Social Media Cocaine… wanna do a line?

Social media, it has captured the imagination of folks all over the world.  It can be a drug for some, like cocaine or merely a form of asprin but if you need it no other diversion will satisfy.

The radio talk show circuit is all abuzz about addictions to social media, Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn (it’s considered a social media site!) all have a big bulls eye on their back.  Not so long ago it was MySpace, AOL and Yahoo that ruled this yet-to-be-named internet sector and they also have a few arrows from social pundits still protruding from their backsides.

The talking radio head I was listening too on Sunday morning tried to describe what a social media addiction “looked like” so that the listener could determine if they were spending too much time immersed in it, Facebook was his target.  It seems to be an orchestrated attack, even if very subtle, directed at the empowerment social media sites offer.

I have to ask, why does embracing new technology always lead to some “think tank” sounding the alarm of certain disaster for those who gladly “do a line” of the new drug?  One man’s addiction is another man’s obsessive compulsion I suppose, neither metaphor conjures positive images though.

The radio head spent most of his time talking about the need for balance in life.  I actually cussed at the radio when I heard that.   Think for a moment of the truly successful business people of our time, from Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to Martha Stewart, not one of them lives a particularly “balanced” life.  Balance is nice, but it’s not really for me, not in the way these experts choose to frame it at least. Had these successful people not sold out to their dream we wouldn’t have many things we now consider part of the fabric of our lives today.

Social media sites and empowerment, not an easy fit for most, is it? Social media sites give us a way to (think empowerment here) connect with our past, for many it is a way to revisit some of the happiest times in memory, for others its a way to meet new people both locally and abroad and for many it’s a way to build a business or an “audience” for their message. If it’s the latter, wouldn’t you invest time in ANY business you were trying to make successful? You’d hardly be called addicted or obsessive for doing so.  It doesn’t have to be Facebook because Twitter and the others bring the same opportunities to the table.

I know people that will use no other way to socialize than being online.

My generation likes to reminisce about childhood exploits.  I remember taking off in the morning and being told to be home by dinner time, I remember building tree forts and digging up sassafras roots (tastes like root beer) and running afoul in poison ivy or getting bee stings from trying to capture them in a jar (with holes in the top of course).  I didn’t even have the simple diversions most families had in those days like color television or a swimming pools, but my recollections still burn bright. The social media of my time was Monopoly, The Game of Life, baseball cards and spin the bottle, even passing notes in class seemed addictive for a time.

The generation my kids are from will fondly remember their first soccer games (perhaps baseball even, but soccer was the kid sport of their day), their early love for Game Boys, first cell phones or laptops. Not exactly the stuff of how WE viewed “balance”; but to them it will be something to hold over their children when time and technology eclipse their own “simple” upbringing.

I don’t think of social media in terms of actual addictions, it’s more like “binge” socializing; still, I like to refer to it all as “social media cocaine!” It’s true that some appear to be all consumed with it, but no more than anyone who may be fully engaged in a television series (24, American Idol, Wheel of Fortune, Sex In The City, etc.) or reading books.  In the end we all still find ways to eat our meals, earn a living and show up for family holiday events.

What is it you want to do in life?  I think the road to achieving your dreams and goals means doing a few “lines” of what is important to you, if it’s social media then so be it. It’s like wired telephones, then video games, cell phones and laptops, we eventually embraced the new addictions of our time and then move on.  Social media cocaine… wanna do a line?

Thanks for reading this far.