Social Media & Hey You Kids Get Off My Lawn!

In preparation of reading today’s blog Jim encourages you play the Who’s My Generation

Remember being an early adolescent and there were words you were too embarrassed to ask what they meant? It seems that’s come full circle for me. I have endured the eye rolling of young people as I gently ask, “What the #$@%! is Instagram? Why do I need to check out Friendster? Will it turn me into a hipster? I know how to Google, why do I need to Google plus? Is there math involved now?

This is why I keep a huge supply of young people in my life. They ensure that while I may not be able to prevent getting old, I don’t have to become rigid and opposed to new technology or new ideas. Many of the toys, hobbies, and technology I enjoy today would never have become part of my life if my kids hadn’t introduced me to them.

Truth – no matter how much I accomplish in life, I still wanna be one of the cool kids. I just bought a shiny new tablet. I know! You’re impressed. They’ve been out for years now but I just got one.

My daughter refers to my whining as “first world problems.” I hate dragging my laptop out, setting it up, plugging in the cord and waiting for it to boot up. So I bought a tablet. What do I do with it? Um…I sit on my couch and read Facebook status updates during commercials. It’s just how I roll.

I marvel at FB and other social media. I see that it has uses. It’s convenient and an easy way to share personal information in today’s sound byte culture. I like inboxing, posting articles I think friends would like and I like that FB doesn’t let me forget anyone’s birthday. I enjoy a couple time waster games. I appreciate people who post funny stuff on their page and am bewildered by people who use FB as a place to air their dirty laundry.

What troubles me about social media is that it’s somehow replaced phone calls and a lot of face to face interaction. I hate text speak and I find it fascinating that our language has evolved/devolved with technology. Punctuation, spelling words out, and putting your name at the end of any correspondence have become optional. Damn, I sound like a curmudgeon.

I want to stay young at heart and enjoy what every new invention offers. I appreciate that FB has connected me to over 400 “friends” about half of whom are people I’ve never actually met in person. I am stoked that people read my stuff and friend request me. The thing is, if you’re someone I really care about…I don’t want you to Facebook me (it’s an effing verb now). I want you to talk to me.

Reading your words is nothing compared to hearing you speak them. I need tone, inflection, facial expression and body language. I crave connection and having lunch together is infinitely more desirable to me than exchanging texts. Let’s text to arrange lunch, not to catch up.

Ultimately, social media is just not satisfying. It’s like reading a romance novel compared to having a romance. It’s a cheap substitute for socialization. It is best seen as a gateway to meaningful connections. I love that it lets me know when Orson Horchler has a new exhibit or that Pat Lemieux has a new blog out but then I want to go see what the Pigeon has created and I want to go talk about writing with Pat Lemieux. He still owes me a cup of coffee. FB told me last fall about a flash mob that would be gathering in downtown Bangor to support marriage equality and that’s cool but it’s only cool because otherwise I’d have missed it.

I don’t want to resist. I want to engage. I love meeting people who work in my field but I simply cannot take LinkedIn seriously. It’s a place to let everyone know how super cool you are. I set up an account and am connected to a stupid number of people. I couldn’t tell you a thing about who most of them are, but we’re somehow connected because I pushed the “accept” button. How do I accept someone I’ve never met in any meaningful way? How does that connection have any value other than creating some false appearance of notoriety?

I like Twitter but I hate that it makes me cognizant of how many followers I have. In real life I never count my friends but every time I log in to Twitter it tells me how many folks are “following” me. Truth to tell, it’s a low number. I don’t want to care about that and yet somehow I do. My ego wants to have more numbers and my true self is repulsed by that.

So…feel free to Google me, FB me, Twitter me (is that what people say?) text, or email me. Then invite me to lunch. I’m much more me when I’m not limited to 160 characters or a status update J




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About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim is the cofounder of an online addiction recovery program that is affordable and provides complete anonymity