Taking the Leap into Social Media is a Lot Like Having a Child, I’m Sure
You think, in joining Social Media you will be sucked down into a vortex of self absorption and emulation for a proxy-self, something that you may have spawned but now has a demanding, poopy schedule of its own you are enslaved to.
That happens at first. Or rather, after those first panicked weeks when you check your Facebook status and @mentions dreadingly, but also impatiently, to find over and over it’s wielded nothing. Then you start listening to the others, seeing how they bbq-ed with neighbors last weekend, or ranted about the latest post on Wildalksky (and you wouldn’t have even seen it if it weren’t for this account!). You begin to wield not just the RT but the MT. You DM the Dean. Baby steps to toddler steps. Buy-in begins.
So there is a phase—three months, three years—when you are the self-absorbed schmuck you feared you would be. The vast ocean of the Internet has become merely a mirror to hold yourself up to. It matters that your high school sweetheart thumbed-upped your t-shirt bargain find. You’re really frowning as you post your unhappyface in the comments section of a friend’s status update on the dog. :( You count your followers, checking and rechecking. If you could, you would Google yourself Googling yourself.
But, like having children, most people move on. The movie gets old, or more precisely, familiar. You realize that the ever-changing landscape of evolving social whateverness keeps rolling when you go on vacation for two weeks to a truly wireless cottage on Lake Michigan. No one greets you when you return from your journey. But neither do they thumbsdown your frown. And those unfollowers? You’ve been known to unfollow a little bit here and there.
And the real point here is that media exists with which to be social, but you are the social medium. Sure, you never read a book the same way again, now periodically pausing to check your e-mail with your phone. It’s not unheard of to tap out an RT from a bathroom stall.
But the whole idea of luxury—appliances, shortcuts, convenience—was that we would have more time to ourselves, to spend hours in our own brains and bodies and feelings at a stretch. Logging into the world of social media, you remain about as social as you always were, and want to be.