I remember the first time I heard of Facebook. Katie, a former student, was graduating from high school, and she popped by Central to say hello. I think she was delivering an invitation to her graduation party. She told me about this site where the freshman at UNO could connect and start to meet each other. It was called The Facebook.
MySpace had appeared the year before, so I knew something about social media. The “kids” were all trying to convince their parents to let them have a MySpace…or they were secretly creating them without their parents knowing.
Then YouTube. Then Twitter. Then Instagram. Then Snapchat. Then TikTok.
We joke that once the parents get on board with a new social media platform, the younger people jump to the next one.
I work with children and young adults. I work on curriculum for digital literacy. I work (now more than ever) in a digital environment. Without our devices and our internet and our ability to work and learn and connect virtually, things would have ground to a halt last spring.
But we all wrestle with how much is too much. I have a friend who left Facebook because the environment had become so toxic. I have another friend who left all social media platforms for her own mental health.
But I also have a friend who has a virtual community of people who can share and appreciate each other’s photography. It is a genuine way for him to share his work with people around the world and for others to share their work with him.
I blog. Without Facebook and Twitter, almost no one would read it. I feel support and encouragement and kindness and love when people interact with me through the blog.
How much social media is right? I can’t answer that for you. I struggle enough to answer it for myself.
But if you have not seen The Social Dilemma on a Netflix, I highly recommend it. It is thought-provoking and will challenge how you interact with social media.
When my daughter searches for a new vacuum while connected to our WiFi and suddenly I have vacuum ads in my feeds, that’s not a coincidence.
When I step in to Scheels and a Dick’s Sporting Goods ad pops up, that’s not a coincidence.
But without TikTok, thousands and thousands of people would never have encouraged my daughter to share more stories about her pregnancy with triplets after she posted a funny story.
I guess I don’t have the answer except to say that we should all be mindful and reflective of our online time.
Do you need a break?
Is it lifting you up? Or is it making you angry or depressed?
Monitor and adjust!
And whatever you do, do not ever read the comments under articles posted online. Just don’t do it!