Social Media – What has it done to us?

The scene is set:

It’s a week night and it’s dark inside the home besides one lamp. There is a pile of dishes to be put in the dishwasher, there are clothes on the dryer to be put away and crumbs on the floor to be swept. And the next thing you see is a person comfortably laying on the couch with their favorite blanket scrolling through social media. This individual is cycling through all their social media platforms and oblivious to anything around them. It started with Facebook, seeing the notifications of people liking their posts. They scroll through their newsfeed for anything that catches their eye. They become bored and switch to Instagram. They look through a few posted stories and maybe click the heart on something they appreciate. Then they watch a few reels and are sucked into watching influencers share product sales, people doing crazy stunts or the dog singing while playing the piano. The individual then cycles to the next social media platform. A few minutes has quickly morphed into hours and then it’s time for bed without any of the household chores being done. Enter into the scene; loneliness, anxiety and stress of a messy household and tasks not being completed. What has social media done to this person?

Social media consumes all of us in some capacity and the impact is astounding of how many minutes (even hours) is consumed by scrolling. Our brains are constantly switching from watching something funny, reading about something that hits your ‘feels’ from a sad story and then you’re back to being happy as your favorite brand has an amazing sale for a product you love. ‘Buy now’ and the package will be on your door step in 2 days. As a human, we are quickly transitioning our emotions without having the chance to decompress anything before moving to the next topic.

Today, we are living in a world of instant gratification with a shorter attention span. Currently, our attention span is 8.25 seconds, which is 4 seconds shorter than in 2000. If something doesn’t capture our attention span within 8 seconds, we have already checked out and ready to move on. How does this translate to our interactions with other people? A person has 8 seconds to make an impactful conversation piece so they will clue into the conversation before checking out? The question then becomes, can a true connection be made in such a short amount of time. Businesses also need to take this into consideration from their social media strategies as well.

Male hand with classic stopwatch. (XXL-File)

In an article from Forbes, technology advances are to help us stay connected with others. We click, like, share, see the perfect pictures, and share a belief we have or weigh in on our political views all hidden behind a screen. Social media keeps us connected, however, the definition of connected has lost it’s context. My professional experience as a recruiter shows that individuals are struggling to have a conversation with another person, even if it’s about the weather or traffic delays. If the individual is bored within a conversation they automatically will look for their phone (or anything else) to be able to fill void. They don’t know how to engage back to the person once the original question has been answered. This leaves an awkward feeling for everyone involved.

Social media can also bring a sense of loneliness. Without having the opportunity to actually talk with another person, the individual is unable to express their thoughts/feelings and their emotions are continually hidden. When an individual likes a picture or a story, they are not able to tell why they like it to anyone. Even if they comment why they like it, the engagement back may not be there and if there is engagement its a reply back in the social media platform and not an actual call. The individual is looking to be heard/recognized and then may engage in social media banter that is negative, demeaning, bullying or worse. They will get the conversation they are looking for, but it may not be what was needed in these lonely situations. Mental health then starts to weigh in and that in entirely different topic to be addressed.

Then we look to the marketing and advertising side of shortened attention spans. A business needs to be on the leading edge of the trends in order to stay relevant. The hashtag this morning that is trending will more than likely not be the trending hashtag that night. Fluidity and being able to adapt to quickly is now the strategy of businesses while also keeping mind their audience for their products and the overall vision of the organization. Their brand on social media is what builds their followers and entertaining posts are what keep the customers coming back. In the world of stories and reels, 8 seconds can be the longest and shortest amount of time in the same breath.

Social media has provided a window of opportunity to learn new things, interact with others we have never met with the same interests, and share our thoughts to the world. It has also changed how humans connect. Social media impressions have 8 seconds to engage new followers and keep followers engaged. It has also brought disconnect in a time of the greatest amount of connections ever. Social media has changed us and it will continue to change us until the definition of connectedness matches what we need as human beings.


4 thoughts on “Social Media – What has it done to us?

  1. The way you caught my attention from the start was remarkable. It drew me a clear picture of what was going on and reminded me of myself at times. Thank you for the facts and all the transparency.


  2. Your intro is amazing, had me hooked, and its very well written. Its hard to think about the negitive effects until you reap them!


  3. You astonished me with the introduction, which was incredible, and I was equally surprised by the information you shared. It is also quite factual and well-done.


  4. Wow, great post! I did a blog on a similar topic, but yours blows mine out of the water! That intro was both sad but true as I think it is far more accurate than many of us would like to admit. Great job!


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