Most of us who are online have a presence on Facebook. Somewhere along the way, this site became the most popular in the world, and seems to have most users addicted to it. I admit to using it myself on a daily basis, even if that use is more often now being limited to a few minutes. I also see it warping self-perceptions, influencing views, thoughts, habits, and even the way we relate to each other. It’s a powerful network, and one that is deeply flawed because let’s face it, we are none of us perfect.
I’ve explored other sites recently, Seen, tsū, Path, ‘Ello – all offer interesting alternatives to the mighty Facebook, but none appear to have caught on. Personally, I think Seen has a great setup, and is a nice, secure site. No one’s heard of it, really. MySpace would be popular to this day if it hadn’t been turned into a site solely for musicians. I used to have over 1200 connections there, now it’s about 100… and when I think to go there, it’s bereft of contact. The world wants Facebook, but for too many, it’s just a trolling ground for ways to spread mean-spiritedness or outright malice.
Facebook’s biggest block to being the network is strives to be is, in my opinion only, the structure of reporting without investigation, groups that can be “secret” and therefore anything can be posted and people get locked into this fantasy world so easily. I set my professional page to be visible only to people 21+ years of age, yet supposedly grown men and women have reported posts because they dislike the curve of a male arse, or some other inane reason. Frankly, it’s childish and vindictive after a time–anonymity insures those with nothing better to do will be able to continue trolling for things to complain about, to make them feel like they’re contributing to decency, of course.
It’s not Facebook, is it? It’s the bored, lonely, unhappy, and petty people who get some kind of power rush when they can interfere with people they don’t even know. I’m not naïve enough to think everyone is sweetness and light and fair play, but this site is at its core supposed to be a social networking site. These days, it’s become the playground of pornography, hate, violence mongering, and just plain ugliness so often. Attacking people from the safety of your home because you’ll never have to face the consequences is pretty pathetic. But, it’s a way of life for some people who engage on social sites.
I’m an author, I do my share of promoting my work. Maybe too much. I miss the days when logging in to Facebook meant I would get to chat with friends, laugh a little, and just relax. Groups, and I have a small one filled with only a couple dozen friends, were great fun because they gave everyone present a feeling of unity and friendship. I admin a few promotional groups with a combined membership of 50,000 people. The garbage that is posted in these groups is truly amazing some days. Why would anyone post a video of themselves naked and masturbating? With an invitation to look at more videos? This wasn’t considered a violation of FBs terms of service, but models and their professional photographers are forever being banned, or threatened with deactivation.
We are all entitled to our personal choices and tastes. BUT, if you want to use a site like Facebook, or any other social network, you agree to follow the rules when you sign up. I don’t particularly agree with all of Facebook’s terms of service, but I do my best to abide by those rules. I took a step back many months ago and re-evaluated my personal stance on a lot of things related to social media. I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t much social about any of these networks. Psychologically and emotionally, there is a great deal of negative and harmful content pushed on us daily.
It makes me long for a simpler time, when people took the time to look at each other, to listen, and to care what was being said. Everywhere we look, heads are bent over electronic devices, and people are missing the reality in which they exist. We can’t even say live anymore in many cases, because the artificial bubble of the internet has taken control of an entire generation and taught them to be selfish, indifferent, and cruel because they don’t ever have to face consequences head on.
The global village is vast, but life felt closer and more real twenty-five years ago. I love the immediacy of talking to friends on the other side of the world, it’s true, but it would be lovely if to do that I didn’t have to log in to a site that seems determined to suck the joy and life out of us on a daily basis. And let’s not even get started on the effects of being an author in the digital age, because that’s another cesspool situation with its own brand of horror and nasty to go with it. That said, I think I’ll crawl back into my archaic little cave and read a book–paper, not stored on a device, after all a tree gave it’s life to provide me with this luxury…