Thursday, July 14, 2016

Life Without Social Media?

Mama Kat had an interesting prompt for today:

If social media died tomorrow, describe a hobby you might get into.

Social media is a relatively new phenomenon. I think at best it’s only been around since the mid-Nineties, because that’s as long as the Internet has been available to normal people like you and me. That’s what, about twenty years? Put another way, I was in my late thirties when I got my first AOL account, which is the way most of us got started on the Internet, so to speak, and I’m sixty now, So, a little over twenty years.

What did I do with my time when I didn’t spend hours glued to my computer, fighting with talking to people on newsgroups (remember them?), arguing with following people on Facebook and Twitter, etc.?

  • I read.
  • I played guitar.
  • I kept a journal, and discovered I liked to write.
  • I drank, maybe a little too much.
  • I watched baseball.
  • I had a job where I traveled, so I spent a certain amount of time hanging out in shopping malls, because it was something to do. I rarely bought anything.
  • I listened to music.
  • I listened to shortwave radio.

Could I go back to doing those things? Well, I never stopped doing some of them. I still write, obviously, and would continue to do so, although if the definition of “social media” includes blogging, I’d have to find another outlet for my scribblings. I no longer journal, and maybe I should. I still read and follow baseball (although I rarely watch it since nearly all the games are on cable channels and we got rid of cable over a year ago), but I no longer drink. I keep saying I’d like to try playing guitar again; maybe it’s time I tried. Maybe if social media went away, I would be forced to spend time doing that.

In a way, many of my physical woes have been caused by my fascination with being online in one form or another. If social media hadn’t come into my life, would the same things happen? I’m not sure. I do think I could have found a more productive use for the time I’ve wasted on it, but I can’t go back and change history, much as I’d like to.

There are a lot of good things that have resulted from my involvement with social media, though. I’ve drawn closer to my family, most of whom still live in the Chicago area. I now know what my cousins are up to, where the most interaction I’ve had with them before now was seeing them occasionally at family gatherings. I’ve met a lot of people through blogging and through Facebook and Twitter, people who like the things I like and know more about them, people with whom I can share my interests with. If social media were to go away, I’d have to find ways to maintain contact with them and to meet other people with the same interests. In my current situation, that would be a challenge. I’m not the most sociable person to start with, and my mobility is limited to where Mary is willing to drive.

Social media is a great big pain in the backside, but considering the alternative, I’m glad it’s around.


from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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