Keeping up with the Joneses – Social Media Style
As I was scanning pictures posted by my facebook friends I came across a new parent that had taken their sub-6-month-old out on a run in a jogging stroller, I thought to myself as I looked over at my 3-year-old playing with his harmonica: “and here I sit.” And of course, as happens a lot in my life — the next day I came across this post in The New York Times Bits Blog: Does Technology Affect Happiness?
The short of the story for lack of time, but make sure to read it for some crucial points:
The answer, in the peer-reviewed study of the online habits of girls ages 8 to 12, is that those who say they spend considerable amounts of time using multimedia describe themselves in ways that suggest they are less happy and less socially comfortable than peers who say they spend less time on screens.
The internet and social interaction are relatively new when you compare it to say — the telephone or even simply talking to one another. Like television when it was introduced, the societal impact of social media and the internet in general is still unknown and in fact, may never be known.
Television, newspapers and the telephone helped create a global community but to have your voice heard, you needed it to be deemed interesting enough to attract the attention from a large portion of the DMA that the local TV station served or the reach of your local newspaper. Daily interactions with neighbors consisted of “hellos” as we passed one another on our way to and from work or in the form of block parties and hangouts. The Joneses were what we saw on TV and discounted as being “too perfect” — or within 10 house radius — or a second cousin twice removed.
Now the Joneses are everywhere and piping their lives into our browsers every nanosecond of the day. Keeping up with the pack no longer means what I see on my street as I drive to work. The pack is now coming to me and they are coming from well beyond my neighborhood. Everyone from the workout kings and queens to the whiners and perfectionists, from the rich and poor to the hunters and vegans are posting their every whim and fancy for me to watch in the comfort of my own home. Where I once only saw the outside of the house — I now see not only the inside, but every room and cobweb as well.
Keeping up with the Joneses just got a lot harder.
I don’t subscribe to keeping up with the Joneses as well as what “normal” is. Trying to keep up with everyone, all the time, would leave me nowhere and unhappy. My focus would be not on one goal — or a few goals — but the goals of everyone I know — and ultimately goals that are not my own.
Is it possible then that young minds can’t make this distinction and “normal” is now more confusing than ever? Is social media creating a mental log of what we don’t have or don’t do? Will social media be around for my 3-year-old?
As I sat there looking at the picture of the happy runner and thinking “here I sit” — my next thought was “good job.”
…and that I ran yesterday.
Image courtesy of Vlado
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