My like/dislike relationship with social media (part 2)-connection


See that group of lovely ladies in the picture above? This is one of the reasons I love social media. Many of those women in the photo I hadn’t seen in over 30 years! We all went to school together at one time or another and all of us but one attended the same private school that ended in 8th grade. This reunion most likely wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t social media.

I know that social media has its bad side. I wrote about my dislike for it in regards to my kids in part one of this post. I have seen adults act like idiots on social media. I’ve seen families fight on Facebook airing their dirty laundry for everyone to see. I’ve seen people make negative comments to strangers that I’m sure they would never share if they were face to face with the person. I’ve see all that. Social Media is just another thing that can distract us from the “real world”. I am guilty of of that one for sure. But I also see the great side of social media. Connection.

I am confident the initial goal of the creation of social media was to get people connecting. Humans crave connection -well most of us do. Create a community where people can connect – then get advertisers to buy ads there ( there has to a monetary upside – someone has to pay for it!). Brilliant!

I have been on Facebook for over 5 years and I have seen it grow. Sometimes the growth has been good and sometimes not. Things we never considered before social media have become things we need to think about – like our privacy, and how we want our info shared or if we do. I have come to understand that anything I share on social media is never really private. So I share only what I am ok with the world seeing or knowing. Same goes on Instagram, Twitter and on and on.

But the good stuff? It is good. Re-connecting with old friends has been so great for me. I have also made new friends. My dad said one night that all my friends on Facebook are not real friends….and partially he is right. Some of those I have friended are acquaintances. But I don’t think that is bad either. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that I can post a question or a need and someone out there I may not know well has some answer.

But oddly enough I have made new friendships through social media. And I have seen other friendships on social media blossom because of a common connection.  I belong to a number of groups on Facebook. One is where creative types post their work. Put together by Author Jon Katz this group has developed into it’s own community. This online group gathers a couple times a year at Bedlam farm where Jon and Maria live in upstate NewYork. Friendships have grown online and many of these folks get together regularly. I have met up with a couple friends from an adoption group I am on. When I got cancer and I was in a horrible place I was compelled to post for help on my Facebook page (read about that here). People came out of the woodwork to help and offer support. What a blessing. When you think about it- what social media has done to the world as we know it- it is pretty phenomenal.

As for the group in the picture above?  I can only imagine how hard it would have been to get all these ladies together without social media. I am very glad to have made these connections again. It is good for me. I tend to be on the introverted side. (I know what you are thinking friends – yes I can talk a lot but I am still introverted! Read this perfect post on being Introverted by Denise Gainey). I was so nervous to go meet up with these girls- but as soon as I walked into the restaurant the years melted away as did the anxiety. We really had a great time.

I am sure each one of us have stories of finding lost friends, lost loves, and reconnecting with family members on social media(I found cousins I have never met). We hear the news first on Twitter, and got a new job because of Linked In. Most of our children don’t remember a world without social media. Suffice it to say social media isn’t going anywhere. It is just going to grow and evolve. With that comes good and bad things. It will give me headaches sometimes and I will play the give and take app game with my kids. I will have to decide which forms of social media work for me. There is getting to be so much to choose from. And of course where my kids want to go I shall also go so I can keep an eye on them.

As I have been typing this I have been messaged by a new Facebook friend who is teaching me about Essential Oils and from another old friend I haven’t seen in a few years, I have been texting a friend about dinner this weekend and another to offer comfort and prayer while her husband in in surgery. These are connections we wouldn’t have without technology and social media. It really is amazing to me. I like it.



My Like/Dislike Relationship with Social Media (Part 1)

Ah the wonders of technology. When the clocked ticked over to the new
Millennium I had a cell phone and a computer but never would I have guessed that we would have access to phones that could get on the internet, tell us where we are on earth at any given moment, and let us play games to our hearts content. When I got my first smartphone -a blackberry- I was in love. A techie at heart I was enamored with the things these phones could do. And then we got tablets. I was falling all over myself happy!

Then came a little website called Facebook. I wasn’t sure what it was at first. I had seen and also knew of MySpace I figured it was much like those sites and neither of these held my interest so I didn’t take much interest in Facebook at first. At the time I lived in a neighborhood and as other moms began signing up I decided to give it a try. Very quickly I was hooked. As the years have progressed I’ve developed a like/dislike relationship with social media.

In the infancy of social media my kids were too young to be on it. As more social media sites have been born and have blossomed so have my kids. Now I have teens and two use various forms of social media. Many kids flock to social media where they can quickly post a picture or snappy comment and then troll for likes from their friends. What if they don’t get enough likes? Will they be upset? What if someone stalks them or bullies them? It happens- as we know- and I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s exhausting as a parent to try and keep up with protecting our kids. Chatter is everywhere. Pictures fly back and forth like little cyber birds. It’s mind boggling. How do they keep track of it all?  Why are they so brazen with things they post? I don’t even think the answer is that complicated. They have never lived in a world without social media.

It seems the norm these days is to “talk” with friends over text or on social media and I think this isn’t teaching our kids how to deal with things face to face.  My daughter told me that one of her friends was upset with someone at school and I asked her if her friend was going to talk to her friend. “She will text her I guess”. She said. These are people who see each other in school every day. Why not sit down for a chat at lunch? I suppose it is easier to deal with an issue sometimes if we can just type our words and not actually have to look at a person in the eyes. But that is not teaching our kids true communication. We know it’s easy to type something and hit send before we consider our words. It’s easy because you don’t have to face the person you are communicating with.

I feel kind of sorry for our teens today. They aren’t learning certain social skills because social media is their virtual social life. That world has much different “rules of etiquette” than the real world.  You can be hurt because your friend blocks you from her account without telling you why, people can share your pictures, your private texts, and say unkind things at the touch of a button. Our kids can get hurt. We want to protect our kids from being hurt by others and from hurting themselves. I feel like I am running a race and sometimes I am a step ahead of my kid but lots of times I feel a step behind.

This is where my relationship with social media turns to dislike. The very thing I love -technology- has become a menace to me because I have children and it is another place where I need to try to protect them. I have seen the good and the bad of social media and as an adult I hope that I am mature enough to filter out the bad things, not get caught up in nasty conversations and I know I am not sending out questionable pictures of myself. But our kids are just learning…they don’t have the skills yet to always make the right choices. Hah many adults don’t either!

I know I have choices. I could choose not to allow my kids to have access to social media. I even have one teen that is not on it yet. He is not ready and thankfully is not interested. But I take the approach that when I think they are ready I will allow them to signup for one account on some form of social media. I know their user names and passwords and I tell them I have the right to check up on them and if there is a big issue I will remove their account. As they use their account wisely I allow them to get other accounts on social media…which means I have an account too!

I want my kids to learn how to use social media appropriately. I want them to see what is good about it and what is bad. I don’t think it is going away anytime soon. They are going to get hurt sometimes and sometimes they will make bad choices- it comes with being a teen – no parent is going to be able to stop it no matter how hard we try. But darn it I am going to try…darn social media! Bah humbug to technology!…nah just kidding – nothing can take the love of technology out of me…not even my teens!

Thanks for reading…(Part 2 – why I love social media – coming soon)

Some info on social media for parents (written by teens):

Part 1 

Part 2