After scrolling through the social media accounts I use most–Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook–I strongly believe that social media technology is a combination of both technological determinism, as well as social determinism.
I remember when everyone first started using “lol” (laugh out loud…although I’m sure you all already knew that), and I swore to myself that I would never be a “lol” person, but instead stay a “hahaha” person. Despite my best efforts to fight conformity, I am now a frequent “lol”, “lmao”, and “lmfao” person. Due to the fact that so many of the people I interacted with online used the term “lol”, they influenced me to do the same. My social surroundings impacted my behavior, regardless of my original hesitation. Because this topic is even an issue to be thought over, technological determinism clearly plays a role in this situation, too. If I were to have a conversation with my mom back in the 1980s about my dilemma in trying to decide whether to use “lol” or “hahaha”, she would probably not even know what the big deal is–and why this would make such a difference in the interpretation of the message I am trying to get across.
Now, despite how insignificant it might sound whether I would use “lol” or “hahaha” in a post, the truth is that it does matter. When you post online, whether it be a tweet or a status update, the diction you choose to share with your (in my case) 4,947 friends,says a lot about you. Whether you actually spell out the word “you”, or instead use the letter “u”. They both are referring to the same thing, but the way in which your audience perceives the message is going to be different through both of these posts.
Social media, like many other things in life, can have the ability to consume and overtake people’s lives. However, I conceive it as a mere tool to interact with others and have fun. Its fun to look at other people’s pictures and thoughts and opinions on subjects that differ from my own, and it is also fun to have other people look and like mine as well. I think many people would agree with me when I say that I am braver on social media. I might comment or tweet someone that I might not talk to face to face if I ran into them in public.
Going to Latour’s seatbelt example, I think the usage of social media is very similar. For example, I have 100+ friends on Snapchat, and so that is roughly 100+ Snapchat stories to watch a day (if I so desire to). However, what I sometimes find myself doing is viewing their story, only so they will view mine in return. When I post a story, and I check to see who has viewed it, certain names will grab my attention and I will look to see if they posted a story, also. So the fact in the matter is that while most people don’t put on their seat belt because it is the law, but instead to stop that God awful dinging noise; I likewise don’t view other people’s story just because I am interested in their life at that point in time, but instead want them to view what I’m doing.
The two pictures I’ve attached are the two very different ways Facebook can be used. The first one is a screenshot of a post my dad made after being allowed back on Facebook after a 30 day suspension for vulgar language. The other screenshot is something I would typically post. As you can see, very different.