You’re not a real person unless you use social media

As a 24 year-old, I was in middle school and high school when social media became popular.  I was probably one of the first to use MySpace and Facebook.  However, now it seems like everyone uses some sort of social media anymore.  I hear (or read) comments such as these on a regular basis:

“Did you see latest my Facebook status?”

“What’s your Twitter name?  I want to tag you in a post!”

“Look at how many ‘likes’ I got on my Instagram photo!”

So my question is: can you be a real person in 2013 without using social media?  After consuming this week’s readings and finding an article about social media statistics, I am leaning towards no.  Below are some behavioral changes resulting from social media:

  • Keeping up with long distance family and friends has transformed from impossible to very possible.  When my boyfriend was on deployment with the U.S. Navy, we kept in touch through email and other social networking sites.  Now, I use Skype, Facebook, and [recently] Instagram to keep up with my very best friend who moved to South Korea in June.  She posts pictures of her sightseeing trips and travels; I “like” them and make comments regularly on Facebook and Instagram.  We try to communicate on Skype at least once every two weeks to keep each other up-to-date with our jobs and lives after college.  I am so grateful to have social media to stay in touch with such a dear friend.
  • Email is on its way out.  According to Chapter 2 in Qualman’s Socialnomics, “People are updating their status […] and it is much easier to read this and stay connected than to send a series of emails” (p. 46).  I agree with this completely.  In my personal experience, my friends and I used email before social media became popular.  Now, I think of email similar to how I think of snail mail.  Social media messaging functions and text messaging on cell phones is easy to manage and “acts like a real conversation among friends” (p. 46).  Besides, we are all checking our social media sites anyway.
  • As mention in the reading, “Would you like to go on a date?” is now “Do you have a Facebook page?”  As a “younger” woman, I am very aware of this practice.  Admittedly, I have engaged in this behavior.  I was in college between 2008 and 2012.  When I went to social gatherings, I would strike up conversations with guys who eventually asked for my social media contact information.  For example, after meeting someone at a Christmas party, he found me on Facebook through our mutual friend’s Facebook.  We communicated through the messaging function that way several weeks before we actually went on a date.

Social media has entered every realm of our lives and we can no longer hide from it.  Future employers use it to find incriminating information.  Current employers use it as grounds for firing their employees.  Long lost friends use it to reunite with their high school pals.  Companies use it to target prospective customers.  Now, it is impossible to be a person unless you use social media.  (Although I do not actually think people who do not use social media are not real people, the point I attempt to make is that nearly everyone uses some type of social media and it is changing our social patterns.)

References

Qualman, E.  (2009).  Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business.  Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Posted on September 22, 2013, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. You are so right – email is becoming the new snail mail! My friends (and many of my family members) and I don’t email anymore. The only people I email regularly are my co-workers and customers, but who knows? If LinkedIn takes off in the professional setting like Facebook has in the social setting, I might be posting client communications via social networking sites before we know it! I think about all of the great emails I’ve had back-and-forth with clients, helping them solve a problem. Imagine if that was displayed for the entire world to see? Talk about good PR for our company! The possibilities are endless.

  2. I agree email has become a thing of the past. It seems people either post things directly to their Facebook news feed to share with everyone, or use Facebook chat/messaging to send something privately. Now it seems emails are only used at work or for junk!
    I think as you point out, people have to have a social media presence. We’ve become a society of Googling one another, and if I can’t find a profile for someone I’m skeptical.

  3. I had to laugh when you mentioned that in the dating world, you are asked for your social media information instead of a phone number! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since my kids have not even bothered to set up their voice mail and they HATE getting emails from me. This week’s readings made me realize that so much of my “Inbox” is spam or retail coupons, etc. I use Facebook more than I realize to communicate with friends. Texting has also made a huge dent in needing either voice mail or email.

    • Texting! Oh, what a wondrous invention. It has been especially helpful for me at home where, for some reason, I have horrible cell phone reception. I will drop a call, but a text always goes through!

  4. I think you still can be a real person without social media, but it is certainly a lot more work to stay in touch with friends and family. I have a friend who has refused to join Facebook, so I think she is more reliant on other communication forms like texting, calling, and email. She just got married, so at least she doesn’t have to deal with the dating portion.

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