The title of this post is my attempt at paraphrasing a conversation I had with a friend last week. A friend I used to work with, who I no longer see on any kind of regular basis because we live 3-4 states apart now. The idea she was trying to convey was something I think all of us can identify with. We don’t really like what social media companies have done, and are doing. We know that studies show that a lot of social media use can be bad for us, emotionally and mentally. And yet, if we truly just up and walked away from it, how would I keep in touch with my family and friends who are still using it.
Because as much as we now understand that Facebook’s claim to “just want to connect people” was pretty much a lie, (they were much more interested in selling our information and advertising) we still managed to do exactly that on the platform, and we don’t really want to walk away from those connections.
The truth is, for some of us, Facebook is actually a way to keep in touch with old, far away, friends that we didn’t have before. It has allowed us to connect with more people than we otherwise would have, to share photos, videos, and experiences that we didn’t share before.
Yes, too much of it can be a bad thing. Yes, trying to compare our own lives to the “public” lives of others can cause serious anxiety and depression. We know that there’s a lot of negative interactions, harassment, trolling etc. We know that.
We also know that social media can decrease the likelihood of depression in older people with physical limitations. Much like those of us who live far apart from some of the people we care about the most, those of us who can’t get out and socialize as much as we like can augment that with social media. We can actually reach out and interact with other people regardless of our location, or our time constraints. We can celebrate or mourn together. We can learn from each other.
It truly is just about what you choose to pay attention to. Again, we know Facebook is going to try and keep us paying attention to anything they can so we stay on the site, trying to become our go-to news platform, or political platform, and so on. But in the end, we can always choose to use it for what it claimed to be in the first place, to connect us to each other.
That’s why I still have a Facebook account and pages, because the things I have chosen to follow and the people I am connected to are worth more than the stupid things the company does.
I’m still careful about what they know about me though.