Snapchat released the above video in November to explain new updates to their app that are geared towards making it easier to use and separating your relationships (your social) from influencers, celebrities, and paid-for content (the media).
While like any other app, Snapchat’s main objective is to get more people using the app more often, they make a good point. As co-founder Evan Spiegel suggests, “your friends aren’t content they are relationships.” That one sentence explains the pitfalls of social media. Instead of building relationships, we often simply consume content with the facade of a relationship. The more we experience relationships in this way, the more we are left feeling isolated and alone.
Facebook recently published research that provides empirical evidence supporting this idea that experiencing relationships as content negatively affects us. They especially discourage idly scrolling through the feed. This negative effect is compounded when most of the content you are seeing is from people you do not know or paid content from businesses. To counteract these negative affects, Facebook announced this week that they will be making changes similar to those that Snapchat made in that they are going to focus your feed more on people you know and content that is more personal to you.
While it is great that these companies are taking steps to improve our experience with social media, it is still largely up to us to make sure that our social media use is healthy. Here are a few tips for doing so:
1. Remember that there is a world outside of social media. Someone’s social media posts do not tell their whole story. So do not fall into the trap of comparing your life to those you see on social media. For more on this see my previous post.
2. For every comment you make, post you share, or conversation you have on social media, try to have a conversation IRL. Connect more with those in front of you.
3. Take time to actively evaluate how social media affects your life. If you find that its negative effects outweigh its benefits, consider placing limits to your social media use. This does not mean that you have to cut it from your life entirely, but perhaps you only use social media during certain times of the day, or only a certain total amount of time during the week. At the very least, you should be aware of the amount of time you spend on social media.
Apps, profiles, and digital media are here to stay and will continue to greatly influence our lives. Much of this influence is positive. However, we need be conscious of the role this technology plays in our life and strike a balance now before Alexa (or Siri) becomes our closest thing to an intimate relationship.