I was talking to a friend the other day who generally avoids what most would consider social media. He doesn’t use anything like Facebook or Twitter and generally can only be reached through texts or the various chat functions attached to video game platforms (and we made him get Snapchat).
He expressed something like a disinterest or an anxiety about being constantly expected to talk to other people through social media platforms, a concern which I think people in our class share. This has always seemed interesting to me since I would generally agree with his statement but I am very fond of the concept of social media anyway.
How do we deal with a feeling that interacting with other people is becoming increasingly complicated? To quote what my friend said about Facebook, “it feels like getting a tank when all I might need is a water pistol”. Messaging someone is different from texting them, which is different still from calling or speaking to them in person. I have personally always felt like I enjoyed the choice that social media offers in communication, meaning mostly the flexibility in a practical sense, but have neglected how the nuances that such a multitude of choices bring might feel suffocating. We can judge a person by the social media they use and how they use it, can’t we? Don’t we feel like people who post too many selfies on Facebook are kind of narcissistic while people who spend all their time on Twitter are maybe too invested in celebrities and not enough with their IRL friends? Don’t we think it’s a poor choice to ask someone out or dump them through text rather than in person (or now, on Skype)? Considering all the complexities in speech in person, is it perhaps relieving to some people that text-based communication seems to strip away many layers of nuance and then stressful when additional choices add them back in, even though it feels impossible to strip language of nuance? On one hand, more specialized social media sites may be able to ease some pressure from interaction, but on the other hand, they only add more choices to pick from. Do we even want everyone to be comfortable with social media?