Doesn’t have to mean rationalising your friends!
Why does it feel like social suicide when you unplug from various social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter?
A couple of weeks ago it dawned on me just how unproductive my participation in Facebook was. I was wasting far too many hours looking at a site which, in effect, rarely offers any new material and presents the illusion of being in touch with many ‘friends,’ when in fact it has the adverse effect of completely disconnecting you from reality.
No wonder so many firms have banned the site from their work computers – it is one big time drain. But how do you disconnect from it and retain some semblance of communication with all those lovely people who have you on their friends’ list?
Well here’s the truth – most of them are not your “friends” – the majority will be acquaintances – this is pure statistics. It is impossible to try to build and retain any kind of meaningful relationship with over 400+ individuals. If you were to even try, your entire day would be spent in merely saying hello to each and everyone – it’s a false sense of community that Facebook promotes to encourage the dissemination of advertised products.
I know I am not writing anything new here – we all know this already yet we still buy into it. You like something and everyone on your friends list is notified, and many of them will like it too, and the “likes” grow exponentially and so the whole thing is perpetuated ad infinitum!
Why do you think the calls for a Don’t Like button are ignored – I mean no advertiser wants that option to be available do they? Who wants a “dislikes” viral circulating ad infinitum ?
Don’t be fooled – Facebook isn’t there to make you feel warm and cosy – it is there to sell you things you neither knew you wanted nor need! It can make you feel insecure and unhappy, by targeting its Ads based on what you update your status with or what you ‘like.’ If you don’t want to be bombarded with ads promising you the loss of 5 kgs of belly fat don’t like the Special K page.
Facebook, whatever the intentions behind its inception, has become a monolithic drain on our social interactions. I have imposed an electronics ban in our living room, because I had noticed that a complete lack of communication had developed as each individual sat scrolling and browsing and commenting and liking and posting … when there were real, breathing, living people, right there, next to them, with whom to actually talk! I know teens are anti-social but this has taken it to a whole new level!
Now I have only two social media sites that I participate in – this one and my photo journal on Blipfoto. They’ve survived the rationalisation because I can control the amount of time spent on them far more easily and they can be useful for getting things off my chest or exploring pressing ontological questions.
However, at first I felt adrift. I knew all my friends would be passing their days in idle banter, sharing things that made them laugh and having a great time. But it’s amazing how quickly my day has adjusted to no Facebook, and my friends have too. Those who are clearly real friends have found other ways to communicate with me and I feel that relationships are strengthening as a result – we are actually talking to each other again. This is far more meaningful to me as a human being than any amount of likes on a status update!
I don’t blame Facebook or the internet for this development – it is how we use these things that makes the difference. I was recently sent a link to a fascinating panel on this very topic run by the Milken Institute – you may have to watch it in bursts, as it runs for over an hour, but it contains much food for thought on how the internet is affecting the way we think and live.
My advice for the day – unplug – even if it’s just for a few hours! You’ll notice the difference.