I read a wicked post just this week about not using Facebook as a tool to promote yourself with a fan page when no-one knows who you are. It’s the very same reason I don’t have one (a Facebook Fan Page I mean) and why I don’t have a Wiki page. I’m waiting for someone to think I’m worth adding on there. And until then, why sweat the small stuff.

And if I wasn’t totally convinced yet about social media not being all it’s cracked up to be by recent tweets and a few crazy friends who spend too many hours on there (it’s literally cracking us!), I read this blog about the effects of social media on our actual mental well being. It really made me consider it all. Anonymity aside, and that we have that screen there to protect us from the “real world” when we write our little messages and tweets, doesn’t good old face to face contact still outweigh anything social media related? Surely. And isn’t it terribly anti-social to be sitting at a table opposite your best mate with both of you verbally describing your FB status update or latest tweet.

Now I am the first to admit that social media can be a brilliant method of communicating with industry professionals, gaining information about auditions, connecting and sharing successes, and with growing a fan base. My double post last year even highlighted five industry peeps doing just that. But it is the other bits I’m concerned about. It’s the glazed over eyes of a friend when they are half talking to you, half updating their profiles. It’s the inability to sit and have a coffee with me without checking if they’ve been retweeted. It’s the need to know that they’ve had 30 likes on every new uploaded FB picture.

I have a Psychology degree so I spent the equivalent of at least a month of my life pouring through research articles about tests, that calculate tests that calculate stats. I absolutely believe it when I have read published pieces by Psychologists about our well-being (who wouldn’t) – I mean they’ve literally studied their topic of interest for hundreds of hours. So after doing a little investigation about the pro’s and cons of social media on our well being, here is a little summary about concerns raised by Psychologists and Professors. Alternatively if you’d like more detail I’ve actually added more links at the bottom of this post (get a cuppa, it’s a long blog!)

  • When people use Facebook they can get very different outcomes depending on their personality type. It’s actually been found that people who have low self-esteem tend to express a lot of negative emotion and not so much positive emotion. The result is that they end up being less well liked on Facebook 🙁  (Amanda Forest)
  • Teens using Facebook have more narcissistic tendencies while young adults who have a strong Facebook presence show more signs of other psychological disorders, including anti-social behaviours (Professor Larry Rosen).
  • There is even a disorder, not yet medically approved, called Facebook Addiction Disorder. The disorder has been coined from people being afraid to let go or disconnect from social media outlets. They don’t want to miss anything. (Sydneyeve Matrix, a media professor)
  • There are now greater concerns about reduced face-to-face interactions and an increased loss in social skills.
  • Daily overuse of media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders (Professor Larry Rosen). 
  • It’s not all bad though. Rosen, mentioned above, also suggests Facebook can have a positive impact on young adults’ lives by helping them be more empathetic. They will respond to friends having a hard day and offer kind responses and offers of help. This empathy is a good thing.

We don’t yet know the full effects of social media because Facebook, as an example, is only about 7 years old.  This billion dollar business however does know about us, our likes, preferences, shopping habits, where we have traveled and what we like doing (advertising sits on the side designed to suit our clicks). This is only one teeny tiny element of what we don’t know. So how can we know the social and mental impacts either.

Put back into the context of acting, there are still some take outs on how to keep your social sanity. Here are some suggestions on how to ensure you don’t waste precious time using it for the wrong reasons:

  1. Allocate a set amount amount of time for ‘social’ media, including updating FB, tagging photos and randomly browsing through mates pages.
  2. Do set aside time to create lists in Twitter so you can categorise the tweets you need to read, vs the ones you know will just be more fun.
  3. Each time you start to follow a new person add them to your predetermined lists. For example. I have lists for LA Casting Directors, Actors, UK Film makers etc.
  4. Consider if you really actually need a Facebook Fan Page right now.  Do you have enough people who know you as a personality to warrant having a page? And if you aren’t sure, can you spare the time to actually update it regularly with content so it is a useful resource.
  5. Make sure you know your own limitations.  If you can’t have a conversation with your friend for at least an hour without needing to pick up your handset because you have anxieties then you need a social media break. Block out some time to be away from your handset or computer…perhaps even for a few days. It is incredible how quickly the need to grab your phone and put up a status update diminishes after a few days of traveling around in a new country and getting away from technology.

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2 thoughts on “HASHTAG JUST SAYING

  1. Rebecca says:

    great post Ang. Social media worries me to the extent that sometimes it seems that people are becoming detached from reality. We've all spent time with someone (and probably all been that person) who is so focused on getting 'a new profile photo' or checking an update etc etc that they are not actually engaging in real life. A while ago I made a sub-conscious decision to subtly try switching off from social media (deleted the apps etc – stopped the constant access)…to be grateful that when I want (and have time to) connect with people online I can..but to actually disconnect from the constant deluge of information…to let my mind find silence. I still check Facebook occasionally and it's (almost) always a pleasure to see what people are doing and can be a great work tool (the best) but I now have more time to look at sites that interest me (B.A.B.E / TED talks / TDL) AND to do stuff that doesn't involve being online. YES – every time i see/hear sthg amazing or a pic of a friend I think 'OHHH I would have missed that if I had deactivated my account' (i can't decide whether I should) but then again, we can't literally spend our every waking minute either telling the world what we are doing or seeing what everyone else is doing….because in doing that we start to live in the third person…rather than the present. It's almost as if social media has worked itself up into such a frenzy that we feel that if we disconnect then we don't exist…yet ironically, we all know that when sitting opposite someone who is more switched on to their social media as it buzzes in the palm of their hand than engaging in conversation it doesn't really seem like they're existing in the present anyway. I think that it's all about balance (as always) – a healthy dose of social media – it's a GREAT way to connect with people – but with an equal dose of disconnection and just being present. I can certainly say that I've felt a lot more peaceful and centered since I decided to (surgically) remove my iphone from the palm of my hand. As for the worries for the next generation (i feel old!)…I second everything that you say. it's v worrying indeed. Thanks for such an insightful post. You've reassured me that i'm not about to go down the plughole because I haven't checked FB for 24 hours…but that in fact…it could be good for me! thanks

  2. Pingback: Is technology bad for your baby? - B.A.B.E.

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