I am a social media addict, I admit it. Currently, I have Twitter, Facebook, a WordPress account, LinkedIn and Instagram.
I am a social media addict, I admit it. Currently, I have Twitter, Facebook, a WordPress account, LinkedIn and Instagram. But in the past I’ve touched on Bebo, DeviantART, Flickr, FormSpring, GoodReads, Google+, Habbo, Neopets, and countless others. Except MySpace… and the majority of dating websites. When I search my name on Google, I cringe at what’s out there for the entire world to read and I have gotten into trouble with friends over what I’ve written a few times. It’s a terrible habit. But why are so many people jumping on the social media bandwagon?
When Bebo first came out, everyone had one. If you didn’t have one, people thought you were odd in my school. Those who weren’t yet 13, myself included, often set up accounts with a fake date of birth just to join in the fun – not realising, or caring for, the potential danger we were putting ourselves in. I must be edging into my 40s in Bebo world by now… In my area, MySpace never caught on, and I only got into Facebook when I moved schools at 16 and everyone had a Facebook account.
2. Instant gratification
We live in a society where those who want, get. Arranging a girlie gossip with your best friends is far too time consuming when you can simply check their latest news on Twitter. What’s the point of a phone call when they’re online, and you can check if they’re ignoring your message once they’ve read it? How about we save the environment by sending out a general Facebook event invite rather than a nice little, personalised paper invitation? It takes time and no-one has the energy for that.
3. Need to know
These social networks are built on people’s need for information. We’re a nosey species, and the constant update of news, gossip or otherwise is something that these websites allow us to have. You’re not in a relationship until it’s “Facebook official” and you certainly can’t think that profile picture is nice unless you’re getting everybody “liking” it.
These websites allow us to build a network of “friends” much easier than we probably could in real life. Admittedly, I have around 600 friends on my Facebook account and follow about 300 accounts on Twitter, but I can count the number of close friends I have on one hand. However, if I need to rant then there’s probably someone online who shares my views, and let’s not go into those mysterious people you discover on a Friday night who suddenly drunkenly decide they’re your new best friend!
You don’t have to have an A Level in Information Technology to get into social media sites. Even though we all feel daunted when setting up a new account on any of the hundreds of sites which are available, it’s not long before the majority of us are hooked. Most sites base themselves around updating a status and uploading pictures, and yet it becomes one of the most addictive forms of entertainment – or stress – that is available. I know of children younger than 13, barely in high school, who use it obscene amounts during the day. The fact that there is very little thinking involved is probably the main advantage, and its users’ downfall.
Even considering all of this, I still don’t ever see myself getting rid of my social media accounts. I’ve gone through the drama that can come with the addiction, falling out with friends over a bad status update, having the memories of a bad night flood back when those awful pictures are tagged and having an employer stumble across my rants about the workplace. I’ve also deleted my Facebook account several times, for varying lengths of time, but have also realised the benefits of social media. As long as it’s used with a bit of common sense…
Photo: Thos003 / Flickr