Social Media As Play

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.

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5 thoughts on “Social Media As Play

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  2. Your post was short and to the point. I enjoyed your topic on technology, considering that your morning social media “ritual” tends to match mine. You highlighted the importance and frequent use of technology for our generation, and the fact that as students, the role technology now plays in our education. Your post connected with an important principle in Huizinga’s Homo Ludens, but I wish you would have expanded on the topic a little more. Either way, I liked how you mentioned the fact that like “make believe”, social media is what you make it, a way to express yourself freely.

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  3. I think it is extremely interesting how you connected the use and engagement of social media to play. I often find myself mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed for lack of a better reason just because I’m bored. As time goes on, we are engaging more and more into social media and spending more time using social media sites. While it is true that it is completely voluntary to sign up for social media and post things, I think that once you are signed in, you lose a sense of freedom involved. Since it is so wide spread and easily accessible, social media presents a notion that people have to be connected at all times, or else they are going to lose something by being out of the loop. Therefore, people feel compelled to constantly check their news feeds to stay up to date with everything going on, causing social media to take away some sense of freedom.

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  4. I would have never been able to come up with such a comparison! It related so well to Huizinga’s definition. I think you did a good job of addressing the components that Huizinga says makes up play and connecting it back into the social media example. Like @mimi.twenty4 says though, I do wish you had talked a little bit more about the reading we did in class. I felt like the post talked a lot more about social media than about Huizinga’s ideas. However, overall, you did an excellent job in connecting the social media to Huizinga’s definition of play.

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  5. I really like the connection made between the reading and social media, and it makes me wonder if the creators of these companies know about these types of connections and use them to draw more people in. Social media really has become such a routine part of our lives and there is no doubt that large companies hire professionals to try to figure out how to get more people addicted. I also wonder what other types of companies use the idea of play to try to rope more consumers in.

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