What Does Social Media Obsession Say About Us?

What Does Social Media Obsession Say About Us?

Digital designer Tim Brown from Minneapolis Web Design says social media is now an addiction, but what does it indicate about our inner selves? Find out in his musings here.

Tim Brown
Posted by Tim Brown

What happens when I have a good thought, and immediately think… That’s tweetable. Not that long I ago, I thought in Facebook posts occasionally, and it sort of disturbed me. At this point in the game, for some reason I’m immune to caring, or thinking of “Post-thoughts”, (I’m coining this term right now) as in any way negative.

Is this like some kind of mental disease that’s taken over our culture?

Social media obsession slowly eating away at the fabric of society til one day every Miley Cyrus video is going to carry more weight than news of another Iraqi invasion? Well… whether that will happen or not is beyond me.

But I do know that the obsession goes farther back than the dawn of social media and past the dawn of the internet. It goes back to the very root of our lizard-brain desire to fit in. Outcasts get less meat after a hunt, outcasts might be disloyal to a clan, we all have to act with our best interests in mind.

To keep our best interests in mind in a social environment we need to connect with the people in our tribe and create connections that will carry us through the tough times.

We like to think people care about our shares, but do they?

I went on a trip a couple of years ago, and didn’t interact with any social media and remember coming back to a place with a computer and being like, ‘What did people do without me here?’ Of course they cared very little, and likely didn’t bat an eye while I was gone.

We’re of course on social media for ourselves, and everyone else plays a somewhat secondary role, to say the least. Of course if they all were not on there it wouldn’t provide us with the mirror to bounce off our thoughts and experiences and thus would lose some of it’s meaning.

What if every connection on social really matters

But, what if it our social media obsession says we’re really just looking for connection. What if it’s all real? What if every tweet exchanged and blog comment is a legitimate interaction with a real live human being, enriching our lives when it’s positive and constructive. We don’t have to have such a harsh stance on social media obsession if that’s the case.

Or, perhaps it’s just part of a longer discussion going back to MTV, the sixties and the roaring twenties where fads come in and people conform, and the conversation becomes a bit egocentric because every hipster wants a platform, and to get his ideas out into the world.

The snake-oil traveling salesman of the 1780’s is the much maligned social media salesman of today. “I’m the expert!” they scream, their websites looking like they fell out of someone’s pocket in 2002.

The human element has always been there, before blog posts, there were magazine articles and books, and every author thought of a good way to turn a phrase and got on his typewriter and click-clacked it out there. It just took a little while for his idea to get out to the public, and for the feedback to come in.

But some feedback would inevitably roll in and the dopamine would gush into his neural cortex. ‘Ahhhhhh, thank you for response’ he could humbly say. Now we favorite it, we get a little bleary eyed at every Re-tweet. We’re all authors now. We all can stand by our roster of Tweets and Facebook posts, and Instagram photos and say, ‘This is me, I matter.’

Can a post or tweet be a respectable artistic and creative expression?

The posts can partly be just a broader experience of the creative experience as well, not just an extension of the writer’s experience. The role they can serve can somewhat be akin to a graphic or web design creation, a snippet of creativity injected out onto the broader web.

I heard someone on a podcast recently say that his wife crafts Facebook posts in a way that is somewhat unique, that she gets a crazy amount of interaction and it’s literally remarkable how interesting and funny people find them.

This has encouraged her to pick up writing and is now considering writing a blog, and perhaps a book one day because of all the positive reactions she’s gotten.

Setbacks in social obsession

I personally, also know what it feels like to suffer small defeats in the battlefield of social media. Have you ever posted something on Facebook that you’re extremely proud of, only to see it go ‘like-less’ for two hours, only to be liked by your mom in an epic blaze of social media embarrassment?

This after some trivial thing a day before got 10 likes without having taken any work on your part whatsoever?

Business Facebook pages these days are almost impossible to rev-up unless you have a fun or sexy product or service, or you do advertising or promoted posts. In the end I think what my marketing mentor told me is highly correct: If it has to do with someone’s pocketbook or something they’re extremely interested in, they’ll read your thousand words, but if it isn’t compelling they won’t read 100.