• Patrick McAndrew

My Love-Hate Relationship With Social Media

I feel like I have this love-hate relationship with social media, as I’m sure many of you do. As an actor and as someone who is trying to spread an important message, social media is an incredible tool to get the word out there about my work. All I have to do is create a post on Facebook, and my network of friends know about the latest happenings in my life. In these ways, I feel like I should be on social media. If I didn’t, how would people know about the work I am doing as an actor? How would people know about the SHIPS podcast or about these articles that I write? While there are other mediums I can search out, social media is by far the easiest to use and most accessible to the masses.

There are times, however, when I wish this wasn’t the case. I have thought about deleting my Facebook account many times, but I justify keeping it because it helps me stay in touch with friends and is great for promoting my work. While this may be the case, I can’t help but suffer from the pressure to be on these social media platforms. Society is telling us that we must be on social media in order to thrive, but perhaps I’m just making this up in my head.

Can one find success WITHOUT using social media? I think this is possible, but perhaps much more difficult. But perhaps I’m just making this up in my head. We, as a society, determine the rules. While there are millions upon millions of users that create and consume content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat, etc., there are still many people who opt out of these trendy communities. Many people are voluntary deleting their apps and reporting back greater satisfaction in their lives.

I think a key distinction is where and how we use social media. For those who have the apps on their phone, it becomes incredibly enticing to scroll through and see what the latest and greatest is if you are bored or have even just one minute of down time (look at lines in the grocery store…many people will take out their phones while waiting). We become accustomed to filling out this empty space that we have no empty space left. We make this a habit, so much so that if there are empty spaces within conversations, we will take out our phones and check out social media.

I find that I best utilize social media tools when I access them from my laptop only. While the temptation to scroll still exists, my use feels a bit more intentional than mindless. I’m going on Facebook for a purpose, not necessarily to just pass time.

And I think this is why I am hesitant to fully embrace social media. If I wanted to, I can allow it to consume every minute of my day. I can spend hours on a platform and it will continually refresh to give me up-to-date information to always keep me hooked. That’s scary and there have been several research studies that show that software engineers are designing these platforms to hold our attention for as long as humanly possible. Social media has the power to eat away our time, our most precious resource, and it does this so easily that most of us barely even register how much time passes when down the rabbit hole.

As more and more awareness is being spread about the negative impact that social media and smartphones can have on our brains’ development, we are become much more conscious on how we use our devices. Still, everything happens on them. Everything is still happening on social media, or seemingly everything. We don’t want to miss out on either sharing information going on in our lives or on consuming information going on with others. But at the end of the day we desperately need to ask ourselves how much our use is hurting us and how much it is helping us.

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