Last week, one of my dude friends challenged me to go one week without logging onto facebook…
I’m just going to say it: It was THE worst challenge I’ve ever gotten myself involved in. I was productive: My laundry got finished, I didn’t spend half my time with my friends looking down at my phone to see what some person I haven’t talked to in eight years was doing for dinner, and I was actually able to hold a conversation that didn’t involve the term, “Oh yeah. Someone else posted that on facebook.”
Along with having nothing to read while I pooped, I was miserable because I really felt this sort of isolation that I’m SURE Maslow would have a hay-day with if he were alive (he’s dead, right?). [Maslow's the guy who developed the theory of a hierarchy of needs: Food, shelter, air, love, attention, affection, friends... I'm not all that sure that facebook was on there, but it should be.]
I’d go to check my phone in the usual routine: Text messages… email… facebook… cnn.com… snow.com… and low and behold, no facebook. Just to help myself out I deleted it from my phone, which means I read a LOT of CNN.com. Too much. The world is a depressing place through the eyes of CNN.com.
Today I read an article* that talked about how psychologists are linking teen depression to an obsession to get as many Facebook friends as possible. In other words, Facebook is the new popularity contest: Who can get the most friends the fastest? This got me thinking: What affect has the modern day type of socialization had on me?
I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg planned for Facebook to be the new school cafeteria of sorts. It seems so simple: All it is is a way for friends to keep in contact. Now it’s become a causative agent for embarrassment for some kids whose friends lists don’t meet their social expectations.
Is it much different for adults? I had to clean about 150 friends from my list a couple months ago because I wanted to make my status updates a bit more spicy and I knew these people would have a hard time hanging with the humor I try to dish out. But we all have those friends who have thousands of friends on the their Facebook pages– and the truth is that I don’t get it. People get weird about what they read on Facebook. I said ‘sex’ the other day in a status update and I was just waiting for someone to respond with a judgment call.
I know I check Facebook more than I blink in a day… I call it my “30-second mental break.” I simply hit a button on my phone and there I am getting my social fix that I crave. It’s my nicotine, since I don’t smoke. I feel a little less lonely in my cubicle when I can quickly get involved in a conversation my friends are having on this public domain… the best part about it is that it’s a non-committal conversation. I can ditch out whenever I need to and I love that. Even better: It’s almost like I have a relationship with this platform because out of all 309 personalities that I am involved with on this website, I can almost take a little bit from each person and create the perfect relationship. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s interactive, he’s famous, he hot, he’s rich, he’s charitable and he likes me! In my hectic and chaotic life, he’s perfect for me.
But what are the consequences of having mostly cyber friends? Are we doomed to become more lonely as individuals living in this social media-driven society? Or does Facebook actually cure loneliness in a way?
I made a vow a while back to keep my Facebook page light. My status updates are comprised of all the dumb thoughts that come to my head that I–for some reason–would love to share with 309 of my closest friends in hopes of getting a laugh out of at least one of them. I’m sure I’ve been blocked from somebody’s news feed–somebody who obviously has no sense of humor and doesn’t know who I am. (I’m Kelley Belvedere, bitch.)
It’s crazy to think about how our world has changed from this idea that Zuckerberg and his “colleagues” had in the early 2ooo’s. Facebook was a culprit for the revolution in Cairo, Egypt earlier in 2011. How’s that for making an impact?
Who knows what the future of humanity holds given our dependence on technology to keep our friendships alive, but in the meantime, I refuse to admit that I have a problem, because to some people it’s a problem. To me, it’s potential.
Gotta go. I gotta get this article on my Facebook page STAT.
*Teen depression article: http://www.kdvr.com/news/kwgn-teens-facebook-use-linked-to-depression-20110328,0,4322058.story