The vortex that is social media.
~ KiemKong Babezilla
I have been connected to social media since about 2000. I have held down accounts on blogspot, livejournal, deviantart, 4chan, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, model mayhem, Instagram and obviously Tumblr. At no point in these 13 years have I been without one of these media for projecting my thoughts, feelings, terrible poetry, teenage-angst-ridden webcam photos, food porn, cat photos, and somewhat shameful hash tags.
Just over a week ago, I deactivated all three (3) Facebook accounts and deleted all three apps off my iPhone for good measure. While this may seem like overkill, it had to happen. I was embroiled in business other than my own. I was checking it at all hours of the day even subconsciously. I was checking involuntarily. I was posting constantly. It had suckered up my life. I compare my Facebook addiction to my teenaged stoner days during which I’d check the fridge constantly in a daze hoping for something to magically materialise when in truth I hadn’t put anything there – I had to venture out and seek the magic myself and that meant I had to search for it elsewhere ie in the real world.
While I cannot speak for other users I can certainly make some sense of my own addiction to the social media machine. Yes ironically I am posting on a social media site; I am well aware of that.
So to make some sense of my addiction madness we must rewind to my school days. There I was dreadfully unpopular and my awkward phase extrapolated well beyond the end of school. I had one friend and felt that the world was against me and no-one understood me, and then I discovered the Internet. There I was able to pretend I was cool, pretty and popular what with my several hundred friends and followers on various networking sites (which mind you, I had privately messaged each and every individual to “share for share”, “comment for comment” or “like for like” in order to boost what looked like popularity). Even now, I’m not sure if anyone who knows me solely via the Internet knows that I remain awkward and weird, and that I have my quirks. The only thing I was able to project online was that I was angry and able to rant without (always) making it sound like I was complaining about every little first world problem.
My observations with Twitter and Facebook are that people often used those two sites in particular to complain, whinge, cry, bitch, moan. There was rarely anything of substance, and more dangerously, I’ve found recently, is that people started seeing things posted and taking it as gospel without finding out for themselves elsewhere whether this “information” was true or not. This “information” could have been the truth behind a photo or even a comment made in passing; it suddenly became personal and people became crusaders for a truth they had made for themselves before verifying what they had seen or read. Crushingly again, I had seen people launch into full keyboard warrior mode over little things that had been said which may or may not have been about them. It kinda made me think – if we didn’t have such a social media explosion, people would be forced to speak to each other’s faces and be forced to be social. Being able to message someone on Facebook only because they were online made it far too easy or convenient. Cutting a friend out became as convenient as blocking them on Facebook rather than direct confrontation. It has made us (well, me) more antisocial in real life because I was granted a power to speak to people in the comfort of my own home without needing to kick them out when I needed sleep. I know there are a great number of positives in social media, Facebook in particular, but people of a certain disposition (myself included) shouldn’t be allowed to post horseshit constantly to a hoard of sycophants who will “like” in agreement without knowing what I was actually saying.
While we encroach on iGen (a generation of people that have never known life without the Internet) I think many of us that were around prior to this boom should disconnect sometimes just to remember what it was like before it all happened. I remember the good old days where I was excited to receive an email or a text message spontaneously, just because someone was thinking of me, rather than a PM or an IM from someone who just happened to see that I was online and available for a chat (even if I wasn’t).
Like for like?