Something fantastic and almost unheard of happened this past weekend, combined with a post from Benjamin Spall prompted me to write this blog post. Last weekend I joined the ranks of Cobain, Morrison and Buckley in the illustrious 27 club and celebrated with a family lunch. Here’s to not dying this year and to getting my blogging hat back on after a brief hiatus. (This isn’t the fantastic thing, stay with me here)
These past few months I’ve been trying to farewell Facebook (fb). I couldn’t care less about status updates, people’s 482 photos they took on their latest overseas holiday, the latest craze in baking1 or procreating or the list of people that fb’s algorithm has decided that I may know. The fantastic thing previously hinted at was that I caught up with the family; and by not perusing the fb newsfeed like a troll this last few weeks, I had no idea what they’d been up to. We… wait for it… caught up on each other’s lives! (gasp) Resorting to good old fashioned conversation, being anti-social-media had encouraged us to be social. You could argue then that being pro-social-media encourages being anti-social? Hey, who needs to congratulate you on your job promotion with a few beers at the pub, I’ll just ‘like’ your status update?
A daily dose of celebrity news does nothing to bruise the ego, but have the fat kid from high school put up a photo of his new car and you’ll question your choice of bicycle.
Let’s get all nostalgic and hark back to the days of going to a friends for the first time and laughing at childhood photos; we’ve lost this privilege on the share everything network. Imagine bumping into a long lost high school pal, and not knowing what they’ve been up to. Is it a little perverse to have not seen someone for the past five years, but been privy to each of their holidays, Friday night antics, new arrivals of babies or relationship breakups? Why are we openly sharing this information with the world at large?
It was 2006 BCfb (Before Civilisation lived on fb), an overseas adventure was capped of by re-living the trip at home: printing off the best holiday snaps, digging through the luggage for ticket stubs & brochures, putting them together in a dodgy banana leaf photo album. You’d show off your new-found album, your show-and-tell totem for your friends & family to enjoy. Fast-forward to 2011 ADfb (After Diabolically putting your entire life on fb) where the familiar routine of arriving home after an overseas trip is closed out by choosing your best 383 odd holidays snaps including a good few selfies2 thrown in for good measure, clicking upload, tagging yourself and friends and awaiting some envious comments. There’s the look-at-me faux fame element to uploading your life for all to see.
Algorithms Are the New Matchmakers
Forgive me for missing the point here, we’ve been given a powerful and free tool to stay in touch with family and friends located anywhere in the world. Underneath all that we’ve also been given a perverse advertising and data collection machine. Looking beyond age and gender, an algorithm of you and your friends conversations, what you’ve liked, what time you’ve liked it, what you did on fb before and after liking it? I don’t think George Orwell was referring to Mr Zuckerberg, but big brother may be watching you. Stay at home mothers are now the stars of their own Facebook feed. Unfortunately there’s no TV executive there to pull the plug on the sad ratings flop. ‘Waiting for hubby to cook dinner’ and ‘just went and got the mail from the letterbox, lol’ just doesn’t pull a crowd like it used to.
Simply by clicking ‘Add as Friend’ – never before has it been easier (or harder/more confusing?) to define a friendship. Before it used to be buying someone a beer, helping someone move house, going to the park to kick the footy, now it’s clicking a button, and granting someone instant access to your holiday snaps of the last 5 years, your list of friends & family, seeing just how drunk you got last Friday night. Friends have been redefined as ‘that guy that works at the video store’, ‘that loud woman from your friend’s uncle’s bbq he had last week’ or ‘that hot girl from year 9 who you sort of knew but not really’.3
Facebook is for being friends with people you know but don’t like, twitter is for following people you don’t know but like.
Originally designed as a way to have the college experience from the comfort of your dorm room, now it’s where you can update your status about how much oxygen you’ve just stolen. At that instant, your Nan, boss at work, brother & sister and the kid who crapped his pants in year 10 can all see how much oxygen you’ve just stolen, and ‘like’ it! (they can even comment on it, confirming that they are also an oxygen thief) What’s the solution? The experts suggest that to increase your productivity simply throw away your television. Two hours x five nights per week x fifty-two weeks per year would give you an extra twenty-two full days per year of productive time! What they failed to mention, was not to fill any of your bonus five hundred and twenty hours with social media.
Zuckerberg’s monster has a place, being able to keep in touch with family and friends, and sharing holiday snaps with friends across the globe is priceless.
To Infinity and Beyond
How am I using social media in the year 2011 AD? I’m not a 300+ friend hoarder, hell, I don’t even know 300 people. I like my life to be just that, mine. Work colleagues, if they’re into it I’ll keep in touch with them on LinkedIn to see what they’re up to. Photographers and iPhoneographers, we’re snapping away on flickr and instagram. Reporting on the daily grind, the nuances of the day to day, wondering what your favourite celebrity had for breakfast or finding allies in writing, thinking, photography and music tastes? – That’s the joy of twitter4. Family & close friends – it’s a bit of a stretch to expect people to check-in to four different online haunts to laugh at your silly photos or try to contact you, so for now Facebook seems to have a niche as a catch-all place marker.
Google + is the new kid in town. Those who have already said their goodbye’s to Facebook and Twitter have taken to Google+ like an heiress to a porno. Is Google+ the new revolution that’s superbly innovative and something we should all migrate to? Or is it another capitalist company listed on a stock exchange who’ve spent millions of dollars on research & development in looking for additional avenue to advertise via? Sorry to burst your Bubble+.
The challenge? Go outside and play. Exchange a Google+ hangout for a real hangout. Swap a comment on a friend’s Facebook status for commenting on a lunch you’re sharing with them. Don’t think twice about updating any form of social media status about being outside and playing, and definitely don’t take any selfies. Enjoy yourself, you’re not on E! or the cover of who weekly, relax.
Several great thinkers have already posted their thoughts on social media. What are yours? Between Facebook, twitter, linkedin, google+, foursquare, etc I’m not sure where going to have time for face-to-face interaction anymore.
- Go here and admire these, I ‘like’ this craze in baking. Go here. Order some. http://www.cupcakesbykerry.com ↩
- Social media has gifted us with the invention of the ‘selfie’; a self-portrait (predominantly taken by teenage girls), camera high above the head in one hand, you and your BFF’s on the dance floor, photo primarily filled with your hairy underarm. ↩
- You know who you are, keep up the good work. ↩
- Twitter’s given me a live stream and photos of the best wedding I’ve never been to, the most insulting birthday card I’ve ever received and most of the photography tips I know are via twitter. ↩