What motivates my own social media usage? In a word, selfishness. The internet makes it so easy to focus on my own goals, needs, and interests, and I hate that at times it enables me to become incredibly self-involved. When I first started using Facebook, I loved being able to post pictures of all the fun things I was doing so the world could see, and I loved being able to check in on what my friends were doing as well. However, I quickly found that I Facebook was taking up way too much of my time, and it wasn’t healthy to be able to keep constant tabs on my exes and old friends I didn’t speak to anymore. So I’ve pretty much stopped using Facebook, and I only really log in when I need to message someone and I have no other way to reach out to them.
I have a Twitter account, but I rarely tweet myself. I mostly just use Twitter to find good new sources and browse entertaining content when I have a few minutes. I am such a consumer of Twitter content, but I don’t contribute at all myself.
I use Snapchat frequently, but I only respond to snaps when I’m bored or have nothing else to do. When I’m in the middle of class or a meeting, I absolutely won’t pull out my phone to check my email or my text messages, because I prioritize whatever else it is that I’m doing in that moment.
I wonder if there’s a trend here between social media and selfishness. Social media makes it so easy to connect with people, but it also makes it easy to ignore people when we just don’t feel like speaking with them. It makes it so easy to follow my exact whims and live life according to my own desires and needs. I can connect with basically anyone, search/browse anything, or curate content, but I get to choose exactly when I do it and do it exactly the way I want to… but communication in the real world isn’t like that. Someone could knock on my bedroom door at any point in the day, and I wouldn’t be able to ignore them or respond in a few minutes when I feel like it. When I’m at work, someone can interrupt me at any time with a problem that I have to fix at that instant. In the real world, we aren’t always in complete control over our time and schedules, but social media gives us (or at least me) a false sense of control, importance, and influence.
When social media and virtual communities first started, I think people had a much more selfless view of communication and thought that online networks were going to improve efficiency for the sake of the greater good. I think that some of the early visionaries may be disappointed in my ratio of consumption to contribution, and I think they may be disappointed by some of the ways in which we’ve contorted social media to suit our own needs and impulsive desires.