Feb 16, 2024, 06:28AM

Grains of Sand

Social media only has the chokehold we let it have.

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It’s hard to believe so many have played in the social media game for over two decades. I was a “momblogger” when companies threw free merch and money at us to talk about product. I attended blogging conferences, one in New York where I spoke about protecting our children’s privacy when we choose to write about them; the intersection of journalism when stories are our own as mothers to tell, versus when our kids become teenagers and have a right to their own narratives: it was a thought-provoking and interesting discussion among the attendees of the workshop.

Seeing my four adult children, now ranging from 18-30, grow up across a spectrum of Millennial-Gen Z exposure to social media has been a sociological experience; Gen X fortunately had no such burden. We were “outside playing until dinner,” not worried about whether our peers would be scrolling to criticize every makeup, fashion and music choice.

Watching the effect social media has on people in my own generation is grim. In my hobby, beachcombing, at first I thought it was a fun way to connect to people with a shared interest. My passion was the history side of discovering why finds wash up on beaches, leading me to a decades-long journey researching, lecturing, identifying and contest-judging that continues to this day.

Although I still attend a few shows a year,  I’m semi-retired from the industry largely because of social media. I’ve seen its ugly side, an incessant desire some unfortunately have for likes, follows and attention. This insatiable cycle of content production can destroy friendships and cause raging “comment wars,” blocking, and negativity for a hobby related to the alleged peace and harmony traditionally associated with the beach.

What’s always been important to me is time spent on coastlines discovering history, enjoying nature and time with friends, but greed has consumed the industry to the point where I barely recognize what it was 20 years ago, and could tell dozens of stories of horrific behavior by “adults” who care more about the fame and fortune they think they’re going to find from hawking broken glass: fake sea glass and fake followers thrive in addition to an incessant need to display “haul” shots and argue over beach locations.

It makes me sad, and keeps me off devices as much as possible, which isn’t at all bad. In addition to promoting my candle business, which is the main reason I’m there, I try to use social media for creativity, fun, laughter, connect—we have to keep the social in social media that’s now lost in a one-way echo chamber; it’s only tolerable when we use it as a tool.


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