Social media…connecting us to the world, or more distancing us from it?!

Social Media

Most of us have one type of social media or other. There’s so many ways how to “connect” with people, there’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, each one giving us different options. The actual media might be slightly different from the other ones, but the basic idea is always the same: CONNECTING TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. But are we really more connected? How about our friends in our neighborhood? Do we spend as much time with them as we do with social media?

I use every social media I mentioned before. Started with Facebook all the way back in like 2008, times when Facebook wasn’t such a big thing in the Czech Republic. My reason for creating a Facebook page was to connect with friends from summer camp that weren’t Czech. And for some time it was exactly what I used Facebook for. But then Facebook got really popular in the Czech Republic, and suddenly all the people I didn’t want to talk in real life were asking me to add them as a friend. But what is the point? It’s not like we really know each other. Ok went to the same class for like eight years or so, but we haven’t spoken more than once, but hey let’s be best friends on Facebook.

Slowly but surely I moved from Facebook to Twitter, that happened mostly because in 2012, when I moved to Montreal, Twitter was the real shit in Canada. At first the idea of Twitter wasn’t really clear to me. Like you have only 140 characters to “tell the world how you feeling” But now I love Twitter, primarily because it’s not popular in the Czech republic, well at least not yet. Hopefully it will never get popular. The thing about twitter is that you can follow people you don’t know, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. I like following newspapers, and publishing companies, because I’m interested in books and news, but don’t really have the time to go and check every website out there, so Twitter allows me to see everything I’m interested in at once. Love it. The bad thing is that Twitter is, let’s say, less private. It’s easier to fake your identity on Twitter. On Facebook you have to accept a friend, but most of us let anyone follow us on Twitter. It’s easier to hide on Twitter than on Facebook, yet most catfishing happens on Facebook, something I don’t quite understand. I simply don’t accept friendships from people I don’t know. But anyways I’m not on Facebook that much anyway.

Lately I got really into this whole idea of Instagram, even though there couldn’t be anything more stupid. You simply take pictures of anything that comes to your mind, for some reason most people take pictures of food. Not a big fan of food porn here, I just don’t find any particular joy in looking at your food. But I love Instagram, just for the fact that the pictures are a square. I always loved squared pictures. As a big photography fan I copuldn’t be more thrilled than when I see a squared picture. Most of my photos on Instagram lately have been of books I’m reading, I don’t know why, but I enjoy looking at pictures of books. Then there’s been the whole hockey/national identity incident, but I’m not gonna let that ruin my pleasure of posting pics on Instagram.

Flickr is a special thing that I learned about in Canada, because it was required to have a Flickr page for my photography class. It let me share my “professional” photos, you know those photos that weren’t taken with an iPhone, with others who are passionate about photography in a more serious way. I also find a lot of inspiration on Flickr for my future projects. I’d say that Flickr is a bit more exclusive, than the other social media I mentioned before, only people actually interested in photography usually join.
I know there’s tons of other social media sites, like MySpace, even though I’m not sure anyone actually still uses it, then there’s Tumblr, which I don’t know anything about, but I’m sure some of you will educate me on the whole Tumblr section in the comments below.

The thing about social media is that we all want to make an impression, whether in front of our friends of strangers, we all want to show that our lives are amazing, why else would we take pictures of our food or books, just “rub in someone’s face” that we’re doing great. If we spend more time with our friends probably they would know what you ate for lunch yesterday because they would’ve been there with you. Even though I’ve seen a good deal of friends going out to lunch and instead of talking, they spend the whole time tapping on their phones. Me, myself is guilty of this crime, but I’m trying to spend less time on my phone when out with friends. The difficult thing about this is that not all my friends live in the same time zone, so sometimes I’m on a night out with a friend of mine that lives in Prague and suddenly my Canadian friend texts me, one that I haven’t had the chance to talk to in ages, but what do I do? Do I ditch my friend that I went out with or do I miss an opportunity to chat with the other friend? But still this is a communication with a friend you know from real life. Sometimes we want to run away from our lives, from our friends and family, our real life, and just hide, and social media is perfect for it.

You can hide behind words and pictures, which is kind of what I’m doing here. You share your opinions with people you don’t know. It can set you free, getting your juice out in the world, actually opening up on the internet, but for some it can lead only to more shutting down. Seeing all these people posting pictures of how amazing they have it can make you feel even more miserable. We all want to make a good impression on the internet, but sometimes we take it to the extreme making our lives looking too good, making others feel bad. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t share what we’re doing I’m just saying that you don’t have to be mean with what you have, don’t rub it in people’s faces.

As was said in a lovely book by R.J. Palacio “Wonder” – When given the choice between being right or being kind. Choose kind. And I think that’s applicable here. When you don’t know who you are or who you want to be, always choose to be kind. Whether it is on social media, or in real life.

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WRITTEN BY SÁRA

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