Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Social Media Habits

The view from the Appalachian Boardwalk trail near Vernon, NJ.

It's been an extremely busy past few weeks, between K and I's courthouse wedding and my mom and sister flying to NYC to attend the wedding and then staying for a week afterwards to spend time with me (after we hadn't seen each other in person for 21 months due to the pandemic!). More on all that later. And now - after taking PTO to enjoy my wedding and the visit from my mom and sister - I'm back at the office and needed to hit the ground running when I returned to work. 

Did any of you also start questioning your social media habits in a surprisingly big way after that lengthy Facebook and Instagram outage on Monday? In NYC's time zone, the shutdown started early in the workday and lasted until after I left the office around 6:00 P.M., which was really something. I'm not familiar with any other example of a similarly big tech company or website(s) ever having been completely down for quite so many hours.

I was perturbed to realize I felt noticeably... out of sorts... throughout the Facebook/Instagram outage. Both platforms are admittedly a sizable part of my regular routine with taking brief little "brain breaks" when I transition between tasks throughout my workday or during lunch at my desk. But I still had access to plenty of other social media platforms that are also a big part of my little workday breaks, e.g. Twitter, Reddit, Corporette comments, other blogs, etc. etc. So I really shouldn't have felt as thrown off as I did to not have access to Facebook or Instagram for a few hours.  

Outside of limited times when I know I can't mentally handle big recent news stories - this has only really happened when Justice Ginsburg passed - and so I need to stay off social media for a while to avoid seeing discussions about those specific topics, I generally don't think my social media habits cause problems for me. Sure, there are probably other, better things I could spend my time on, but I generally think I get lots of interesting and useful bits of entertainment, knowledge, and food for thought from social media, even if I do also waste a fair bit of time scrolling to find the uncommonly good stuff. 

I do rely on social media more than usual when my brain is too tired for more intellectually demanding activities. For instance, there's no monthly book post for September coming because I simply could not focus on reading last month, instead I've just been looking at social media before bed. But I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with that. 

In terms of my previous view that social media was, at worst, a benign or neutral influence on my life, it likely helps that the pool of people who actively view or follow my social media presence - whether here at this blog, on Instagram, or on Twitter - is so small that I've actually never had even a single unpleasant interaction with someone engaging with me in bad faith on any of these platforms. I feel like this may be highly unusual in our modern internet age. On very rare occasions, someone was rude to me in response to my comments elsewhere, mainly on Reddit (and in one instance years ago, on The Financial Diet).  

But now that I know a few hours of forced time off Facebook and Instagram can noticeably throw off my day, I guess I have to reassess my previous view that my social media use doesn't have any noteworthy negative effect on my life. Clearly, I have at least some subconscious compulsion to keep checking both platforms throughout the day, and I hadn't fully realized that before. I'll need to ponder this issue a lot more, I definitely don't have any real answers at present. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from anyone who might be reading! Please feel free to leave a comment or question.