There is something awfully overwhelming and invasive to me about Facebook.
From time to time, I forget why I stay off Facebook chat, and the urge to log on overwhelms me. Before I hastily click “Offline,” I am assaulted with a melange of names, names of people I haven’t seen in years, names of people I haven’t even THOUGHT of in years, names of people I was best friends with in elementary school. From names, it’s an easy jump to profile, then photos, and thus begins the downward spiral of narcissistic voyeurism.
You can click on anyone you want. It’s easy that way to compare your life to yours. You post a comment on someone’s wall, everyone sees it. You post a status, you start a “conversation.” You like something on Facebook, like say for example a product, and the advertisers get to use YOUR name and profile picture to endorse their product to your friends.
Is that not disturbing to anyone else?
I know it’s hypocritical to write about Facebook on Facebook, but the reality of it is most of our lives are increasingly dependent on technology. As frightening to me as the concept of “social networking” is, I can’t deny that it is useful. How else would I be able to know the intimate details of the lives of everyone I’ve ever met? Doesn’t it disturb anyone else how you could sit for hours looking at profiles, pictures, status updates, notes, or anything else ever posted by people you grew up with, people whose lives would have otherwise remained a mystery? Doesn’t it disturb anyone that we’ve volunteered all this information for public consumption?
The internet has grown exponentially since I first started using it to look up super nintendo cheats in 1999. Internet was a luxury at home- something I had only because my dad worked with computers.
Back then, we connected to the internet through the phone lines. You were lucky if it worked half the time, and it sometimes took ten minutes of trying different phone numbers just to connect. You had to wait entire MINUTES for graphics to load- oh, and not anything flashy, just little animated GIFs of dancing hamsters or Pikachus. Oh, and God help you if there were more than four or five images on one page- forget it!
Within just a few years, Instant Messaging became popular. Remember AIM? MSN? Yahoo? From middle school on, I had them all. I hung out in chat rooms. I had dial-up til I was 14. Only then did access to music and media really become available. Xanga and Myspace allowed us to feel the illusion of community. It also allowed us to feel as though we had an audience. Fuck, I found out Antioch was closing via a Myspace bulletin! Remember Top Friends? Top 4 and Top 8? It was a big deal if you got moved out of someone’s Top Friends! Now there’s the Feed. The ever-updating, constant stream of updates. It’s your own life made into clickable, interactive entertainment.
It is up to us whether we let ourselves be sucked into the distraction trap.