Wrong Side Of Paradise

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Unsocial Networking

Facebook, one of the many bane’s of my existence, where those once known and those no longer known communicate through pokes and status updates in a virtual popularity contest. Where we can read the real and unreal lives of others in real-time.

Sarcasm aside, Facebook isn’t so bad. In my typical hypocritical style, I am on Facebook, though I’m not exactly an active user. My profile picture is three years old, I haven’t posted a status update in months, and I reply to messages months after receiving them, often logging on to feel as if I’ve just awoken from a coma and missed crucial news like ‘’dis nora virus aint no joke ting’’ (57 likes)
But despite the likes of me, Facebook is a thriving community. I came to learn of this recently when I met a friend of a friend’s.

‘’Give me your Facebook’’. He said.

Strange, it’s almost as common as exchanging numbers today.
So along with a bemused look, I exchanged Facebook details with my soon to be Facebook friend. And when I got home I logged onto (into?) my malnourished and neglected Facebook account to accept the friend request of (let’s call him Mr John).

I had a look at Mr John’s Facebook profile a cacophony of status updates, likes, and hundreds of photos. I was surprised as the Mr John I had met was dull bordering on very dull. So I wondered, are the people we portray online different to the people we are in the real world?


My first thought is the documentary ‘Catfish’ which follows New Yorker Nev Schulman as he falls in love online with whom he assumes is a young and attractive girl with model looks. One of the taglines of the movie is ‘’don’t let anyone tell you what it is’’. But again in typical fashion I’m going to ruin it for you and say that Nev was fooled by an older woman impersonating this young girl he was falling for, and his heartbreak was captured on camera (Sorry).

But that’s an extreme example.

There is a lot more subtlety to the duality I’m trying to talk about. Kristi Pikiewicz PhD (writing for psychology today) sums it up well when she says ‘’ The news feed we create is an idealized “global village” of sorts.  We post status updates to our Facebook “tribe” that promote us as we choose to present ourselves’’.
That makes sense to me, and it sometimes saddens me how easily people can be validated by thumbs up or a like for a photo or a something they post in this virtual world missing a dislike button and where criticism can be erased with a click of a button.

I’ve never felt the need to be validated in the real world or otherwise. I am what I am, I’m a dick…but I’m also kind of amazing, like me or loathe me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t empathise with others who in my eyes have a loose grip on reality. I’d never outright accuse these people of losing their grip on reality however, for fear of getting my head chewed off.

I witnessed this recently when two people I know had an argument where the word ‘’fake’’ was spat out. I’m surprised how defensive people can be when that word is used. The accused’s response? She said ‘’I’m fucking real’’ about a hundred times, I’m real, I’m real, I’m real...At first I was relieved because I was beginning to think she was a figment of my imagination. After I felt wonder, at why she would care…And then I made a very inconspicuous escape tripping over my own feet…But I digress.

The point I’m trying to make is that Facebook is a means of communication, but it’s also a place we can portray ourselves as whoever we want to be. But when our shiny notebooks and tablets are turned off, our true selves remain…the only ‘’selves’’ we should really care about.

And to Mr Zuckerburg, please don’t sue me. I’d love to talk to you about this…maybe on Facebook? But I can’t spare the £61 you’re charging people to message you.


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