The Social Media Syndrome

MarkZuckerberg

I have only just recently made a Facebook page for my blog. If you click here you can ‘like’ it and keep up with all my writing, ranting and whining. Isn’t that just great? Although I am excited about the prospect of this Facebook page perhaps widening my audience, I can’t help but wonder why social media even matters to me and millions of other people all around the world.

It’s simple; we’re narcissistic and we fed the monster. It exists within all of us, this need for attention and connection, but the internet has filled it with candy, cake, frosting and pizza. It’s all fed up and growing steadily. And now what we have is social paradigms much bigger than harmless self-obsession.

My blog’s new Facebook page is proof that this journalist is not innocent of attention-seeking through the web. My generation is completely dependent on the stuff, and unfortunately so am I. And despite its many, many benefits there are days that I absolutely hate it.

The world today is always connected, there’s no escape. Even keeping a Facebook profile private means it will be target of thousands of posts, photos, adverts and discussions. Keeping quiet online is just another way to digest the constant stream of information on that computer screen. People are always included, knowing what others are up to, what others think – there’s no privacy.

There is nothing wrong with over and under sharing online, but it makes it difficult to let go. We all want to know what’s going on or want to post what’s going on. Will you find the next YouTube sensation today? What’s the latest inside joke with the rest of the world? What meme is trending right now? Checking our social media has become an essential part of our days.

If you want to turn yourself off for a couple of hours, you have to turn off everything you own. Your tablet, your computer, your phone, your home phone – there are a million ways to get in touch with a person, and sometimes I think it’s all a bit too much.

Before the times of the internet, you rarely ever got to know about acquaintance’s lives. People graduated, moved on to college and only caught up with their acquaintances if they ever ran in to them. Now, if someone gets a job or takes a bad picture, you can see it the instant it happens. There are no more mysteries. It’s addictive and it can get out of control.

Today, a young journalist tweeted the front page of the Evening Standard without realizing that the content was embargoed. It was a simple mistake, but it has had enormous repercussions. This reporter is probably my age, and he/she made a simple mistake – it’s not that bad, he just published something at the wrong time.

But THE INTERNET makes everything seem a lot worse than it really is. Everything is broadcast to hundreds of people in instants. It’s scary and wonderful at the sane time.

Many things deserve to be broadcast, complained about, exposed and commented. A free internet is important, and I will defend it for the rest of my days. It’s remarkable that I can publish my words (that are probably not polished enough just yet for real websites and publications) on here, and that people can read them. But switching off is important for your mental health. Being included by an internet community can also mean you are excluding yourself from a real life community.

I crave the truth and information, it’s a drug for me. And some of these truths are useless – unfortunately they are no less addictive. With the risk of losing some readers to the real world, consume as much content as you want but turn it all off for a few hours a day. The magical thing about the web is that it will always be there when you need a dose of virtual truth.

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org / Creative Commons License, edited by Nicole Froio.

Like my blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter to keep up with my writing :).

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