Social Media the new TV


Remember how our parents used to complain that we would get square eyes from watching too much TV? It was an evil box that sucked us in and could have serious negative influences.

Then it was computer games that drove violence. Now social media is the new evil, ensuring that we don’t know how to actually socialize.

Guess what – technology is not the evil. Books have just as much of a lasting influence on me as movies may have (think of the advert of the young boy whose mind is still playing the movie, even after the TV has been switched off and he has gone to bed).

Social media doesn’t have to “suck us in”. It can actually enhance our relationships. Instead of talking about the weather with an acquaintance, I have found that I have far more in common with them than I thought – we may read the same books or both enjoy horse riding. Now, when I see that person again, we have so much more to talk about than the weather. And yes, too many conversations may start with “did you see that posting on Facebook?” but from there the possibilities are endless.

I love sharing pieces of my life – the proud moments of my kids, the fun places friends are visiting, the interesting articles my cousin finds. It broadens me – not confines me. I would probably never share my love for horse riding with some of my friends because that is not their interest. Yet now they know that about me. I seldom hear – “I didn’t know that about you” anymore from friends who are linked to me on Facebook. It would be hard to miss my likes and dislikes. In the same way, I know more about the people in my social media sphere than I would have otherwise.

I have reconnected with a cousin in Kwazulu Natal who I probably wouldn’t have ever known otherwise. The list of places I want to travel has changed significantly – I no longer want to go to those places that you see in the glossy magazines but rather to the real places I have seen on Facebook – not carefully sanitized images that we are fed by travel bureaus but something that is real and more beautiful because of that.

I have read more books because of my online groups – authors I would never have even known about. I am inspired by the thoughts that some friends share and laugh at the crazy cat videos – normally when I need a laugh the most.

I think we all know this – we are constantly being told how bad social media and technology is yet that hasn’t slowed down the growth of Whatsapp. As TV changed the way we viewed entertainment, technology has changed the way we interact, find information and share our daily experiences. It’s not all good but I doubt we will lose die alone and depressed because we spent too much time on Facebook.

We often assume causality when in fact it is only possible to prove that two factors move in the same direction at the same time. The cause may be something else altogether that we totally missed. Or maybe we should just blame modern music … the favourite scapegoat that has been used for so many generations. After all, One Direction is simply not a natural phenomenon – there must be something I’m missing 🙂