“I don’t use social media because I don’t want to tell people what I had for breakfast,” declare social media haters.
“I don’t use Facebook because I don’t care enough about the minutiae of other people’s lives to bother reading it,” they say with the dismissive snottiness of people who refuse to own a TV.
I’m always annoyed by people who just outright dismiss social media as a place where people talk about breakfast, bathroom habits, and life’s inanities, despite the fact that they have never used it.
I read a recent article — Academics and Colleges Split Their Personalities for Social Media — where several commenters proudly crowed about their dislike for social media, and declared it inane and useless. (Hat tip to my friend Anthony Juliano for a great response.)
One of the comments by “transparentopaque” caught Anthony’s and my attention:
I do not have a Facebook or Twitter account. So, I have nothing to worry about. I have yet to figure out what anybody could possibly have to say via Twitter that I absolutely need to read. Is anyone’s life really that interesting? Yes, but only those people who do not waste their time posting on social media networks. Life is happening, and many people today are wasting it away talking about it. Instead of living in the moment, people are analyzing every aspect of their life to determine its suitability as a Facebook status update.
I’ve determined that it isn’t really the “sharing” that drives people to social media, it is the sense that they have a captive audience. But that is only an illusion. Few people participate in order to read what others have to say; they participate in order to have a forum in which they can hear themselves speak. Narcissism has finally found its place in this world.
The problem with “transparentopaque’s” attitude and practice is that as someone who does not use social media, he/she has no way of knowing how other people are using it.
We see this with business owners all the time. “Our customers don’t use social media.” But they have no way of knowing this for certain, since they never use it.
It’s like saying “no one visits that restaurant because I’ve never been there.”
And yes, I was struck by the irony of someone asking whether anyone’s life is interesting, and then declaring social media to be “a forum in which they can hear themselves speak,” in the comments section of a website — another form of social networking.
I always get agitated by people who say they’ll never do something, eat something, watch something, or participate in something without ever having tried it. (Although to be fair, I won’t eat mussels after reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. And yes, I have eaten them before. But if the guy who has an entire TV show about eating nearly anything on the planet won’t eat them, it’s probably a good idea to avoid them.)
If you don’t try something, how do you know you won’t like it. If you don’t use Twitter or Facebook, how do you know what people are using it for?
Of course, there are always those people who say “I don’t need to try heroin to know it’s bad for me.”
True, but Facebook isn’t heroin. One is an addictive experience that will open up new worlds to you while at the same time isolating you from friends and family, and the other is an illegal narcotic.
But unless you’ve tried Facebook or Twitter for a while (at least a month, for 20 minutes a day), you don’t know enough about it to dismiss it without looking like a myopic, close-minded curmudgeon who still thinks TV is a passing fad.