The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is de facto good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned… Facebook.
Facebook, Twitter and the rest do not connect people. They never have and they never will. They merely take us away from the real connections in our lives and turn us into people who either want to show the world how wonderful our lives are or who are desperate for a few likes and some digital recognition that what we have posted online is worthy of praise.
That is of course a generalisation, but there is a growing sense that social networks are encroaching, or in some cases replacing, the unobviously natural act of speaking to people face to face and understanding that physical interaction is infinitely more important than a ‘like’.
It’s not that sharing your moments on social networks is bad or wrong. It’s more the fact that doing so should logically never get in the way of meeting new people or spending time with those you love. It should never take one minute away from anything else you do because it is irrelevant, and unreal in any human sense.
I know people who will go out and then publish 20 photos on Facebook to show you that they have left the house and that they are having fun. I know people whose Facebooks lives are completely different, always better and more interesting, than their real existences. I know people who are obsessed with the attention they get online to the point that we all need to know that they have checked in to a fucking pub or a restaurant, over and over again!
The internet is not evil and neither are social networks. They are merely technology that we have bastardised to work in unhealthy ways. We are changing as a species and see a wider world out there which is more connected and which gives us access to many more people in a day than we would have met in our lifetimes 30 years ago. As I said, this access is not real though and is a parody of friendship that rarely lasts. It’s instant ‘friendship’ gratification multiple times a day and the more you have, the more you want.
I also know people who share funny or interesting things on Twitter and who use social networks when there is a special occasion or to promote their businesses. This makes perfect sense and is a sensible way to exist online. I like to think that I fall into this category of people, just, and that I have stepped back from the thoughts of needing online attention these days. I could not care less if any of you ‘Wordpress like’ this article because that means little. I do, however, appreciate the comments because they are interesting and take the subject-matter further, but if the comments don’t come I will still go back to my real life and enjoy it immeasurably more than my online one.
Am I sounding like an old man? Maybe, but in a time where so many are conflicted about the privacy implications of Facebook vs the inability to voluntarily remove themselves from it, I am wondering how we reached a point where something so utterly worthless become so essential to billions of people?