Oh Facebook – I remember a time when you were a bit of harmless fun, a place to upload embarrassing photos of that drunken night out and to communicate with friends when we ran out of credit… Then came the “like” button. Suddenly, it’s all about sharing witty statuses, sitting smugly as the “likes” pile up: “Aren’t I a funny one?” That little button has come to signify a big change in social networking, replacing the “social” with a whole lot of “look-at-me!”
Miles Jai summarised it perfectly with his Like Mah Status video (scroll down to watch), a glorious rant about how obsessed people have become with collecting ‘likes’, as if they are some kind of trophy, a virtual ego-boost. I include myself in this statement when I say that we all do it from time to time: it’s just one of those annoying side-effects of growing up in a digital age.
…what I’m talking about is those petty Facebook posts…
It’s even worse with the younger generation. As a 90s-kid, I can still remember the unveiling of our school’s brand new I.T. suite in 2000; back then, we learned things like how to access the school’s Intranet. Fast-forward a decade or so, and kids as young as ten have their own Youtube channels, where they parade around doing covers of Selena Gomez songs and what-have-you, always ending the video with “Make sure you rate, comment and subscribe” (translation – “It’s all about me! Rate me, follow me, LOVE ME!”) Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but you get the gist.
It’s bad enough that so many of us use the Internet and social media sites for self-promotion and validation purposes. It’s even worse when others use it to get at us, sending sly signals over the web to get us down. I’m not even talking about cyber-bullying here, although that alone deserves a whole article dedicated to it. No, what I’m talking about is those petty Facebook posts that shouldn’t matter, but do anyway. A good example of this occurred shortly after my boyfriend and I recently broke up. (I should add, before I go any further, that we are once more on the best of terms and that I am sharing this story with his consent).
…for sharing our lives with others…
Scrolling through my newsfeed, I suddenly came across all these videos he had posted, like Bunny Wailer’s Walk Away From Love, alongside a host of statuses about letting things breathe, letting time take its course, etc. I’d also like to add at this stage that my ex is Italian, and that after a whole load of dodgy translations and an inability to transliterate Italian metaphors, I don’t know whether I was more pissed off with Google Translate or my ex’s statuses! It just seemed so unnecessary to passive-aggressively air our private life to the rest of the Facebook community, especially as a simple phone call and actual communication with one another was all that was needed for us to be friends once again.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that while social media has definitely opened up a whole world of opportunity for sharing our lives with others, sometimes this can go too far. When it becomes solely about our own ego, or about having a stab at others as a way to detract from our own insecurities, social media has the ability to become horribly antisocial.