How much time do you spend on Instagram? If you have an iPhone, you can head to your settings and look under this nifty little thing called “Screentime” to figure it out. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be shamed by the total hours that show up. Apps (and websites) like Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter affect the way that we spend our time. Still, they also affect something else - the way we communicate.
The speed in which we can communicate has changed, in most part, to technological advances. Still, social media plays a role as well. There’s hardly a delay between sending a message and receiving one. Even if a person is on the other side of the world, their message still reaches you almost instantly. And now there are a million different ways to communicate. Snaps, direct messages, mentions, and tags; all of those are ways to reach one another. That’s a good thing. Right?
Not always. This instantaneous communication can seem beneficial - and it sometimes is - but it also gets us accustomed to instant gratification. How many times have you heard someone complaining that they hadn’t received a reply when they sent their message only thirty seconds ago? It’s a problem, not necessarily caused by social media, but certainly not helped by it.
The different avenues of communication can also lead to multiple different ways to be bothered. In the past, if we wanted to cut contact with someone, we merely stopped talking to them or changed our number. Now, there's several different programs that they have to be blocked on. It's a hassle.
We react to posts on websites like FB and Insta by liking them. Unless a significant post inspires us to leave a comment, most of us go through our feeds by double-tapping until we get bored. This encourages a disconnect between the people posting the content and the people consuming it.
Overall, it doesn’t seem like something that’s too big a deal. Still, it’s interesting to consider the apathetic ways in which we spend our time. Why are we bothering with an app if we zone out while using it and let muscle memory take over? Why are we still following that actress/singer/etc., when we stopped getting any enjoyment from their content ages ago?
Why are we bothering with an app if we zone out while using it and let muscle memory take over?
Social media enables us to interact with people we usually wouldn’t have a chance to. Namely, celebrities and other public figures. It helps bridge the gap between those people who tend to seem unreachable and us. We can like and comment on their posts, get an inside view of their lives, and be reminded that they’re just people.
However, this can (1) lead to unhealthy obsessions, and (2) make us feel like we are entitled to parts of their lives when we’re really not. It does us well to remember that what’s posted isn’t the full story. Everyone, celebrity or otherwise, posts what they want others to see about their lives.
Social media is a nebulous and ever-evolving thing that changes how we communicate every day. I, for one, am interested to see what happens next.