I’m addicted to Facebook. I’ll admit it. I have friends ask me how I post so much. I’ve been told I appear on friends’ feeds multiple times a day, so my activity is not going without notice.
I respond, often, by noting how easy it is to share articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, etc. Almost every site has little buttons for easy sharing across all forms of social media so I figure why not use it? Why not use the easy “share” button on Facebook. Hell, I’ve used it one my phone often as a way to store a link somewhere I know will be easy to find it, which often enough is my own Facebook feed.
My feed started to resemble a Tumblr of interesting stories, news pieces, and videos. To share one link, without including the time to watch or even read the entire article, takes bout 2 seconds, maybe less, I haven’t actually timed this yet. So the process of sharing is easy, they programmed it that way, but there is more to it than that. Accessibility is not the whole story.
While I can use the “it’s so easy!” excuse for why I share so many things, I know it’s not the full story. Why I’m on Facebook chat so much is more than just my habit of leaving it on one of my browser tabs. Why I have a twitter account has to have more of a reason than just “everyone is doing it.”
I don’t want to feel left behind, left out, or disengaged. It stems from leftovers of the constant FOMO (fear of missing out) I had back when I was in grade school and high school.
No longer having the condensed microcosm I had in college, the fear returned. Friends are no longer down the hall way or living in the nearest block of student apartments. They’re half way across the country and sometimes even the world.
Facebook helps bridge this gap, at least with the friends that use it. I know who’s gotten engaged, who’s married, who’s had kids, who’s moved to a new job, who works for Google (when they replace their profile picture and info with “I’ve moved” and the G+ logo).
But it’s more than that. And it’s not just an addiction to Facebook, oh no. It’s all the social media sites. I have accounts on more of them than I can list off the top of my head. Why?
The easy answer is that I work in media. My focus has been video, editing and producing, but being an independent film and documentary director mean I have to be up and ready to promote my own work. Social media is the fastest and most accessible way to bring something to an audience–and when used right, it can find, cultivate, and grow an audience.
But it goes deeper than that. It goes deeper than being part of a necessary work tool. And it’s something that at it’s core is why social media works in the first place: Our need to feel connected.
Yeah, this sounds a tad hokey but it’s the need that pulled the telephone from being only something used by governments and companies to families. It pushed them to become mobile. People went from being connected when they were close to landlines and in their homes or offices to being able to dial up a loved one at any point in their day, or text a friend (or sext a lover) from any location of their choosing (signal issues aside, god damn you AT&T).
I may use Facebook for mild entertainment, for procrastination, to keep a constant feed of information and current events streaming to my desktop everyday. Most of us use it for that.
Or if we don’t use Facebook we use Twitter, or other feeds that keep information constantly streaming our way. Regardless of how you refine your daily searches, or how you prune your Twitter and Facebook feeds, you’re still wired in. You’re still connected. Is it a need, a want, or an addiction? The access and quantity has changed, how will we continue to change with it?
Jax is a digital video and documentary producer living in the heartland. You can follow her highjinks @Jtoddles