Welcome everyone to Facebook Anonymous. I’d like to welcome our newest member: Me.
It can happen to any information junkie. One day, it’s a fun thing to do. The next, it’s a full on addiction.
What am I speaking of? Facebook, of course.
I dove deep into Facebook. Too deep, perhaps. Over the past few months, I have weaned myself of the habit. Yes, I would consider it a habit. A vice. An escape. Something that an otherwise perfectly normal human being can become terribly addicted to.
Social media offers something akin to the pub down the street where everyone knows your name. It’s a place where you can chit chat, contribute and be entertained all without leaving the comfort of your home or office. Perhaps the convenience is too great. Never before have you been able to stay in touch while keeping people at a safe and comfortable distance. Stalking people whom you have ‘friended’ or have low security settings is easy and not frowned upon (though it should be).
In the beginning it was grand. I connected with 20, then 50, then 100 – before I knew what happened, I had over 200 ‘friends’. How is that possible. I talk to perhaps 2 dozen friends in ‘real life’ with any regularity. How could I have 200 more?
Your ever expanding network of strangers
You know those people you went to High School with? Perhaps you didn’t know them that well, but well enough that when Facebook ‘suggested’ you become friends because you went to the same school – you didn’t resist. Mind you, if you ran into these people in the street, you might take note that you saw them, but avoid making actual contact.
Then there was the drinking buddies. Then came the family. Things got dicey there – all of a sudden cousins and in-laws are looking at what you are posting in your status updates. Your very religious father-in-law probably could do without seeing your “I can’t believe how drunk I got last night” post*. God forbid you post something about a political leaning. Consider yourself uninvited to the next family gathering. Being ‘social’ just got difficult.
The term ‘friend’ is has been stretched for profit. The more friends you have, the more data you create and the more of a profit center you are for Facebook. So why not ‘friend’ old schoolmates? Acquaintances from business dealings? Musicians who’s profiles are managed by a marketing guy? Friend them all!
OMG! I just updated my status! ROTFL!!
Early on, Facebook hosted just a few folks who were fairly articulate and had good status updates and photos to post. Most I appreciated involved humor – mostly the self deprecating type. The photos were generally vacations, children and other ‘important moments in life’. It had some meaning, use and wasn’t the center of the universe for everyone.
Then, it got easier to post anything.
‘I had oatmeal for breakfast.’ ‘Gosh, i need a haircut.’ ‘wut is up with Palin, dawgs!?’
Photos went downhill.
There’s Jody with her neighbor’s cat. Oh, and there’s what Jody had for dinner last night. And there’s a stone shaped like Jesus that Jody found on the ground.
Then… the quizzes you were supposed to repost and and answer yourself.
Favorite Frankenberry flavor: Muckleberry
You wake up in bed with your best friend, what do you say and you can only use 3 words: Why, God, why?
You get the idea. It became less of a place where people were posting somewhat interesting content to a place where people would barf content everywhere in hopes of something. But what?
A laugh? A comment from an old flame? Letting everyone and Gods earth know you had a crush on your 5th grade science teacher?
What drivel became of it. For the poor souls without an Adblocking plugin to their browsers, constant inundation with ads and targeted marketing. Marketing that knows more about you than it should.
The Social Impact to Society
It’s apparent that we’re all addicted to content. The mere fact that Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and other social networking sites are as prolific on the Internet should be evidence enough. As consuming-natured human beings, I believe we have a deep neural need to consume information. It’s what lead the book printing phenomenon of the early industrial age, the popularity of news publications at one time and the initial growth spurt of the Internet. I liken it to the addiction that city dwellers have to be in the loop, never want to miss a moment and staying current with the constant goings on of friends and the world around them. We have a need for stimulation. Social Media is stimlating.
But what frightens me is what we as human beings lose with the deep addiction to Social Media. A reduction in ability to focus can be observed. It’s easier to get your ‘fix’ on Facebook than it is to go and do some real work. In fact, it looks like you’re doing real work to many managers when you’re on Facebook. Patience is lost, too. We thought is was bad that everyone has declined into a ’30 second attention span.’ It becomes 5 with the Facebook generation.
Is it right for me? Maybe it was once…
Ask yourself this, fellow Facebook dweller: What realistic purpose does it serve to be constantly in contact and know everything about all your friends? Is the information overload serving a beneficial purpose?
We lose the ability to sit down with our Facebook friends in person and catch up. We already know what’s new with them. Often, we know too much. What is there to talk about? I add to that the value of your relationship with friends is degraded. When you already know everything, there’s nothing left to share.
So think for just a moment – why do you spend so much time on Facebook? Is it doing you any good to grow and prosper as a human being?
If the loss of personal growth, constant distractions, awkwardness with friends and loss of attention span aren’t enough to convince you – consider your personal life story is being sold to every advertiser that wants to know what it is. Your participation in Facebook grants them the right to use you in ways that should alarm you. I can safely say, I don’t miss having a Facebook page anymore. My life is far more interesting again now.
My name is Greg, and I deleted my Facebook page.
* For illustration purposes only. This never actually happened.