My Relationship with Social Media: Let’s Get Real.

“Consider this: 24% of respondents to one survey said they’ve missed out on enjoying special moments in person because — ironically enough — they were too busy trying to document their experiences for online sharing.” -Sam Laird, mashable.com

Face it, social media consumes the life Generation Y. It’s what young people like me live, breathe, and consume. Tweets, follows, check ins, and pins. And it’s having a huge impact on their quality of life.

My relationship with social media is like being in a real relationship. Gasp! Fortunately, this relationship does have an “off button.”

Social media and I started dating back in the eleventh grade, when I first learned about it’s beautiful face. It’s face (Facebook) was so attractive, it allowed me to connect with other people we had mutual friends with. I could keep in touch with friends I went to school with, especially those who graduated. Eventually, I used it to meet future friends in college and make those connections. But guess what, I became so consumed that it almost became an obsessions. Status, photos, likes, posts, and beyond.

College came around and social media and I were tight with Facebook. Eventually I became a public relations major and became deeper involved with this relationship. First came Stumble Upon, then Tumblr, followed by Pinterest and Twitter. My relationship became multi-faceted and I was keeping up with every single part of it.

My relationship got real when I received my first iPhone from my (real) boyfriend. This is where my relationship with social media got spicy. The constant stream of tweets and pins evolved into a tangible relationship with social media that kept me wired in 24/7. Sounds pretty unhealthy, right?

Currently, I am going four years with this relationship with social media. It has evolved into something that is a prominent tool in my life as well as something that could affect my future. And I’m not alone. Employers are going to look for candidates who are social media and know how to use it. I agree that applicants should know how to use social media, but I do believe that a line should be drawn of when it and how it should be used.

My relationship with social media has allowed me to learn about public relations and how companies are using it to build relationships with their audiences. I have made connections with people in my field and with companies that I would like to work for someday. This is all great, but when it comes down to it, when we become consumed by these virtual relationships, we forget about the ones that are right in front of us.

It is so easy for me to be wrapped up with my social media relationship and forget about my real-life relationships. There have been times when I hang out with a group of friends and we’re all on our phones checking Facebook, texting, or tweeting. What has the meaning of a real relationship come to?

This is why my relationship with social media has become such a love/hate relationship. I see the value of it completely, but when it comes to the bottom of it, social media is only a tool. Life is happening in front of us everyday. When we block the physical relationships that are in our lives, we are missing out on one of the most beautiful experiences life can offer.

What am I doing to maintain a healthy relationship with social media?

  • When I’m with my friends, I shut it off, put it away.
  • Meetings, class, events – the phone is put away.
  • Refraining from updates like “I ate yogurt for breakfast and fed my dog.”
  • Knowing when it’s time to turn the phone off and tune out from social media.
  • If I have great news, I share it with the people who matter, face-to-face or by phone call.

Luckily, we can turn off social media. We can turn it off and tune in to the real world. This is what I love most about social media. I can use it to build my professional career but I can put it away and go back to square one. Social media is important, but not the most important thing. It’s time to remember where the real value of communication and relationship building is.

How do you feel about your relationship with social media? Does it consume your life or have you found a balance between it and your personal life?

 

 

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