Interesting opinion piece from the New York Times shared with me via email by a friend. The email share to a group fostered some discussion, here were a few words I contributed.
I fluctuate back and forth with regard to the ‘ability to concentrate’ issue. I’ve read articles in the past (that I’m not going to bother to track down now) that argue the opposite, that social media use throughout the day actually provided a ‘break’ for your mind, and allowed you to more fully devote your concentration and focus to your work when you were actually working. I guess the distinction here lies in how often you are actually checking your SM feeds.
A few other quips:
We’ve been told that it’s important to tend to your so-called social media brand, as this provides you access to opportunities you might otherwise miss and supports the diverse contact network you need to get ahead. Many people in my generation fear that without a social media presence, they would be invisible to the job market.
I have 100% felt this pressure, whether real or imagined. And at various times I’ve felt stress about not doing enough with my SM accounts to ‘further my brand’, especially with regard to trying to attract new freelance work or possibly influence those with whom I’ve applied for jobs. Conversely, some days, I come close to closing every account I have because it’s all bullshit. As the author says, any kid can make a shiny, pro-looking website and attract a legion of followers from his basement, doesn’t necessarily make him employable or qualified to do anything.
The more you use social media in the way it’s designed to be used — persistently throughout your waking hours — the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom.
TOTALLY guilty here. Often times when I’m bored or between tasks and should probably do something else, I find myself stagnant, looking for something to do (both at work and at home). This would be predominately when I would hit up social media – as if something I found there was going to provide some sort of ‘spark’ that would get me headed in the right direction. Indeed perhaps the way a junkie needs a fix, I was looking for a nugget of inspiration that I, for whatever reason, couldn’t find elsewhere that would motivate me to do something. More often than not, I would just get lost down some rabbit hole for 15-20 minutes, finally snap out of it and feel even worse for having wasted the time unproductively. Without getting off on a tangent or proselytizing, Zen practice has made huge strides in this regard. When bored or without something to do for a moment, I now no longer struggle with what to do, and have stayed away from SM during these moments more and more consistently. That, combined with things like removing SM apps from my phone, have me checking in less and less and wondering if I could pull out of some or all of my accounts all together, perhaps to my betterment.
I’m coming to see it more as a challenge, and one the author touches on. The fact of the matter is, that SM and indeed ‘online brands/personas’ aren’t going anywhere, and arguably will only increase in presence in scope. How does one opt to not get caught up in that – something a generation like my kids will invariably be completely immersed in – yet still remain relevant and viable?