Social media have revamped how we see ourselves, as well as how we see ourselves in the eyes of others. We can now gaze into their lives, without coming across as intrusive, and yet we also feel a little uneasy when someone has been ‘stalking’ us, or when someone comments on your wall a little too soon, a little too often.
However who can deny that social media has had positive impacts on all of us? We keep in touch with old friends whom might have been awkward to call and close the drift of time that puts people apart. We might even heard a love match or two between strangers who ‘added’ each other on Facebook randomly and eventually made it to the wedding altar (not randomly of course). Facebook have nudged us, with every improvement to their interface, to take our lives a little more seriously as we upload photographs, update statuses and pindrop our location.
As smartphones help us record minuscule detail of our lives, we also lose a moment in participating in our lives. We don’t necessarily realise that holding a phone in front of our friend, can create a barrier. As we record more, we also interact less with others, or is it a complementary relationship - that as we record, we stop and smell the roses more? Do people actually care that you’ve ‘checked-in’ at a train station? Do we do it for the pleasure of recording a moment in history, or as a form of exhibition to our audience that you’re living a life and have something to prove it? Who are we answering to really?
There are some that reject social media (yes, people without a Facebook or Twitter account still exist). They claim that their lives are better lived “offline”, as they value the privacy of their lives. Some have told me that they feel uncomfortable sharing too much with acquaintances - especially with issues of sexuality and religious beliefs. For instance, I have a friend tell me once that he doesn’t use Facebook because it is quite ‘bo liao’ and still relies on smses to get things done. There are those that find it a waste of their time, filling in those Profile information for friends who already know their likes and dislikes. It can also feel quite personal, if you reject a friend request from your colleagues whom you don’t feel comfortable adding.
Social media is contentious, however much one resist, we cannot deny that it’s influence is precisely built upon sheer numbers. The more people rely on it to arrange events/meet-ups, the more people feel left out and in turn get sucked into the whole ‘online’ community. Are we becoming closer? Or are we becoming increasingly far apart?
One thing that definitely has changed for the better, is the return of photo-taking. Never in our lives before Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram, have we dabbled in photography in such a scale. It seemed to be making a renaissance. People are snatching up DSLRs of all kinds and ranges, toying with cameras and advertising those shots on their walls. What encourages such behaviour even further, is the immediate response you get from others. Photos become the subject for a conversation and to break the ice for those whom we haven’t spoken to in a while. Photos taken by people we know makes it personal and places or things we have heard of does not seem that distant as before. Suddenly taking a memorable or interesting profile picture is all the rage. We are all models as well as photographers and our friends become critics. We never dabbled that much in photography for our own pleasure as before, and we have social media to thank for that.
While we grapple with our ‘online’ lives between living the moment or recording the moment that has passed, social media is essential but not fundamental to our relationships with others. The importance is just to strike a balance. It’s always great to meet up and give some hugs to a friend you haven’t met in a long time.