Keep Running by Tenry Andry.
Tumblr...Pinterest...Facebook...Instagram...Twitter...Snapchat...Flickr...With the constant development of the social media, are we conscious of its constant growth in taking-over the present reality and the very nature of "social interaction" that we value for thousands and thousands of years?

Gary Turk showed us how we are unconsciously getting trapped deeper and deeper in the infinite world of social networking  and its facades of social acceptance, popularity and interpersonal connection. How have our definitions of "being connected" change throughout this decade? It is quite surprising to know that Facebook, a 2008 social networking debutee was originally founded to be a networking platform for school students and teachers. Obviously, what has evolved from this small community of "junior academics" is way beyond anyone's expectations, or even Mark Zuckerberg himself! Facebook has exploded into a multi-corporate, global networking channel where not only individuals connect, but also where companies embed their influence on the general public's culture and lifestyle. I believe it is no coincidence that God let me choose alcohol marketing on social media as my latest media research topic. Obviously, the virtual world of "social media" has evolved into an all-encompassing, multi-level world that has infiltrated into its users' thoughts and actions. I am not saying Facebook is a bad thing (I am an avid user of this giant network after all...) but it is a serious issue that we need to be concerned with. And no, it's not just Facebook, but other networks such as Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest have combined altogether to form a sea of never-ending social chatter. Everyone is connected with everybody else from anywhere at anytime. At first, this really does sound a fantastic idea. All of us are so caught up in it, that we spent more time looking through our phones and Facebook notifications, chats or Twitter interactions than talking to our parents about our day at school or uni during dinner time. 

What made us so caught-up, so irrevocably immersed in this world called social media? How does it become such a significant and prominent player in our lives? We know it's there and all the basic theories underlying excessive social media exposure. It takes away your time. It isolates and traps you in the virtual world. It is slowly making the world an antisocial place with its social-hype facade. it is addictive. It is dominating and obsessive. However, does knowing these things guarantee that we will be more cautious of the information shared over the net?

Well, definitely not for me. I knew how influential and dominating Facebook is. To add to that, it is always running in the background whenever I am online, or whenever I turned on my computer. And so do Twitter, Tumblr...and this blog! Constantly surrounded by social media, I felt such an urgent need to spill things over the net in the past, including disappointments, complaints, and sometimes frustration. You know those really emotional Facebook status updates that got people divided between clicking the 'Like' button, showing sympathy over comments, or showing sympathy and curiosity and all ('what happened?s') through personal messages. When I looked over my old FB 'archives', I realized how Facebook has made me so transparent, so reliant in telling others and the whole wide world my feelings, thoughts and actions. It made me highly reliant on the virtual media network to communicate and interact with the people I know and taking away the focus of true social interaction. Haven't you heard of the shocking trend of phone dates, where two lovers meet-up for dinner and ended up spending most of their time getting so absorbed on their Facebook notifications or Instagram on their mobile phones instead of looking intently into their lover's eyes and discussing the most important matters face-to-face. I really love how the image below reflects on our generation's dependence upon social media, its existence and function in mediating and defining our identity and relationships.

How many friends do you have on Facebooks? Most people would invite countless users to be their friends once they signed up for an account. New users' profiles typically experienced that moment of friendship hype, where the number of friends jumped from 10 to hundreds such as 200-300 friends in a single week! Truth is, how many of those 200/300 friends are our real friends? Social media has defined one's popularity via the means of their Facebook profile page and friend count. If you have lots of friends (e.g. 700+), you must be utterly popular. If you have very little, you must be antisocial or socially awkward. Oh no, it doesn't just stop there. If you have 1000+ friends but in-reality, people don't see you as overly charming, outgoing or charismatic, you might be labelled as a Facebook obsessee. The social connotations that define people positively or negatively never ends and this is just based on Facebook's friend count. What about Twitter and the notifications you get? The sort of people you @'d or #-tagged? The groups you joined and the sort of content you post? In Tumblr, the type of blogger you are: Hipster, Fandom or just pretty-life stuff, and what broader implications these have in defining your character as a person in reality. In actual truth, social media has created a set of norms and rules for people to interact. It created restrictive boundaries that limit users, both you and me, from expressing who we truly are inside to the people around us. Yet the most concerning issue is how we are all doing very little or nothing to prevent its growing influence in infiltrating our personal lives and how we see the world in perspective. 

The real question is not about knowing the ways to combat the uncontrolled sprouting of social network domination is, but whether we are willing enough to step up and do something radical in-order to stop this virtual network from changing our perspective towards ourselves and others in this world. Big changes require drastic measures and I believe that's what we lack. Sometimes all it takes is to pause a moment, close those tabs and focus on your homework, assignments or study for a little while. Putting that phone away from arm's reach and on silent mode. Sometimes it takes you to look up and around and dare yourself to create positive social interaction with those around you. 

The world is not getting better with how social media is progressing. After all, the cost of more information in social networking does not guarantee that our children will be this smart ↓ before they hit primary school right? We are constantly surrounded with information but that does not mean good information, educational information, encouraging or positive support. Yes we are bombarded with information and updates, but does that mean we can gain meaningful advice  by the click of a finger? Social media places more restrictive boundaries in its users' lifestyles more often than it gives positive encouragement. Think about the most recent time when an embarrassing video of a silly public misconduct went viral on Youtube, then on Facebook. Yes, there were embarrassing and offensive videos of young teenagers on schoolies getting drunk and doing things they would never do when sober. The click of a button on a video recorder combined with Youtube and/or Facebook's powerful video uploading service made it possible for the world to see an outrageous footage that immediately shames the drunken teenagers on a global scale. Privacy, once lost, can never be regained. How would the teeangers involved in the footage feel after seeing their shocking behaviours all taped and recorded on Youtube? How would their parents and loved ones feel?
The Young Entrepreneur by David Kelly
If you haven't, this video created by Gary Turk is a must-watch! Deep and meaningful, the short five minutes or so really changed my perspective and awareness on how social media's evolved through time. 

Don't let the Internet take-away meaningful moments and time God has ordained in your life simply because of your constant need to stay updated with the latest feeds online. Let's all step up and take back what's been lost. Make the active decision to ask people for directions instead of Google Map-ping, ask questions face-to-face instead of personal messaging and showing that you truly care for a friend by going over to them and treating them coffee for a catch-up chat. Sometimes going back to the old traditional ways of communicating really does all of us good in the long run. You'll never know of how much benefits you can reap out of it. More confidence, more meaningful talks, more insight and less social awkwardness. It really does us good. 100% Positive!

Lots of love,


Maira Gall