If I’ve learned anything from waking up bright and early on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to attend our political theory lectures, it’s that technology is vital, ever changing, and at times utterly confusing. In order to complete my course work and stay up to date on assignments, I find myself consistently checking four different webpages and often more depending on how many times my phone has gone off signaling Piazza notifications that day. Long story short–it’s a lot. But every page and various channel through the web has something different to offer and contribute to my overall success in this class.
As a whole, technology, and social media in particular, have an increasingly necessary place in all our lives. Particularly for our generation, it has become rather difficult to get around its uses. I don’t think you’ll find a college student in a greater panic than when the Wi-Fi mysteriously shuts down at 11:59pm just as he or she is about to submit a paper online (I sure hope I’m not foreshadowing the success of my night). While this other dimension of the human race has become rather irreplaceable in its value, it was an idea we as a society bought in to. We volunteered our lives, our pictures, our interests, and our time—we signed up for this game. According to Huizinga’s definition of play, social media is a game that we keep on playing.
There is no doubt that my use of social media is inherent. My online routine is ingrained in me. The second I wake up in the morning my laptop is open and three pages are instantly loaded: my umich gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. Before I can step out of my bed and into the real world I need to be caught up, for fear that some major news might have occurred during my sleeping hours. Facebook and Twitter are my main source of real world news and my own personal world news, also known as the latest up to date info on all of my friends.
Social media is the absolute epitome of freedom. It is the perfect platform to speak your mind whether through words, video, or maybe even with pictures. Speak your mind and you’ll be heard as it’s a great platform to bring people who share similar viewpoints together. While there are no bounds to reign in your opinions in terms of what can and cannot be shared, there are some rules and constraints. The character limit on twitter leaves you to shorten your thoughts into small but effective sound bytes. Social media is also optional. You have to choose to put your information out there and to create an account.
Without question social media is largely unproductive. It accounts for much of my procrastination on a daily basis as it’s so easy to get sucked in to the alternate world that it presents. Social media is a lot like make believe because it is exactly what people make of it. People can post certain pictures or ideas to make people see them a certain way or make them believe that they are different from who they truly are.
Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga outlines the definition of play and social media is exactly that. Whether simply for a distraction from daily life and responsibility, a competition between a better presentation of profiles with others, or just keeping up with the news, social media is all just game play.