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Too Much Sociality A Bad Thing?

All right, confession time. I have to get this out of the way before I start dumping on this topic. Deep breath…I don’t have an online profile. Gasp! Whew, that feels good. No, I do not have an account on MySpace, Facebook, Linkedin, blah-blah, etc. Does that make me feel unconnected, like I’m floating about in the oxygen-less black pools in outer space? Ha! Heck, no. Although Twitter is intriguing me, being able to get short (short, yes! Time-saver), current updates on what someone (like an author) or some organization is doing.

Facebook, etc makes sense to me in the following ways: keeping in touch with someone who lives far away (get pics and video) or a causal way to chat with someone you once knew well, but don’t anymore, like high shcool (feels like an email accomplishes this though), networking (hello, Linkedin). It’s also great that people are taking take advantage of where the masses are and marketing themselves on MySpace. If they weren’t, they’d need to fire their PR people or take a PR class. But wanting to know how my friend is feeling this morning while sitting in her oh-so-boring history lecture? Whatever, I’ll ask her later when I see her. If I talked about everything online with her, I wouldn’t need to see her in person. Kidding. But while she’s posting on someone’s wall, or whatever it is people do, I’m trying to pay attention to the class that I’m, you know, paying for. So I am amazed that people are on Facebook during class. What’s so urgent that you need to tune out the prof? Is it addiction? Probably not, more like boredom (why are you taking that class then?). You really can’t define addiction as being on for six hours a day (hopefully not at once though) since so much is online now that it forces us to be there.

Growing Up Online, however? It’s frightening how these teens don’t give much thought to what they post online about their so-called public privates lives. My biggest worry about putting any content online is, “how does it represent me? How does it present me to other people?” I mean…baring the thongs? Why? Why would somebody want to do that? Clearly, the freedom of posting whatever content they want is going to their heads, because they are not thinking of the ramifications for later in life. Even if it’s the minimal, “I can’t believe I posted that, I’m so embarrassed. “ Never mind what kind of person you’re putting out there for other people to see (College admissions?! How did you not see that coming??). It’s like the same mentality of speeding in the car with your friends, thinking you won’t ever get hurt because it’s just. So. Cool. And it’s the Moral Panics Online where teens (girls at least) are more willing to try something risqué when they’re around their friends. Hence, the thongs, I guess.

When Shayla asked us what we thought about Second Life, if the trend of keeping your face glued to the screen for hours on end was scary, I mentally answered with a big, fat YES! Scary enough for me that I wanted to say it creeped out the very fiber of my being. I’m fine with the concept of the game (I remember good ‘ol Sim City). It’s people like Mr. Hoogestraat who have just gotten so sucked into it (that’s addiction) that they’re willing to spend however many hours building a virtual coffee shop while his (living and breathing)wife sits around in the living room watching TV. (Side note – what’s up with every time the article mentioned her, she was watching TV? But the boob tube is another topic.) So that someone would devote so much of his or her waking hours on this game is disturbing to me. To detach yourself from what’s going on in the world – politically, economically, that you forget to eat – just makes me shake my head until I can’t stand the swaying motion anymore. Yes, the game and other SNS-related software can be a way to express oneself, put your “real” self out there and meet new people, but to essentially shun life can’t be healthy. But I don’t really have an answer for it because we can’t regulate people’s personal time.

I guess this blog post comes across more like a rant, but – oh well. Web 2.0 is like a diet. Everything can be fine in moderation.