With the coming of the internet, there has been a rise in social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook. There are certainly many advantages to such websites, however, there are also some disadvantages that I will discuss here.
Before the age of the internet people were mainly reliant on face to face interaction. Sometimes they would call each other or send a letter if they lived very far away. However, for the most part much of the typical socializing took place in person. In many ways I think it was better that way. At least you knew who is who and what is what. People were more real and not so full of themselves. There just weren’t as many narcissists walking around, you know?
Once the internet went into effect, suddenly people had this ability to take part in an alternate reality. They could be anything and anyone they wanted while hiding behind their screen. They could edit their lives, their bodies, and even their personalities. Social media allowed people to gain popularity points or “likes” for designing an image that many people liked and wanted to interact with on a regular basis. It seems that websites like Facebook and Twitter encourage a certain level of fakeness in people. The problem happens when these fake images are not at all congruent with reality. How would the individual cope? How would the people around them deal?
Often times we see these fancy pages on Facebook detailing people’s extravagant lifestyles and vacations. We see expensive diamond rings and shiny outfits. We see fit bodies, birthday cakes, and kisses. However, what we do not see is the not so precious every day reality of these magnificent people. We do not see the grunt work that it takes to go on these vacations and to buy those diamond rings. We do not see all the petty fights and arguments. We do not see the cheating husband and the wife that chooses to close her eyes to that reality simply to stay comfortable financially.
At first I actually tried to keep up, you know? Like I updated my LinkedIn and Facebook pictures and just tried to make everything look more appealing and professional. After a while I came to the realization that I would just be feeding a monster. I mean I do not look like a supermodel and in fact my look will change over the years. Maybe my look will actually change for the worse. Do I really want everyone to see that? I am a pretty honest and straight forward person and just hate lying to people unless I absolutely have to. The thing is that in order to keep up a great image on social media, you have to be willing to lie. Life is not perfect and people will inevitable go through rough times and make a mess of things. It is important to keep around the people that will be there for us through the tough times and not just the times when we are successful and everything is looking shiny. To be quiet frank, things have not been very shiny for me in years.
So what do you think I ended up doing with my social media profiles? Well, just about nothing. Yes, I have my passport picture from like three years back on my Facebook and my LinkedIn profile. Do I now look anything like that picture…well, somewhat. Do I care? Nope. I have some basic professional skills listen on my LinkedIn profile, but I chose not to include where I work. My job simply does not define me. I might switch my job many times over and it will not make me any more or any less of a person. As for my Facebook profile, well, I locked the whole thing down and just have my education listed there and nothing else. If anyone cares to know more about me maybe they will pick up the phone like in the good old days and actually have a real conversation with me instead of relying on some fake social media image.
So after I gave up trying to compete with everyone on social media I felt a sense of relief. I no longer feel a need to keep up with the Joneses because my worth is not in my pretty face or my fancy house or that brand new job I got. It is in who I am as a person and how I treat other people around me. Anyone that matters will not care about those superficial things, but will be able to see me past them and will appreciate me.
As for everyone else posting these overly positive Facebook images and creating this false life on the internet that does not exist, I want to wish these people the best of luck and also want to say that I feel very sorry for them. If your life is truly that great, I doubt you will have any need to advertise.
Some people are so caught up in living a lie that they no longer know the truth. They created a lie so good that they actually managed to deceive themselves. I mean their reality must have been so horrible that if they were to face it head on they would not be able to bear it. So they live a lie. Day in and day out they pretend to be happy. They surround themselves with people who are only willing to see their positive characteristics and not say anything negative about them even if its true. Are these people truly happy? I doubt it. However, I guess by denying the truth, they are temporarily able to relieve themselves of the emotional pain that would come with facing their reality.
As for me, I choose not to participate in this charade. I live as a whole person and I can face my light and my dark and accept both. I do not need to hide behind a fake persona and have fancy social media profiles. I can just live and be comfortable as I am in my own skin. Many people these days are afraid of people who are able to accept themselves as they are. There is something very powerful in that and power creates fear and often times enemies.
Now, if you are running an online or an offline business, certainly social networking can have its advantages. You can create a company page and advertise your product or services. You can also create a following and make repeat sales in this way. You can gain access to information about your competitors and steal some of their business perhaps. Suddenly, things that would have cost you an arm and a leg to do for your business, you can now do for pennies on a dollar. Social media allows for your dreams to become a reality.
On a personal level, social networking allows you to escape your reality and become a part of a better world filled with dreams and ambitions. Suddenly you logon to Facebook and everything is possible. You can be anything and anyone you like. There are almost no limits unless you are doing something illegal or particularly offensive.
If you happen to be particularly antisocial in your real life, it can be very easy to make new “friends”. Since people do not know you for who you really are, they do not mind becoming your friend on social media. They know that they will never see you in real life and so any type of relationship that will develop will be completely inconsequential. This could be a good outlet for homebound or lonely people as well.
Same goes for single people. Often times you could have a flirty conversation online with someone and never have to meet them in person or take any responsibility for what you said. This could be a good way for recently single folks to have a little no strings attached fun.
The issue with social media is that what happens online sometimes can translate into reality. Sometimes it can have negative consequences for real people. What happens when you meet a friend or a romantic partner online and they make themselves out to be something they are not? Would you be angry or disappointed with them if you met in person? Would it even be safe to meet in person? My best suggestion if you are meeting someone in person that you have met on the internet, pretend that you are meeting this person for the first time. Pretend that you know nothing about them and always meet in a public place. Sadly, social media is full of people of are nothing like what they seem online and the reality of these people is not very pleasant to say the least.
I feel like social networking often further isolates people and actually prevents them from going out there and finding real relationships with real people. Social media often lets you participate in a reality that does not exist. Personally, I would rather participate in a reality that I know is real as opposed to me living in some sort of dream world where everything is perfect, but nothing actually exists.
This social media experience reminds me of men attempting to construct the perfect partner. They purchase a robot who will do and say all the right things according to their preference, however, the robot can never truly care about them and of-course is not real.
Now social media could be a good resource for digging up personal details about people that you cannot find through a typical background check. However, once again I would be careful with your newfound knowledge because many things that appear real on social networking websites just are not real at all.
Social media could also be used as a way to connecting to old acquaintances or colleagues. However, my suggestion would be to try and meet in person as soon as possible and not to keep any relationship internet based for too long. When you meet in person you might find that you do not even like the person that you have met and that they are not who you thought they were.
The best thing that you can do is just be yourself and hopefully the right person will like the real you and will appreciate you. If not, then I guess at least you alway have yourself.
Some other concerns associated with social networking are crimes like cyber bullying. Since your personal information and you are so easily accessible to the general public, you might be putting yourself at risk for unwanted contact from bullies and criminals that could try to blackmail you and get you to pay money or do something you otherwise would not want to do.
Additionally, some people become addicted to social networks. It is kind of like porn addiction. People may feel lonely and they use these social networks to “connect” to the outside world. Accept, sadly none of it is real and this addiction will just make the feeling of loneliness worse.