Social Media, is it all bad?

By starting this week’s blog, I would like to ask everyone three questions first:

  1.        Have you ever texted or answered phone calls while talking with a friend face to face?
  2.        Have you ever connected to social media on your phone or any other tablets while in a lecture?
  3.        Have you ever texted or emailed using phones or any other tablets while in a company’s meeting?

For these questions, I may not get a “Yes” to all three, but it is not difficult to get at least one. Why? As it describes in our textbook, Converging Media, one of the problems of information overload “has become commonplace in meetings for participants to text or email while someone is presenting or speaking, and this lessened attention to the speaker has resulted in missed important information and misunderstandings, as well as being considered rude.” Information overload creates distraction and causes missed information, misunderstanding and impoliteness. In some formal meetings at a company, attendees are not allowed to take electronics into the meeting or at least they must put them in silent. In a class lecture, it is considered very rude to answer phone calls in class; some teachers would even give a letter grade down because of this. I had a personally experienced being impolite just among friends. I had my first cellphone when I was in middle school and since then the side effects of information overload started to grow so much that I didn’t even notice this fact until one time in high school. Students from a Japanese partner high school came to my school for a short visit every year. I had a Japanese peer at that time and we talked and exchanged gifts with each other. During our short face-to-face time, we both had phone calls and text message interruptions. I was naturally getting my phone out, answering phone calls or text messages. However, my partner chose to ignore the phone calls first. If the phone kept ringing and it was important, he would ask permission from me to answer the phone. After this exchange, it was the first time that I realized I acted rude toward my international friend and it left a deep impression on me. We can’t get rid of information overload, but we can realize it is a problem and at least we could try to avoid it.

                                      Image

Source: http://snarfed.org/2013-05-31_fighting-information-overload-and-beyond

when I looked through my Facebook, one of the common themes for my friends is sharing photos of daily life with themselves, friends and their family members. I can see them traveling to a new place and how excited they are through the photos. There are also photos sharing about their new haircut, anniversaries, dinner celebrations etc. These are all trivial but it is important to them and to me because all this trivial things we did everyday compose our life bit by bit. It is those seemingly trivial photos that help us remember and cherish what had happened to us and what we experienced with ourselves and people around us. The “technologies of social saturation” allow us to have this opportunity to keep and increase our relationships with people.

Another common theme through Facebook or QQ (the instant messenger I use) is about religion. I had many friends who are Christian.  A lot of times their updating statuses are just the verses taken from the Bible or related to the Bible, and sometimes I share verses as well. I also have friends from other religions and I observed that they share news, stories and verses from their beliefs too. I would consider it  trivial but important because what is  behind the messages are values and beliefs. Even though I am randomly scanning through Facebook, I feel encouraged when I see the verses come into my eyes.  I do see trivial things on different kinds of social media and there are problems going with it such as being easily distracted and hiding true personality of oneself, but I can’t say it is not important at all because there are still some bright sides of social media that make us chuckle at least.

                                      Image

Source: http://www.cover-universe.com/cover-863

Like the picture showed above, I believe that social media has both good side and bad side. Social media can increase relationships among people and share common beliefs and information, but we also suffer from easily being distracted by it.

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