Has social lost its sparkle for those behind the scenes?
Social media has its perks. It connects us, facilitates new friendships and allows us to express ourselves and our creativity. For many people, it’s their careers, too – whether that’s as social media managers, influencers or the tech wizards behind the platforms.
But, there is an underlying sinister side. Why buy brands?
Some people don a mask of anonymity when they’re on social media, using it as an outlet to be cruel online. It’s also where users spend hours upon hours, with their thumbs running marathons on their screens to feed their addictions.
Keep in mind that social media is designed to make you addicted. Platforms are crafted to give users dopamine hits when someone likes or comments on their content, thus encouraging users to create more content to get even more likes and comments. It’s a vicious cycle and not an easy one to escape from.
‘Never get high on your own supply’
Lots of people who create social media platforms don’t use their own platforms. For example, Mark Zuckerberg reportedly doesn’t use Facebook himself. Instead, he has a team of people updating his social profiles for him and perfectly orchestrating every post. Even Apple co-founder Steve Jobs admitted to limiting how much his kids can use technology by setting time limits on their devices and not allowing them to have phones until they were fourteen.
What do the social media moguls know that other people don’t?
Whilst there are plenty of influencers spreading positivity and using their platforms for the good (Marcus Rashford springs to mind), that isn’t the case for all influencers. Perhaps those who work in social media can see through the facade – we see the reality behind ads and influencers. We know some influencers care more about the paycheck than promoting a genuinely good product. And when so much of our feeds are ads rather than content from people you know, it’s hard to escape the bombardment.
In 2019, BBC Three exposed influencers who auditioned to promote a new drink containing cyanide. The influencers involved spent zero time researching the product they were about to advertise to the masses and unknowingly, they were prepared to encourage people to purchase and drink poison.
However, there is still weight behind the micro-influencers – they tend to have better engagement and returns for ads and still manage to maintain an air of genuineness with viewers. A study by Collective Bias found that 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger. Even if micro-influencers are in it for the money (which I don’t believe they all are), there’s a perception that they are trustworthy and more likely to vet the products they’re recommending.
Online vs offline social lives
For those in the business, maybe it has little to do with ads, but more so as a result of our addictions or lack of boundaries regarding screen time. We live and breathe social media in our work lives, and then when we consume it in our personal time, too, we’re swallowed by the virtual world.
Working and living online also doesn’t leave much room for other topics of conversation. Offline interactions are often centred around online topics such as, “did you see what they posted on Twitter last week?”. Are genuine interactions about the real world becoming more difficult as the online and offline world blend into one?
Is social media killing literature?
Worryingly, studies show that attention spans are reducing as a result of consuming TikTok’s short video content, and personally, I find it much harder than ever before to remain focused on books and storylines that develop over 300 or so pages.
I’m not alone, either. TGI Consumer Data from Kantar Media found that 53% of adults in the UK read a book in 2019. Not only was this a decrease from the prior year, but it also suggests that almost half of UK adults didn’t read a single book that year.
But, it’s a two-way street. More people than ever are reading books digitally and #BookTok currently has 52 billion views on TikTok. Tweets may only be 280 characters, but haikus still have their place in the literary world despite being no more than 17 syllables.
While social media isn’t considered ‘proper’ literature, maybe it should be. It has all the components of great literature – it sparks conversation, allows for collaboration and inspires others. It’s the latest stage in the evolution of communication and language and it’s a new way of expressing ourselves. With libraries rapidly closing down, it could be the next best way to encourage people to engage with the arts.
So, what’s next?
If we work in social media and decide to go cold turkey and deactivate personal profiles, how will it affect our ability to do our job well?
This entirely depends on how much your work relies on being in the loop and on top of the latest trends. A solution could be to run a ‘ghost’ account, never posting but keeping up to date with the latest trends with the added benefit of still being able to interact with your friends and family. Or maybe, the answer is plain and simple – to keep up to date and balance our personal and professional demands, we need to treat them as separate entities. Boundaries and self-discipline are required – both of which I am still yet to master.
There’s one thing I know for sure – those of us who work in social media need to use it with intent. When social media feels draining, we need to fill our cups with the best of the online world and there’s plenty of good out there (see this duck in a coffee mug? It made my entire week). We need to make sure we’re creating content that we’re proud of, is purposeful and genuine.
In the words of ifour, we need to create clever.