Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Social Media: The other ball and chain

I remember the days when you could go to dinner with your girlfriends or go to the mall or take a nap, without a camera phone in your face. You would get home and not have to worry that already you had been tagged by Mary in 8 photos. Life used to be so simple then. You socialised without socialising. That is, you went out and enjoyed the concept of going out and catching up and having a good time and did not get lost in the tomorrow of "I need to share this with my network" or "This will make a great profile photo". These days Facebook does not even need an invitation or to RSVP. It's the ultimate stormer, wedding crasher and boldfaced guest.

You went out and did not tweet where you were. You just went out, stayed out, did uour thing and came back home. You did not have to worry about being caught on video in the supermarket or on the promenade. You did not have to ask a friend not to post that photo or tag you, or email them to ask them to take a photo down. One friend did not want to share the best day of her life with thousands of strangers and asked her friends who had posted her wedding photos not too long after the wedding, to please take them down. Some people do have the love affair with social media, some people don't.

I remember when not everything was everyone else's business.

I don't go everywhere with a camera or use my camera phone to catch every single moment. Shucks. My camera seems to only leave the house when I am on my way to the airport and some work-free environment. I enjoy hearing the jokes and tales from friends and not missing a single detail because I was foraging around in my bag for my camera phone so I could upload yet another photo to Facebook or Twitter, or make a video. I do have albums on Facebook, of vacations and special occasions or random crap, but I don't have scores of albums to memorialise every car trip, every birthday party, every dinner, every beach lime I have ever gone to. I don't sit at the dinner table with my smartphone checking tweets or emails. I like looking into the faces of friends and hearing their laughter and being wholly part of the moment. And if I don't have tons of photos to remember the occasion, or some means to let my network know that the steak was spectacular, that's okay.

I am old school that way. And though part of my job is social media - a big part - it's not my life either! Are you bound by the old ball and chain when it comes to social networks? Don't get me wrong - we all know the impact it has had on us and I will be the first to admit that social media is awesome awesome awesome. But oh gosh, who is the master and who is the "servant"?


What a great post!! (or at least, I agree with every word written!!) I especially connect with the last sentence. TO me, technology is a tool to enhance my life. I rule it, it does not rule me. I too could be considered a social media maven, I am on FB, Skype and Twitter, (on twitter long before most, perhaps any, trini based trini), and I use them regularly. However, I don't see the need to publicly document my life or the life of others on either. However, I don't think the ball and chain is social media, I think it is technology.

These TOOLS allow me to connect with people who live abroad, and yes, to look at pics of SPECIAL moments and events. At the same time however, I don't walk around with my camera, my phone doesn't even have a camera, when I'm liming with you, I'M LIMING WITH YOU!!

And speaking of phones, I heard somebody say the other day "I don't know how I used to manage without my cell phone"... I responded "And somehow you manage to survive". Some people can't survive without their BB. I was at a lime yesterday. There were 11 of us and 10 BBs on the table, and every 5 minutes people were checking their BBMs, and adding each other to BBM each other... WHEN THEY ARE SITTING ACROSS THE TABLE FROM EACH OTHER. I accept that cell phones are critical, especially in the world of work, but at the same time, it has taken away the distinction of being at work, and not being at work. I read somewhere (I think it was on the internet :-)) that with the increasing prevalence of cell phones, people were less punctual for meetings and appointments as they could always call to say they were running late, and further, these tools which were made to make our life easier have made us busier and less relaxed.

I consciously leave my cell phone at home and in the car, or sometimes just ignore it ringing (that not so much), just so that I can have some me time. Believe me, I know how I would survive without my cellphone.

In my relationship with social media/tech, I know who is carrying the whip...

Awesome awesome comment. Totally agree with everything said here. I have 2 phones and when I leave the office on a Friday afternoon, more often than not, the phones stay in my bag until Monday morning. I love connecting with friends etc online but there has to be some control, specifically with ME yielding it, not the technology. I know someone, who once updated Facebook from church. That's wrong on soooo many levels. But BBs have really messed with some people's lives. It's like their existence depends upon them!

As someone who has taken photos for years, long before FB and even before the public Internet, I really don't see any issue with focusing on the shot rather than reacting to the goal. They probably got the goal shot long time... I don't see how photography ties into the social networking/cell phone/technology taking over my life thing.
I have a BB and an iPhone. I used to read books when I was out and bored, now I read e-books and surf the web. More convenient. Yes, I read or surf or post or write Blog entries when I am bored with the event.
My BB has made me far more punctual (I love those reminders and maps) and a lot more relaxed as I don't have to harass myself over little details.
I believe that work should be done as it is needed, and am pretty much against the 8-4 hour punching system. Most people who work an 8 hour day are usually only productive for 3 hours of that day. I love that mobile technology allows me to be productive when I want or need to be, and allows me to know when those times are.

So, I've been at the beach on a Wednesday, having nothing urgent to do at work: I get a message, find a document on the BB, edit it a bit, email to the relevant people, solve the problem, and go back to my bake & shark. Took about 10 mins.

I love being connected. I much prefer a message, or an email. I do not often answer my phone. That puts me on other people's schedule, not mine. The tools are there to help me work to MY schedule. And they do, fabulously!

Okay, I think this comment needed to go with the post higher up. In any event, noone is disputing that smartphones have made life convenient, but there are those who take this "convenience" to new levels, where a private passion impacts a public space. I use my phone at airports, in waiting rooms to keep me occupied or to catch up on work. Do I use it constantly when the objective at hand is to enjoy the place I am in, the people I am with, the moment at hand? No. Do I use it to the detriment of others around me either via invading their privacy or interfering with their enjoyment of a show, game, etc. Nope. Noone is saying it's not convenient. I think we can all agree that it is highly convenient, but sometimes some people...note I said SOME, need to use a bit of discretion.

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