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Looking at social media from another angle

The avenues of Social Media
The avenues of Social Media

“Knowing when you’re licked is half of the battle”

“If you can’t beat them, join them”

“You either roll with it or get run over by it”

Take your pick from any of the old adages above and check for the appropriate fit. If you are reading this article you’ve probably had to contend with this reality as it applies to social media. I can’t recall exactly when I was compelled to make the jump into the churning waters of social media. If I recall correctly, I believe I had to be pulled kicking and screaming into the fold, or on second thought, maybe it was the element of curiosity that prompted me to join the collective.

MySpace was my first foray into social media and when the star dimmed on that, like many of their users I transitioned over to Facebook, this was followed by my halfhearted effort in setting up a Twitter account and despite my being an unprolific Tweeter, I have kept it open, at the time of this writing I don’t think that I have more than 3,000 total tweets. In my defense, I just don’t see myself as being that interesting in the grand scheme of things. That being said, I won’t mention the dysfunctional relationship I have with my Pinterest account, after initially setting it up and digesting the labor involved in keeping relevant, I was compelled to take a page from Roberto Duran, throwing up my hands and saying “No Mas” with the exception of an occasional visit.

I count myself among the commentators who are guilty of wondering aloud if our propensity for social media comes at the expense of losing core elements of our humanity, namely the ability to hold a conversation with a person positioned a paltry couple inches away. Studies have shown that 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal medium, while the remaining 93% is based on the element of body language, these numbers do vary depending on the individuals and situations involved.

When I came across the Pew Internet Project’s research on social media, I was fascinated to see the parity of social media use across socio-economic backgrounds. According to the study as of September 2013, 73% of online adults used social networking sites, the only statistic where there wasn’t an element of parity was among adults 65 years and older, in this demographic only 46% are social network users.

The biggest takeaway from the study is that the average user of a social networking site has more ties and is half as likely to be socially isolated that the average American. The revelation that one of Facebook’s many charms is the ability to revive “dormant”relationships, something that I can attest to personally.

So, the next time I consider railing against social media divesting us of our humanity, maybe I should tip my hat to it instead.

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