Social media is great, but there are limits

Published 10:25 am Thursday, July 25, 2013

Column: A Happy Medium, by Erin Murtaugh

Isn’t it crazy how connected to the Internet society has become? People are always on smartphones, computers or tablets, constantly checking their social media and messages. It’s like people never take a break from the technology.

Personally, I think our attachment to technology is both a good and bad thing. We have made it so much easier to keep in contact with people. But what are we missing around us as our technology absorbs us?

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Last week, after taking a family’s photos, I posted a few of them to my Facebook page. Every day last week I received inquiries about others wanting photos done. I’ve never been so happy because I’ve always wanted to be able to take as many photos as possible.

It just amazed me that after posting two photos on the Internet, so many people had seen them and responded to me posting. Social media has become such a great tool for photographers and other businesses as well. It creates another way that can grab the attention of customers.

Also, it can make a good place to offer promotions or exclusive deals to the social media followers.

When I was a lot younger, my neighbor, Nan, and I became very close friends. We would have sleepovers almost every night and talk through the windows of our houses. When I was 6, Nan moved back to Iowa City, where she was from. We lost contact for a while, but a few years later, my mom received an email message from Nan, asking for my email address. We had seen each other once in a while when she would come back to visit, but our ability to communicate had suddenly bloomed.

Soon enough, we were both on Facebook and became friends. Ever since then, we have been able to stay in contact and always know how the other is doing. Because of receiving an invitation to her graduation open house on Facebook, I was able to drive down to Iowa City and spend that weekend with her. Reasons like these are why I’m so glad we’ve got the social networks we do.

At the same time, I’m disappointed in how attached we really are to technology. Going to restaurants, you see people using their devices rather than interacting with the people they came with. I live near the lake, so coming and going home, I often see people walking or biking the lake.

It just seems silly to me to have your face glued to the screen of your phone. I know Fountain Lake may be a little green sometimes, but come on. Put away the phone and pay attention to the beauty and activity around you. Some pretty amazing things can be seen if you keep your focus on what’s surrounding you.

I think my biggest pet peeve is when people go on vacation and can’t put their phones down. Yes, I understand people want to share where they are and what they are doing, but how much are you actually getting out of your vacation if you have to share something about your trip online every few minutes?

Next time you’re on a trip, feel free to disconnect from home and pay attention to where you are and who you’re with. Trust me, I’ve tried this a few times recently while traveling and I feel so much more connected to the place I’m at. There’s all the time in the world after you get home again to share your experiences online.


Albert Lea High School senior Erin Murtaugh’s column appears every Thursday.