Social media: Loudspeaker or buzzing hive?

talkingI’ve been thinking for a long time about social media and its effects on us. Tools like Facebook and Twitter are meant to connect us with people — in the case of Twitter especially, people all over the world. Everyone has a voice, and anyone can communicate.

But are our voices coming through a loudspeaker or drowning in the noise of too much conversation?

Facebook and Twitter can be amazing resources for promotion or social networking. They’re also a great place to broadcast our thoughts. But who is listening? These aren’t cure-alls for the anonymity of the Internet. It doesn’t guarantee success or instant popularity. In fact, social media has been shown to trigger feelings of depression and anxiety.

Why? Well, these sites play host to drama, for one. A lot of people spread negative energy on Facebook or Twitter. But we also resort to comparing ourselves to others: how many friends or followers we have, “likes” or “retweets” we get, and so on. Worst of all, among so many voices, we can feel like ours is rarely heard.

The solution is to step away, which is exactly what you shouldn’t do if you want to maintain or build a good online presence. So how do you reconcile the two?

I think it’s healthier to limit your time on social media and focus on life outside the computer. They’re also huge distractions and can kill productivity. But how do you manage this if you’re a budding author or someone who needs to create and foster a platform online?

Do you feel isolated when you spend too much time on social media? Do you find yourself comparing your success and social standing to those of others? How do you cope with this?