Use social media wisely

In today’s technological society, social media has become an inescapable force that constantly keeps us in touch with the surrounding world. Like most people my age, websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube engulf most of my time, especially during the late hours of the night before a midterm exam or when my attention wanes considerably during a lecture.

So this is a fact: social media isn’t going anywhere and it’s just going to get bigger, quicker and more accessible. Even if you try to avoid it and understand its time-wasting capabilities, it’s ingrained in the social interaction we have with others.

Yes, we should embrace the overwhelming power of social media. But we must also use it properly.

From what I experience on these sites, it has become, at times, a realm of complete nonsense and a forum full of narcissistic and self-deprecating remarks.
Facebook, in particular, is becoming more and more unbearable to visit, with people complaining excessively about the most tedious and mundane aspects at life, particularly about school and how much it “sucks.”

And most of the time, it’s a cry for attention — even if you post something without that intent.

It’s also notoriously good at creating the “15 minutes of fame” for many non-deserving individuals, such as the menace that is Charlie Sheen or the abominable sounds of Rebecca Black. As well, it can spread pointless trends such as “planking” (sorry, I just don’t quite get it). In the end, people become intertwined in things that don’t have any merit.

But with the recent limited release of Google +, this means that social media is growing even bigger and — with the large corporation that is Google — our lives will be more public.

The cool thing about Google + though is that you have the ability to create various “circles” of people you know, and you get to choose which circle you would like to see updates from, and which circles can view your posts.

However, this won’t necessarily revolutionize social media; people will still post whatever they want and it’s just a matter of ignoring it.

Unlike how people conduct themselves in real life and public spaces, there is no etiquette regarding online behaviour. If you were to spend time with someone, would you show them all the cell phone photos you took of yourself in front of a mirror, use improper grammar while telling a joke and then proceed to recite song lyrics about your lost love?

Maybe you would, but the point is, don’t abuse social media. We can all be guilty of the things I’ve mentioned, including myself. But don’t be excessive, and it’s not always a bad idea to close the laptop or to put down the phone and find some other outlet to release your minor frustrations.

Regardless, social media is useful for spreading knowledge, especially current events. Twitter is great for finding out news, sports updates and even discovering what our politicians do on a regular basis.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have some friends on Facebook who post videos of a cool band or intriguing and insightful TED talks. Even ridiculously funny YouTube clips aren’t bad once in awhile.

Also, it can bring people together for common causes and be used to spread awareness, especially for political causes.

There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional update of your life, or posting some photos of your trip to the Bahamas — just keep everything in moderation.

The digital world is becoming more prevalent, so behave like you would as if
these people were next to you. Let’s go back to the original purpose of social media: being social and spreading ideas.

It appears that every platform on the Internet today is some variation of social media, so let’s use this tool to interact with each other, not annoy one another.
It’s exciting, and at the same time slightly frightening, to imagine where this technology will take us and how much of it will actually change the landscape of society.

But, if we continue to be self-absorbed then the future isn’t looking so bright.
Maybe I’m just being cynical, maybe not. I have friends who deleted their Facebook profiles just because they couldn’t handle it anymore, but had to bring it back because they were just completely out of the “loop.” Google + is a bit cooler, but it won’t dramatically change the way social media is, or nearly get as big as Facebook.

So please act like normal people online and don’t annoy me because I personally like the innovation that is social media.

And for once, please do not use “your” when you intend to use “you’re” — we all know you completed grade three spelling.

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