Last week a lot of my friends went to the Internet summit, which is an event where people get off their computers to hear other people talk about computers. It’s a pretty popular local event, so it was no surprise when I saw a bunch of people start tweeting a quote from Jim Tobin going along the lines
“Social Media is like a puppy. You have to feed and care for it every day or else it will die”
Apparently, Jim never had my puppy, whose sole purpose in life was not companionship, but rather to take any opportune moment to run away so he could fend for himself in the wilderness of suburbia in a modern day version of The Call of the Wild.
I have to disagree though, somewhat because I’ve owned a dog and don’t think of it like social media, but mostly because I am a crazy cat person. To me, social media is a cat. Yes, you have to feed it and care for it every day every day, just like a puppy. Sometimes it will have accidents and throw up inches from your face in the middle of the might, just like a puppy. Other times it will be very loving and won’t leave you alone, like a puppy.
But then there’s the life I know my cat has beyond my eyes that I know she doesn’t want me to know. There are things I know she does, like hide under the bed or hunt for bugs, but I don’t know the exact details of what she’s doing. Sometimes my cat wants to pretend she doesn’t know me because I’ve been a horrible person and left her alone for a minute too long. Unlike my dog, my cat needs people, but she doesn’t always need to be near me.
That’s why social media is like a cat. You have to take care of it, even if it doesn’t think you need it to, and it will have a life you don’t know about. You can’t measure everything it does. That would just be wasteful and the information becomes pointless.
I can leave my social media alone for a day, just like I could with my cat. If I upload a hilarious video, and it catches on, I know there’s a point where it is impossible for me to know exactly how people are sharing it or talking about it. Sure, I can get a sense of what it’s doing, like my cat going out to the garage to hunt bugs or that people find the video really funny, but there comes a point where it’s just not worth it to know that adorable little kitten has had an inch long cockroach in her mouth.
Maybe social media is like any domesticated companionship animal. But I’d like to think it’s my cat, with all her grossness, mood swings, and fierce independence.