Let’s talk about social media, in particular Facebook.
Usually when people talk about Facebook they do so with emphasis on the fact that social media gives you the ability to redefine yourself or create an entirely new identity altogether. They talk about how you can post statuses or that say what you want people to know about your life-maybe it’s flawless or maybe it’s quirky or angst-ridden or hipster. Whatever view of yourself you’d like to promote, you can do it with little effort. If you use Facebook (actively), you do this. I do this. Regardless of whether or not it’s deliberate, it is inevitable: you can’t see a whole life from a single, subjective perspective.
Another thing that people usually discuss regarding the development of social media like Facebook is that we are now continually spending more and more time having conversations on our devices than with our mouths. We text, message, e-mail…etc. It’s become far more comfortable, especially for the younger generation, to text than to just go “visit” someone.
Sidenote: Remember when “visiting” used to be a thing? I live in the antiquated South, where front-porch, tea-sippin’ and chatting actually is still a pastime, but even here it is becoming a lost art.
Usually, if we want to just talk, we now do so with a certain physical distance. We physically get together to do-not to “visit.” We now get the information that we would normally exchange face-to-face from a massive virtual download. I kind of wonder how this affects our brains, you know? Think about it. How many times have you said: “Oh yeah, I saw that (insert name here) got married last month (or quit that job, or had a baby)” ? I say it all the time.
I sort of wonder how our brains are being forced to adapt here. In the past, you might have held those intimate details about a handful of people…now, what? Several dozen? Hundreds? The information has little privilege associated with it. It is processed differently, there’s more of it. It’s less personal.
So what I wonder is, what does this say about us? Where are we going? Are we becoming a people that can’t pause to listen, that are full of “I knows” before actual conversations can happen.
We are now responsible for these semi-real, semi-filtered personas who are semi-friends with so many people that we don’t actually know (yet our brains are filled with the details of their own semi-filtered lives). Where is that taking us, socially?
In speculating this, I think what I’ve noticed most recently is that, on Facebook, personal conversations actually seem to be happening less often….in the open, that is.
Do you remember when Facebook used to be a place where you and your friends would write on each other’s “walls”? Everyone could see it, right? So you’d write a post to a boy you liked and then call your BFF and be like, “OMG was that cool? Do you think it was too obvious?” (or maybe that’s just those of us who were teens when Facebook first became the new MySpace)
I realized something though: people don’t really write on each other’s walls anymore. Now what you see mostly is shared articles, news, quizzes, videos. Along with the things about our lives that we choose to share, we also fling around loads of information of an impersonal nature. Facebook has changed drastically-becoming an instant news source, debate ground, and-if you’re ADD like me (which most of our generation seems to be), it is also what I would like to call Distracto-Crack.
Personal conversations now happen through Messenger. If you want to talk to somebody, you do it that way. It’s private, and unless it’s a unique circumstance, chances are you will not be messaging one of your two hundred friends that you don’t really know IRL. You’re going to Message your real-life friends.
I’m wondering what this all says about us. I know my generation is always trying to learn more, do more, go faster. I definitely see all of that with the information overload that seems to accompany the world of FB social media. We are getting downloaded with personal (edited of course) information as well as numerous articles and all of our friends’ friends opinons on those articles, etc. etc. etc. Is Facebook transforming into the modern encyclopedia? Are we getting smarter? Are we becoming computer-like? Are we forgetting good manners? Will our brains explode? I have no idea. I just have to wonder.
As far as the conversations happening more privately, I do have to think that is a good sort of evolution for the social media world….I wonder: is social media becoming more visiting friendly? I hope so, I really do.
I’m not a judge in this, but an observer. I see the flaws in these things while also the potential for societal growth. I’m not sure what I think, but I ask myself the questions. I ask you these questions.
What do you think?
I’ll share this Distracto-Crack on Facebook, obviously.