!

It's only been two weeks into summer vacation and I AM BORED OUT OF MY MIND.

I've spent these last two weeks just sitting on my bed aimlessly switching between tabs, only getting up to eat or use the bathroom. Getting enough sleep and not having any stress for once is nice, but there isn't anything to do. I'd rather be going out with friends, climbing mountains, getting coffee, watching movies, doing actual things with actual people. Or, alternatively, I wish it were more socially acceptable to just go out and do things like going to the the movies alone. There are so many new movies I want to see, but I don't want to have to ask all of my friends, only to find out that all of them can't or don't want to go. It's disappointing and frustrating, especially to an extremely introverted person like me who does not prefer to socialize in large groups and therefore rarely gets asked to go places. Additionally, most people are already busy or out of town, so the only form of contact I have with them is through social media.

I have been an avid user of Facebook for many years already, and have gotten involved in Pinterest and Youtube frequently over the last year or so. I very recently made a Twitter and Tumblr this summer under a different name because I don't want to get too attached to them. I also kind of use Google+ with this blog. However, this rapid infusion of social media into my life has left me already exhausted with all my accounts. Not that I don't use them anymore, it's that they're not as interesting as they seemed when I first started. A brief period of discontent forced me to reevaluate the function of these sites, why I don't really need them, and why I still use them anyway. Here is what I've come up with.

1. Facebook
Facebook is undoubtedly the king of social media. In my opinion, most other social media websites are basically features taken from Facebook and embellished enough that they can be a standalone site. For example, the function of sharing pictures has now gone to Instagram (though Instagram is owned by Facebook.) Other features will be elaborated on later in this post. Anyhow, that leaves Facebook with basically nothing but its apps, which is one of two reasons why I have not deactivated my account yet (damn you, Candy Crush!) The other reason is that Facebook chat is still incredibly useful, and has not been replaced by texting in my life because I am too lazy to collect everyone's phone numbers. However, I don't need to use Facebook on the computer anymore because of the Facebook messaging app. Despite this, I still do because I find it much easier to type on a computer keyboard than a glitchy phone screen, and because I'm hoping that something interesting will actually come up in the news feed.

2. Google+
My opinion of Google+ is basically that it was built to replace Facebook as the dominant social media site on the internet. However, the attempt failed miserably. True, Google+ is a lot cleaner and versatile than Facebook, but no one wants to have to be directly identifiable and responsible for their actions online on other related sites such as Youtube, where Google Comments was universally regarded as the worst thing to ever happen. What I do like is the convenience of interconnectivity. I've connected this blog to a Google+ page and it automatically updates whenever I create a new post. I'm hesitant to add more widgets to the sidebar to advertise this blog because it looks clunky, but I've found a compromise by putting the Google+ Badge at the bottom of the page. Google+ doesn't look like it's going anywhere fast so I don't really use it, but I do hope it gets more recognition.

3. Youtube
About a year ago, a friend asked me if I watched Youtubers, which I did not understand because I thought Youtube was just cat videos. Now, a year later, I believe her description of Youtube as "the black hole of procrastination." To me, videos are the ultimate source of escapism. Like movies, Youtube videos provide entertainment without any effort on the viewer's behalf. The content is virtually endless, and as a result, it is so easy to become obsessed with the lives of the people on the computer screen. Youtube personalities, known as "Youtubers," are especially addictive, as you watch them in envy and think how great it would be to have their lives because all they seem to do is have fun. However, now that I'm done bingewatching all of their old videos, and can only patiently wait for the sporadically uploaded new videos, my Youtube obsession has diminished to a manageable level. It is nice to have some harmless escapism every once in a while.

4. Pinterest
I was introduced to Pinterest about two years ago, and I have to say it is now by far my favorite "social" media. It is only mildly addicting, and there are no complicated connections to form. All you do is interact with the media. I'd like to describe it as "the introvert's Facebook" or "the 40 year old mom's Tumblr" (secretly we all know that I am a 40 year old at heart.) If there is a Facebook ability that Pinterest took over, it would be the "share" option on posts. They did improve it substantially; the ability to group pictures into boards makes it a great way to consolidate ideas. As long as there will be original content (always, as any image from the internet can be pinned or uploaded) I believe I will be using Pinterest. Like all social media, it's not necessary, but hey, it's fun.

5. Twitter
Twitter basically took over the function of the "status update." No one posts status updates on Facebook anymore because there is now Twitter for you to let everyone know exactly what you're doing or what's on your mind at any time. It's too invasive for my tastes, so I don't use it to post things myself. I do follow other people and creepily stalk check in from time to time, which is the only reason why I haven't deactivated my account yet.

6. Tumblr
Everyone with a Tumblr that I've talked to so far has said something along the lines of "Tumblr will replace your life. Do not get a Tumblr if you value your sleep and sanity." Indeed, at the time it seemed that everyone with a Tumblr became completely consumed and had no life at all. Ignoring all of the warnings, I recently made Tumblr and was quite surprised at how boring it was. Maybe I'm just using it incorrectly. Then I discovered one interesting feature – the search bar – where you can type in a keyword and see all of the related posts, which was fun for a while, before I realized that I didn't really fangirl over many things. However, the existential crisis support through relatable text posts made it worth keeping, at least for now. In the end, I became more obsessed with tweaking the HTML coding to make the theme look nice rather than the actual content. So if you're thinking of making a Tumblr, make a rational decision based on how much life you already have and how much you're willing to sacrifice in exchange for a few funny gifs. And make sure you don't use it in public places, because no matter what, there will be inappropriate images.

So if I don't actually need any of these social media sites, what would I do throughout the day? To be honest, having nothing to do but being expected to do something productive by my parents, such as SAT prep and college research, actually makes me even less productive. Instead of doing something more productive that I want to do, like exercise, or art, or reading the news, I'm just sitting at the computer playing games to pretend that I'm writing an essay or something.

Conclusion: Most social media is completely unnecessary, except for a few key functions such as connecting with people when they're not directly available. It is entertaining, but it is important not to become so absorbed in the digital world that you forget about the real world (I don't think that actually happens very often.) After a while, social media will inevitably become dry and disinteresting, so have real life hobbies that are productive and useful. I'm going to make it a goal to wean myself off the useless sites and focus on what I actually want to do and the people around me. ∆

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