Can we get serious for a moment, folks?
Though I am sure it’s a tough thing for some of those in this challenge to do, I will get serious. Well, to an extent.
This theme is quite interesting as it gives you a chance to speak (write) about something that is extremely relevant in the world today – social media. The best part is I’ve had an idea for a post in my head for a long time – and this gives me the perfect chance to write about it.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or some other form of social media, it’s hard to imagine anyone under the age of 50 not being on at least one of those platforms. And these platforms are connected to one another, too.
But how good are they for life and society?
I feel lucky in the time period I grew up in. As a kid, technology wasn’t that crazy. I had an Atari 2600. Friends had a ColecoVision. The first computer in my house was one my brother had in college. Talk about a clunker!
In school, I experience computers via the early Apples – green screens and all. We played Oregon Trail and, I believe, the first Castle Wolfenstein.
Summers were filled with playing baseball, football, running around, riding bikes, swimming and being kids. We didn’t sit at home on computers, play video games or text friends. We left in the morning, came home for lunch (usually), went back out, home for dinner and then out until dark.
That’s what we did.
We didn’t tweet about it, post photos on Instagram or Facebook, or search for ideas on how to play outside via Pinterest.
We were kids.
If our parents or whoever needed us, they had to find us the old-fashioned way. There were no cell phone calls.
It was all about playing and being a kid. Where did that all change?
Growing with tech
I’ve had the chance to see technology grow.
Computers quickly became a part of everyday life. Technology continued to grow and get better and better. I remember signing up for AOL early in its existence. I think the first modem I used to sign up online was either like 2600 or 5600 or something like that.
And that was considered fast!
You got those sounds of the modem connecting and the AOL “Welcome” and “You’ve got mail!” would chime away as you signed on. It was glorious when you got mail. Maybe it was from people you had met in the countless AOL chat rooms.
Then the internet speed got faster. Computers got better.
When I went to college, we were playing games online with each other. The social aspect of things continued to grow. MySpace was the first “big” social media platform I remember.
Most people know the story of Facebook. It blew up the social media world. It doesn’t matter how you look at things, Facebook has to be the one everybody looks at and says – social media grew here. There were things before Facebook, that’s for sure. But Facebook was the explosion.
And it first started out, if I’m not mistaken, as only a campus thing. You had to have a college e-mail or something like that. Then it grew and grew and grew.
Now look at it.
The social media empire is amazing. If you come up with something amazing, you can be rich quick if the right person or people want to buy it. Look at Instagram. It was something like two years old, had no revenue or anything like that and sold to Facebook.
For a billion dollars.
Snapchat – that fun little app where you take a photo and the other person can only see it for a limited time – was also on Facebook’s radar. It’s reported the Snapchat people turned down THREE BILLION DOLLARS.
Can you imagine that? Maybe it’s because people say Instagram is apparently worth upward of $15 Billion these days. And it was purchased for a billion.
Seriously, though, if I’m the Snapchat dude … three billion? I could be set for life – so many times over – and have all my employees never – EVER – have to work again. At what point does it get to a point where you have enough?
Maybe that’s just me.
But the social media boom has gone crazy. From Facebook to Twitter to the photo ones mentioned above to LinkedIn to Pinterest or something else – social media is everywhere.
The good, the bad
Social media, obviously, has its important traits. It allows people to re-connect, to make new friends, to see different things going on in the world.
There have been many times I found something out via Twitter or Facebook. In fact, if you are a longtime reader here, I found out about the death of a famous relative via social media.
It can be a lot of fun – in moderation. When I was out of work, I found social media to be a way to get away from some reality. When I was working on applications and all the other things, I would go there to take a break. Check tweets and read stuff on Facebook and such.
But for some people, it’s an addiction. There’s adding whoever as friends, liking every post, posting so many things and having to check over and over every day.
Since working, that’s calmed for me. A lot of my posts are auto posts (blog stuff etc.) and such and I don’t check nearly as much. I find it doesn’t bother me, either, as it’s refreshing to get away from it. I haven’t even read and tweeted as much and that, for the most part, was always my favorite social media platform.
There are reports out there all the time about bullying through the network and people doing bad things to others. It’s been documented that cyber bullying has caused people to commit suicide. That, unfortunately speaks a bit about society now and how it’s hard to cope, it seems.
I say this only because I was bullied when I was a kid. It wasn’t fun. I hated high school and wouldn’t go back to that time in my life for anything. It breaks my heart to see people teased unmercifully. I always tried to fight back, but there were times that I just felt depressed. There are a few things that still bother me. I didn’t go to my 20th high school reunion partly because of my feeling toward several people because of how high school went. I’m not sure I’ll go to the next one, either.
A few classmates with whom I still talk said I should move on. And, as I told them – I have. But I didn’t like certain people in high school because of how I was treated. That won’t change, even if they have. There’s a period in my life where I was completely miserable – I can’t get that time back. And I don’t plan on acting friendly with people who caused that. Therefore, I just stay away because it’s better for me that way.
Anyway, the reason I tell this story is I wonder what that would have been like if there had been social media. Would it have been worse for me? Would I have reacted as some kids these days do? I would hope I wouldn’t – but who knows? What’s to say I couldn’t have done something drastic and/or stupid because of how I was treated?
Nobody can tell.
That’s the problem with social media. Snapchat is a perfect example – the younger generation uses this quite a bit. And there have been documented cases of teens and such being dumb and sending racy photos of themselves. That’s not just snapchat though, that’s all over.
And it’s completely idiotic.
This stuff follows you forever. If you do something silly, it can stay with you forever. Take that selfie half-naked photo and send it to somebody you might not know well – or somebody you do know well. What happens when you have a fight or something?
Plastered all over. And then what?
See, when I was younger, we were taught a lot of things, specifically how to be safe. But with many social media platforms, it’s hard to teach because you don’t always know how to preach the safety, outside of common sense. Unfortunately, sometimes, the younger generation doesn’t always have the best common sense in the world.
Basically, my overall point is social media can be a great thing. But it’s also proven to be a very bad thing. And it’s something that needs to be addressed by society.
I love going on Facebook for a few minutes, or tweeting or something like that. But it shouldn’t ever consume you or be your whole life. Like anything else, moderation is the key. If not, it’s time to take a step back and think about things and put things in perspective a bit more.
This is part of We Work for Cheese’s annual writing challenge. Despite what might be blamed, I had nothing to do with it. Go check them out for other crazy writers doing this challenge.
T-SHIRT ALERT: Nicky has allowed me to create the official shirt for this year’s challenge. I did it via TeeSpring to keep it lower cost. They do all the work. However, it’s like Kickstarter. We have to meet a certain number of sales for this to happen. So, we need 10 shirts to sell. You can get a short-sleeved tee shirt ($13) or long-sleeve ($15). So go buy one. Or two. Or three. Buy! Buy! Buy! Go visit and buy at this link: Challenge shirts. Be the cool kid on the block with this one.
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!