Posted on December 28, 2007
Filed Under Culture & Technology |
The Times Online has an interesting article entitled “Facebook suicide: the end of a virtual life.” In a semi-humorous way, it provides a modicum of hope that there still exist people in this world who recognize just how pathetic social networks can be.
The article is interesting if for no other reason than the fact that it touches on quite a few of the subjects I’ve discussed in previous blog posts. Among the most salient points:
- Carolyn Axtell, a senior researcher at the Institute of Work Psychology and Management School at Sheffield University, notes that “There are a limited set of cues available on sites like this. You don’t get the subtleties of voice tone, facial expressions or body language you usually have when interacting with others and that can make interpreting the meaning of messages difficult. You can write something flippantly, which others take seriously, or come across as aggressive when that’s not your intention at all. I can see how relationships can be damaged as a result and when that happens people will want to leave to put things right.” Sounds vaguely familiar.
- The fact that you don’t control your own privacy is increasingly obvious. As Matt Holme, a 24 year-old derivatives broker from London stated after finding pictures of himself online that were taken by others, “I no longer had any anonymity and that was disconcerting.” And as Martin Cloake, another London resident comments, “It all felt a bit stalkerish, the way that you could find out what people were doing almost daily, see pictures of them (or yourself) that other people had posted and trawl through other people’s lists of friends to see who you knew.”
- People with a minimal amount of intelligence will eventually figure out that, just like in real life, they’re nobodies. As British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy fellow Phillip Hodson observes, “Building a Facebook profile is one way that individuals can identify themselves, making them feel important and accepted. But this can lead to disappointment once people realise how insignificant their online existence really is.” As I’ve pointed out before, there are far too many inflated egos online and the sooner they’re deflated, the better.
- Despite all their “friends,” Facebook addicts still apparently report the same number of “close” friends as non-addicts. As such, all that “poking” seems to be going to waste. In other words, you’re just as unpopular as you were before Facebook.
While the Times Online piece is a little bit over the top, the notion that users have ended their lives in the virtual worlds we call social networks “so that they can resume life in the real one” seems like a damn good thing. There’s no substitute for a face-to-face interaction. Posting on a friend’s wall is not as rewarding as picking up the phone and making a long-distance call. Having lunch with a cousin seems a lot more enjoyable than buying him or her a virtual pie. And of course, sending a poke to a hot woman on Facebook is not nearly as satisfying as picking her up in real life at a nightclub.
Unfortunately, as I’ve noted before, more and more people (especially the young) seem to be retreating from the real world into virtual worlds. I can only hope that some of them will come to the realization that to save their own social lives, they have to commit suicide in Second Life.
Dramatic Tidbit: Drama 2.0 is more likely to publish several posts (or one great post) in the run up to the weekend, as he has tonight, because his drinking routine begins on Thursday. To fully maximize weekend excitement, Drama 2.0 begins a liquor lubrication process a day earlier than most. This not only prepares him for the that occur on Friday and Saturday nights, but also results in the urge to blog. After all, liquor has always been a writer’s best friend, opening up the mind to the creative ether. The sacrifices made to open this portal, however, are not easy. Drama 2.0 reserves Sunday through Wednesday for detoxification and a vigorous exercise routine that enables him to maintain his six-pack abs.Print This Post