I’m sorry but is this what we’ve been reduced to? Inane nonsense commentary on insignificant aspects of our lives followed by a two bit rating system?
This is the human race and its social face at present at least. And by “Social” I’m referring of course to internet networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Look, I’ll start off by saying yes, I have a Facebook account but its merely a tool in which I share personal photos with my family members outside the country. This in and of itself is a fairly benign and understandably acceptable use of such a service. At least I’m arrogant enough to think so. It is after all a far more convenient way of keeping up with friends and loved ones.
So I supposed I’m guilty of speaking out of both sides of my mouth then. Still, I’d scarcely call my once per month login to Facebook a crime against socialization compared to the normal standard user levels of the average 14 year-old.
When I was between the ages of 11 to 15, “Social Networking” was paying a daily visit to that big scary place just beyond the window called “outside” and kicking a football in the park with your mates. Mobile Phones and the Internet were the impossible future technologies of Star Trek episodes and our Halo Reach was Revenge of Shinobi on the Mega Drive aka Sega Genesis. I know what your thinking, “At 27 Dave’s already turned into a been there, done that granddad nursing as bitter feud with the world for every new fangled contraption”. Perhaps I’ve even grown an ear hair or two. Well, I’m not a granddad just yet but I have purchased a tweezers recently. My back is starting to look a little more carpet-like too but we’ll save that for another discussion.
My point in all this is that its not just kids who have become deeply enraptured in this online phenomena. Adults of all ages and dispositions are involved, logging on, posting, sharing their thoughts, linking cute kitten youtube videos and clips of blokes falling of bicycles. We already know we spend way too much time on computers as it is. I mean, does every thought that comes into our heads have to be posted for hundreds of people to see? An example of some of the prattle I’ve witnessed some people post: “I’m watching X-Factor”, “I just had a haircut, about to eat some blueberry pie”, “My heads pounding with a hangover”, “I’m off to bed, Goodnight all”. Its amazing the piffle people will come out with in the written word, that otherwise wouldn’t make the journey to their mouths. The censorship of thought to voice isn’t present on Facebook or Twitter and as a result the garbage truck bypasses the vocal cords and heads straight on to the finger tips. Depositing its load where typing and tapping on a keyboard replace a good old fashioned chin wag and a person to person conversation. I mean for god sake, even a phone call is better than this. Seriously, how is this irrelevant garbage internet traffic (A) worthwhile being sent through a service provider and maintained on a server and (B) worth spending so much time in front of a computer for?
A recent study by Nielsen stated that the average user spends 23% of their surfing time on social networking sites. It’s believed people now spend anywhere from 4 – 8 hours per month on Facebook and thats saying nothing about the people playing the friend exploitative game Farm Ville, which is probably more of a crime against the local publican than World of WarCraft and the Recession combined.
The truth is, society is bored and needs continuous stimulation from the next ‘big thing’, which I suppose isn’t such a bad desire except at the moment our “social” habits are far from social.
Which is ironic because we’re social beings, 80% of communication is body language. The written word can never portray tone, which is so dangerous and can often lead to serious misunderstandings. My only fear is the over reliance on these new social standards and the eventual requirement of being part of them. Already its hard to get certain jobs without having a bloody linkedin account! Theres just too many social networking sites to keep track of and so little of it that really replaces traditional more superior methods of communication like a jaunt to the pub or a visit to a neighbors house.
Overall the ‘art’ of communication and linguistic ability must be suffering as a result of all this. People seem to want information to be reduced to convenient bite sized junks without over elaboration. People don’t read, they skim. Its little wonder literacy levels continue to plummet in the US. Are our future grandchildren destined to become socially inept at one on one face to face communication? Maybe the optimist in me wants to believe theres a human face behind even Facebook. As a technologist I always appreciate the ability to ‘turn off’ from this world of computing for even a moment and refamiliarize myself with reality. To take stock of whats truly important. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go tweet this article to my twitter followers.