While our teenagers have been born and raised as a social media generation, middle-aged people have had to learn how to integrate it into our lives. We have adjusted, but it hasn’t been easy. There are still a number of realities about social media that have the power to make us absolutely bonkers. See how many of these ten you can relate to:
1. The Bait and Switch
You can be sure that the minute you get comfortable with the interface of your favorite social media platform, they will issue an update. Everything you loved will be gone and will be replaced by features that you will never use. And you will hate them for it.
2. The Forgotten Username
Face the reality that the bulk of your time spent online will be trying to remember your username/password combinations. (Does this one require a special character? Did I use my email address or the username that I created back in 2003?) This may lead to violence against your device or a complete mental breakdown.
3. Clunky Thumb Syndrome
When you type something meaningful for social media on your smartphone, there is about a 2 in 3 chance that your fat fingers are going to push a button that deletes it before you send it. There is a 1 in 3 chance it will happen again when you rewrite it. This, too, leads to potential violence against your smartphone.
4. Twitter Wordiness
You’re not witty and snarky enough to use Twitter. Plus, at your age you’ve never been able to form a meaningful thought in less than 500 words, much less 140 characters.
5. Old Fart Disorder
According to your kids, you’re too old to be on Snapchat. Apparently, there’s some unwritten rule that only cool celebrities and teenagers are allowed. There is one exception: PG-13 sexting with your spouse. (I'm not endorsing this, but if you do it, you'll get no judgment from me.)
6. The AARP Requirement
You’re also too young for Facebook. It should only be used by old people who want to see pictures of their grandchildren. You can also use it to post political commentary in hopes of changing everyone else’s mind about their stance on current issues. Because people read posts on Facebook and change their perspective on their deep-seated beliefs all the time. Sure.
7. Presbyopia (Look it Up)
You can’t use Instagram very well because your eyes have started going bad and you can’t take an in-focus picture for the life of you. Plus, choosing between all those filters is waaaaay too stressful. Do those filter names have secret meanings that you don’t know? Who is Ludwig? What is a Clarendon? Oh, forget it.
8. Too Many Platforms
When someone sends you an important message, there will be times that you can’t, for the life of you, remember which platform they sent it though. Was it a text, a Facebook message, a Twitter PM, an email, or something else you have? You might spend 15 minutes tracking down a two sentence message. It makes me think that Ryan from The Office was on to something when he came up with “Woof.”
9. Being Left Behind
Even if you are in your mid-forties and it has been 5 or 6 presidential administrations since your adolescence, seeing pictures of events that other people went to (and you weren’t invited to) can turn any of us into an 8th grade girl. Why do we never grow out of that?
10. Facebook Friend Distortion
According to my Facebook profile, I have 2,397 friends. I’m very popular. This number lets you know that I have meaningful and substantial connections with literally thousands of people. But in our social media world, how may of those friends am I actually in community with? It is too easy for us to let shallow interactions online replace a few meaningful relationships that make our lives better. The absence of this is affecting us…and not for the good. I previously wrote in detail about this in How Facebook is Making You Lonely, Dishonest, and Miserable.
BONUS: Reading the Wrong Things
For me, a blogger who uses social media to promote meaningful content, this is a unique frustration. Nothing drives me more nuts than posting something that I truly believe has the power to change lives, and then few people like, comment, or share it. Then, I post a cat video, a snarky comment, or a link to something completely meaningless and everybody goes crazy over it.
I could go on a middle-aged rant and declare that this is a reflection of the shallow nature of people today, but I know that’s not entirely true. We often scan social media as a form of entertainment. We want to laugh, escape, and enter a stress-free world. Sometimes, heavy issues get in the way of that.
But as one who is easily distracted by my Facebook wall or Twitter feed, may I suggest that we could all use a few less shallow encounters on social media and a few more deep thoughts to register in our minds. We need more contemplation, critical thinking, and Spirit-filled reflection that brings about change in our lives.
If our teenagers are already addicted to that world (and many are), let’s not make the mistake of being like them. Let us strive to keep a measure of sanity as we interact online and encourage our kids to do likewise. Let’s maintain meaningful face-to-face friendships that stretch our faith and our lives. If we don’t, it is the equivalent of eating so much candy that we don’t have an appetite for the real nutrition our bodies need.
And I would really appreciate it if someone would invent that “Woof” thing from the video above. That would truly help me out.
Q. What about social media has the power to make you a bit crazy?