We know the benefits of social media. But there’s also a dark side. Here are some of the cons of social media as I’ve used it and witnessed how others have used it:
- It dumz dwn langwaj. This is just a personal observation, but text messaging and Twitter have destroyed spelling, syntax, and grammar. I know my use of language ain’t perfect at times, but this phenomenon is ridiculous. With only 140 characters, a Twitter post should help us wrestle for the best wording possible. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened. Yes, there are times that the limits of Twitter force us to abbreviate words, but substituting “tyme” for “time” saves no characters and only further butchers the language. Now I’ll get off my soap box.
- Anyone can publish anything. This is another personal observation. With the explosion of MySpace music and other music publishing sites, any person with a decent computer and music editing software could get their “music” out. While this new technology has made it possible for new artists to be discovered, it’s also allowed your cousin (who swears she sounds like Beyonce) to publish audio garbage. The same goes for writing. Not everyone writes well. Not everyone has something worthwhile to say. Yet, thousands of people write and publish drivel every day.
- It’s a poor substitute for real community. Instant messaging, text messages, forums, and comments are not a substitute for real personal interaction with other people. Yet, for many people, Facebook has become their community. They spend hours reading status updates, commenting, “liking”, and searching for new “friends.” In the meantime, they’re starving that part of themselves that God designed for real, raw community.
- It can waste massive amounts of time. We can spend time reading too many blogs. We can waste too much time updating our statuses. We can lose hours playing hundreds of “games” on Facebook. All the while, life passes us by.
- It feeds or deflates the ego. Every person on Facebook has felt the need to inflate their friends count. They see people with 500, 600, or even 1,000 or more friends, and something inside them sparks jealousy that they only have 250 friends. The same can be said for blogs. Blog authors search for the best strategies to increase their readership. They get depressed when their readership drops from the previous month. I’ve read blogs of people who say they’re unplugging from social media for a time. I finished the post feeling like it was still about them (“Look at me. I’m addicted to social media. Now I’m going to rehab. But I’ll be back.”). This hasn’t been the case for everyone, but a few. I actually think what I posted last week about taking a week off from blogging may have come off that way. Crap…
- Cyber bullying. There have been several high-profile cases of kids and parents using social networking to bully another person. It’s even resulted in death.
- We’re plugged in 24/7. With all social media outlets available on our iPhones, Droids, and Crackberries, we’re connected at all times. I bet most of us would be shocked at how much time we spend looking at other people’s statuses on our phones. As a result, time that could be spent with friends, kids, and spouses is wasted on scrolling through an endless sea of code. Sounds a bit like The Matrix to me.
Even as I write these things, I notice ways that social media has entangled me in its web. So what are we to do? I’ll wrap up the series tomorrow.
In the meantime, how have you given yourself to the “dark side” of social media?