1. Provide a false sense of closeness
The whole concept behind online “social media” is to be connected to everyone, everywhere, all the time. There is nothing wrong with this concept; Provides an easy and cost-effective way to stay in touch with distant relatives or friends who have moved. I like to stay on top of what my military colleagues are up to in Germany or Japan through status updates. But should social media take precedence as the default method of staying in touch? Before MySpace, Facebook, and Google+, it meant more when people stayed in touch. Phone calls, personal letters, emails, announcements of special events like weddings or graduations.
All of these differ from today’s status update by one simple factor: they had a purpose. If someone calls you on the phone to ask how you’re doing, show that they care enough to think of you specifically, pick up the phone, and have a polite conversation.
2. Substitution of face-to-face communication
A status update is not a directive. It is simply a thought, a jotted bite of someone’s day, sent onto the Internet without direction or intention. And any answer to that is, well … just that. A nonsensical comment on a nonsensical minutiae. Perhaps in the most absurd possible example of this, my neighbor once complained that he couldn’t speak to me anymore by posting a status. My neighbor … who could walk to my front door and speak to me in person at any time in less than thirty seconds. People just don’t try as hard to maintain friendships when they can read about people’s lives online.
But if you read a statement about an event that is happening in someone’s life, does that tell you how their life has progressed since you last spoke? The overwhelmingly common mindset seems to suggest yes. People take tweets, status updates, and blog posts as a satisfying substitute for phone calls, personal letters, emails, and (God forbid) actual face-to-face communication because this phenomenon has insidiously saturated our daily lives. Perhaps it is the same concept as considering artificial sweeteners like cane sugar. My mother often tells me how different soda tastes now than when she was growing up in the 60s. Will we soon be seeing the wide, disbelieving eyes of the next generation when we tell them to call each other?
3. Penetrating advertising … for everything imaginable
If you’ve watched TV or surfed the web in the last five years, you’ve probably noticed that the unbridled and unstoppable force that is the advertising business has become more ubiquitous than ever. Advertising is a legitimate business and necessary sales strategy, as well as a great way to earn income if you have a way to generate content that you can advertise on. But, especially on the Internet, ads have become wildly ubiquitous. I miss the days when a web page could be accessed without things flying across the screen or listening to disgustingly loud videos that embarrassed the late Billy Mays.
I also miss being able to see a commercial (now there’s a group of words that I never thought I’d fix together) that doesn’t ask you to like a Facebook page. Businesses are now offering discounts, rewards, coupons, special offers, and a host of other benefits in exchange for getting attention on their social media pages. They do it because the number of Facebook users is staggering and because drawing attention to something tends to attract more attention and more attention, etc. If you haven’t realized this yet, wait for the end of a commercial, when a major company displays its name or logo. Most of the time, somewhere in that image, there is a Facebook URL. Why is this necessary when probably every company in the developed world has its own website? Because it is one more way of exerting its presence in the daily lives of its consumers.
4. Parenting narcissism
A few days ago, I participated in an online discussion about the negative side of Facebook for many of its users. My exact description is not what I would normally use in more formal writing, but I would say that “a large cesspool of [attention seeking]Socially handicapped underage narcissists who think likes and comments are the holy grail of measuring self-esteem “is a fairly accurate description, albeit an exaggerated one. Someone else responded by arguing that the same assessment could be made of any public medium that facilitates self-expression. He made a good point, but self-expression in the form of art, music, writing, and speech is (or at least should be) primarily intended for the benefit of the audience, instead of the ego of the creator. And it would hardly call expressive posting a photo of yourself scantily clad with the caption “Ugh, I’m so fat.” This problem is more common among younger audiences and can be easily circumvented by removing these offenders from sight. But the trend still speaks of a latent psychological bias toward self-degrading behavior. And while Facebook may have become the model for the problem, it exists online in many forms, even generating an opposite problem: cyberbullying.
5. Spreading those baby photos too much
It has always been a custom for new parents to want to share everything their wrinkled little monstrosity does. They show images of Junior feeding, bathing, walking, playing with the dog. And in previous years, they were mainly restricted to showing them to people who really cared. Aside from the obvious concerns associated with sharing personal photos online, parents often take things too far when posting baby photos.
Those are captured moments meant for close family and friends, not the girl who lived down the hall in her sophomore year of college or the friend’s coworker from last summer’s barbecue. I was even recently invited to a baby shower via Facebook, by an acquaintance from high school. And he’s still in high school. Even among teenagers, who would have been scorned for their irresponsibility in past decades, it has become common practice to post ultrasounds, baby photos, and related events on Facebook as a way of announcing the child’s life to family and friends, and to others. rest of the world for people who don’t spend enough time reviewing their privacy settings. Some people just don’t seem to know when they’re sharing too much or don’t consider who they’re sharing it with.
6. Make stalking socially acceptable
It’s usually a good idea to get to know someone before getting into a relationship, but it can easily be taken too far. The “stalking on Facebook” has become such a common activity that it appeared as the main plot in an episode of the popular comedy. How i met your mother. Much of the problem revolves around scanning a victim’s photo albums for visual stimulation, whether you can call someone a victim who voluntarily posts such things in full view of the world. But beyond the obviously creepy aspects of admiring vacation photos of a girl in a bikini, there is something extremely unnerving about gathering information about a person over the internet, rather than through conversation.
What can you talk about on a first date when the other person has already learned everything about you on your Facebook page? Or worse yet, how do you react when they tackle something they don’t like and only learned from the internet? In the episode of How i met your mother, the main character (and the biggest romantic failure ever), Ted Mosby, meets a woman and asks her out, promising not to know anything about her on the internet beforehand. He arrives in the middle of the night, surprisingly well on the date, before giving in to temptation. His entire demeanor changes completely after learning about his dramatically impressive life accomplishments through a simple Google search. Here’s a tip if you’re trying to have a meaningful long-term relationship: Don’t do anything Ted does. Always.
7. Devaluation of the concept of friendship
What does it mean to be friends? In my book, it means having an open, trusting, platonic relationship with someone you would never hesitate to lend a hand to when needed. Just as an experiment, check your Facebook friends list and see how many people on it are actually friends by that definition. I’ve had people add me on Facebook whom I’ve only met once … or even never. I have old classmates, people I knew before I moved, friends of friends I met at social events. And mixed with all of this are the few people I would consider true friends.
They do not deserve it. These are people with whom I have grown up, with whom I have helped with difficult decisions, and with whom I have shared intimate secrets. And they just list them with a hundred other random acquaintances, like they mean nothing more to me than a young high school student I helped with homework when I was a teacher’s aide. Sometimes friendships can be formed online, allowing you to meet and interact with people you might not otherwise be able to. Some of my closest friends are people I knew playing video games online. There are always different levels of friendship, but true friends should be respected rather than reduced to another pointless status update on a news source.