N&S Column 29/2/2013 – Facebook

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Someone once asked me if I was aware of “how much crap that I put on the internet about myself”. To be honest, I hadn’t given it too much thought, probably out of fear for what the truth would reveal about me. The internet has become a parallel universe and what were once very clear lines between it and the real life have now become very blurred.
There was a recent survey carried out by intelligent types amongst the working and middle class folk of Britain and Ireland. The question they were seeking answers to was the priority levels of people’s household bills. Before TV, phone, insurance and gas, people said that they would pay their broadband bill first. Probably recognising the irony of not having it top priority, unsurprisingly the only bill deemed more important than broadband was electricity.
So, what does this say about us? Well, more than likely, it says that people are not getting out as much as they used to and not seeing enough their friends in cafes, pubs, clubs or any social setting that was popular in the 80s and 90s. When Facebook arrived it gave people untold access to their family, friends and people they probably would have been happy enough to never hear tell of again. And believe me, it has changed us.
Before, we were happy to easily and understandably distinguish the lines between the “internet” and real life. If we got involved in an argument on the internet we could turn off the computer and dismiss it as a virtual “spat” that we wouldn’t think twice about. But now, with people’s real life interactions becoming outnumbered by their online ones, these arguments and activities are beginning to leave a mark. Think about this for a second, if someone unfriends you on facebook, how does it make you feel? For some I’d imagine the answer is still “I couldn’t care less – they weren’t real friends anyway.” But I know that others would be quite upset, in the same way that if someone you thought was your friend completely blanked you on the street. Because that’s basically what they have done to you on facebook isn’t it?
Another similarity to life is the “like” button on facebook. I find it hilarious actually. You know the way in “real life” when you want to be seen at a wedding by the bride and groom before making your hasty retreat? Or a funeral when you want the family of the deceased to know you were there, before slipping out after communion. The like button can work the same way sometimes. Women are notorious for it actually. A woman in their friend’s list puts up a photo of themselves as a bridesmaid. Frankly, she barely looks presentable. But the women are falling over themselves to get the likes in…they want Bertha to see that they gave them a like, and possibly said that they look “fabulous”…before commenting “in real life” that those dresses must have been picked out by Stevie Wonder.
In the same way that there are extroverted and introverted people in “real life”, they also exist on the internet. Which one are you?
There is the loud type that accepts everyone as a friend and isn’t shy about telling you of the complexities of this morning’s bowel movement. You can expect to see pictures of their dinner as well notifications of every time they partake in any type of exercise or any event that takes them outside their front door.
There is the border line person; we might even call them normal, if such a thing existed. They resisted facebook for as long as they could but eventually got sucked in and now use it with uncomfortable regularity. They will share the odd joke, enter the odd competition, and post up pictures of their odd children. They are generally harmless and inoffensive.
And then there is the “lurker”. This is the person that posts absolutely nothing about themselves and their profile picture is either a shot of a dog, or their children, or maybe a picture of them from a wedding about 5 years ago. These people are as shy in real life as they are in the internet. However, they’re not shy about spying on everyone they know. You usually won’t even know that they’re there until they randomly like something you have done. Be wary of these people – they are gathering evidence about you!
There was a time when we didn’t have to worry too much about what we posted on message boards, twitter and facebook but if you google your name, or your “username” now, you might be frightened by what you’ll find. I know I was!

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About deisesupes

Creative Writer, part time journalist, part time Graphic Design enthusiast.
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