Why this Generation Xer loves social media

Let’s stop bashing change, and enjoy the ride a little

I understand the concerns about social media. I know that excessive screen time is bad for kids. We would all sleep better if we shut off our screens two hours before we go to bed. There are real dangers online, too. 

Let’s just tap the brakes for a moment, though. I want to explore some positive aspects of social media. It is, after all, just another change. It is here to stay. Okay, now buckle up.

Even though I’m a member of Generation X (squashed and mostly forgotten between the Boomers and the Millennials), I love social media. I’ve seen rapid change. The sky may have a hole in it, but it hasn’t fallen yet.

I get frustrated with folks (often my fellow Gen Xers and older) who refuse to learn social media. Come on, give it a whirl! Vladimir Putin is NOT interested in stealing your identity. Spoiler alert: Online trolls have always had access to your privacy; it’s just easier today for them to rip you off. Our social life is fragile. That’s the nature of the nation state.

I work online, both locally and internationally. I’m a writer. It’s essential for my work. It’s wonderful, and interesting. As an introvert, I love to work from my cozy basement office. IMHO (or “In My Humble Opinion,” for any non-social media types), I still manage to play well with others, um, most of the time. 

I hate working in an office. Working online is my salvation. It is adaptive, and suits my personality and lifestyle as a single mom and proudly self-identified misfit.

I reconnect with people through social media. Some say Facebook friends are not real, but lots of people in our social network are not “real” connections. They’re called acquaintances. 

I don’t have to talk to everyone every day. I am glad that I can wish people a happy birthday, or post my Christmas greetings. I have family in Ireland that I’m getting to know. It’s okay to just reach out and like a comment. What’s wrong with that?

People complain that others try to make their lives seem perfect on social media. That’s about perception. If I post a selfie of me smiling on a beach, that’s about me. If it upsets you, that’s about you. Maybe you need to go to the beach. Be kind to yourself. 

But what about the kids? I hear you cry.

Kids are suffering the negative effects of social media. But humans adapt in so many ways. We are such fascinating critters.

I can’t afford art lessons for my daughter, who loves to draw. A couple of years ago, she went online and taught herself. Kids are learning good things online, independently. She keeps learning, and is really good at art. 

Another daughter made friends online during a tough time in her life. I spoke to a therapist, who told me the usual stuff about moderation and so on. She also invited me to consider: What kind of relationships were they developing? What role were these other kids playing in her life? With some monitoring and a lot of communication, I learned about these kids (yes, they were kids). They still help each other out, even as she has matured and gained more local friends. 

True, kids need to socialize face to face. Remember letter writing? Raise your hand if you ever monopolized the phone for hours as a teenager. Human beings are driven to socialize. As a parent and slowing-down human, I find the changes scary. As a Gen Xer and cultural anthropologist, I find them exciting. 

Did I say, “Buckle up?” Yes. I would add, “Enjoy the ride.”


Featured Image: Reach out and connect with someone on social media.︱Pixabay, Gerd Altmann

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