Chasing Likes – Is Social Media Ruining Your Life?

by | Mar 17, 2015 | Commentary, Social Media

This is a commentary on an article posted on Mashable.com: http://mashable.com/2015/03/13/social-media-ruining-your-life/

With the proliferation of social networks and extreme ease of access, it’s become rather obvious that social media is here to stay. A myriad of social networks have come and gone, some better than others, some that change and some that don’t. Some help us stay connected and find new friends, others help us find and share new music, videos, and photos. Each offering a variety of content easily accessible and just as disposable. At the heart of the majority of social networks runs a common theme – “likes” – and an article on Mashable references a recent study that suggests these imperceptible thumbs up are ruining your life. Fancy that.

Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield are co-authors of New York Times bestsellers like Crucial Conversations, and they have unveiled a new study on the way “likes” and the need for other social media praise is affecting our day-to-day lives. Their study, which surveyed 1,623 people, paints a rather drab picture of a society that has become obsessed with social media and is on a constant race to chase “likes”. Grenny and Maxfield use the term “trophy hunting” when referring to people who are more focused on capturing a moment than living in it. I see it all the time. People at concerts, clubs, in their cars, at the park, at a wedding – some, not all, are far too focused on their phones and trying to take a photo or video of a moment happening before their eyes that they are missing exactly why they are there – to live in that moment. It’s almost as if people feel some inherent desire to photograph, tweet or post the things that are happening in their lives in order to prove that it actually happened.

The authors go on to suggest that three out of four people admitted to being rude or distant because they focus more on their phones than people. Are we that starved for online attention? That famished for validation from friends and strangers that we ignore the life unfolding right in front of our eyes? It’s rather baffling, but also telling. Technology has made tremendous leaps and bounds, allowing individuals from all over the world to stay connected with one another at any given time during the day. In a time when we should perhaps becoming closer, are we in fact growing further apart?

I agree with Grenny and Maxfield. And while I’ve been guilty of some of the things the Mashable article discusses, I do my best to keep my phone in my pocket when in social situations. It’s tough, especially when I’ve just uploaded a photo to Instagram after applying new filters from VSCO Cam and I just NEED to know how many double taps my photo received.

It’s somewhat comical that social media has created a chasm of disconnect in actual social situations. We’ve become far too reliant, as it were, on capturing the moment rather than living in it. Searching, looking, taking and retaking a photo in order to remember a moment we’re neglecting to live. Have we progressed this far as a society that we measure our value based on the amount of likes we get? Surely there must be more. No amount of thumbs up reverence should ever replace what it’s like to be alive and live in a moment. Have we indeed regressed and become too focused on chasing likes that we’re forgetting to live? I hope not. And now, I must check Instagram for the new photo I just uploaded because the suspense is killing me.