Are you being social?

2016 has been actually ridiculous, we all know that. I’ll be writing my stuff that happened in 2016 post very soon once I’ve had a proper think about it all, as it’s going to be very long. Anyway, in the meantime, as many of us have I jumped on the Instagram best nine bandwagon to find out which posts were my most popular this year, here’s what came up and to be honest it made me feel a bit sad.

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I posted just over 230 photos on Instagram this year, selfies in the minority, it’s not my style to post regular selfies, I just do it when I’ve done interesting make up or have fresh hair colour. It’s not something I do everyday or even every week! Out of my top nine, 6 are of my face, 1 of someone else’s face and the others cute lollipops, uhhh okay then. I’m pretty sure I’m more than just a face. Especially this year when we’ve done SO much awesome stuff and it’s not just me who was met with selfie heavy content.

“A like on social media is the real life equivalent of just nodding in acknowledgement or a wink at someone as you pass them in the street, it doesn’t really mean anything real”

However, this did illustrate a point I’ve been thinking about for a long time and have written about in passing before. Social media has given us a warped take on ourselves, relationships and what we do with our time. In this instance, I find it strange that we’ve decided that it’s likes that we’ll measure our success or popularity on rather than any other parameter. A like on social media is the real life equivalent of just nodding in acknowledgement or a wink at someone as you pass them in the street, it doesn’t really mean anything real. It means that someone saw your picture for enough seconds to think they want to double tap the screen. Wow, go you for exercising your finger for less than 10 seconds as you scroll through an endless stream of other people’s creations. It didn’t take anyone any effort and represents seconds worth of that users attention.

Netflix’s re-boot of the Black Mirror series illustrates a social media future that doesn’t seem that futuristic, if you haven’t seen this series, check it out.

Why aren’t we caring more about REAL interaction instead? A genuine, authentic comment on a picture is surely worth a thousand likes? You’re really connecting and you’re letting someone know that what they’ve posted has impacted you in one way or another. Start a conversation, interact and be social that’s what social media is supposed to be about, not passively scrolling and tapping the screen. I’ve cut down a lot on my personal social media usage significantly in the past 6 months and have gotten so much more done because of it. I’ve also significant re-thought how I use my online time too, less meaningless scrolling and more research and conversations with people who inspire me, much better!

This episode of The IT Crowd got the social media problem spot on in their Friendface episode (Series 3, Episode 5), it’s on Netflix, watch it! 

With this in mind, maybe it’s time to chill out about the likes and start getting back to basics. Next time you’ve got an impulse to double tap something online, perhaps take a moment to see how you can interact in a way that might have a greater long term value to everyone. It’s very lonely in a social media world where everyone knows each others business without having ever exchanged a word. Let me know what you think, always here to listen to anyone who would like to talk.

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