It’s no grand secret that a social media company’s directive is twofold: get more users on the site, and get the users who are already on the site staying longer. Every action a publically traded social media company undertakes is designed to accomplish one or both of those goals. But as the social media revolution has inflated these companies’ bottom lines, how has it changed our social lives outside of the internet?
The social media industry itself has been enormously successful over the past decade, perhaps the most successful in all of Tech. And to be sure, it has been partciularly successful in getting more and more social media customers to use their phones to access social media. This is a major sticking point for advertisers, but it has had some drastic societal consequences. The result, as anybody who knows someone who owns a smartphone can attest, has been a massive cultural shift in mores, wherein being buried in one’s phone constantly is not just tolerated, but largely commonplace.
The reaction to this phenomenon is certainly reminiscent of the biggest fears of the Luddite hand-wringers when the telephone appeared, or television, or the internet itself. But the prevalence of social media, and its unique ability to really keep people out of human interaction and glued in cyberspace, has been both truly impressive, what with the massive success of companies like Facebook Inc. ($FB), LinkedIn (LNKD), or Twitter (TWTR). And at the same time, the changes to the real-life interaction caused by social media boom have been astounding, making us paradoxically more and less "social."
This spoken word piece by Gary Turk, "Look Up," explores both the anti-loneliness promise of social media. And in his opinion, its grand failure at doing exactly that. Whether viewed as anti-tech or pro-human, Turk does raise some interesting points about how alone we can all feel when surrounded by hundreds of “friends” with this subdued, bordering-on-poetry-slam piece. And while his call to quit staring at a screen and go play outside is certainly nothing new for anyone who had a parent in the last sixty years, his poem does bring attention to the social consequences of social media.
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