My primary issues with Facebook (and all other social networking mediums)read more
Facebook ultimately allows societal mendacity.
Social networking allows for people to live as an alias. Representations of oneself online are never identical to ones real self. Whether personal information is valid or not is irrelevant, ones feelings of someone are typically not formed from these insignificant facts, they come from that persons ambience, how that person makes one feel. If this persons atmosphere is misrepresented online (which it undoubtedly is), the interactions between that person and others become skewed, unreal. An example to illustrate would be two people A & B. If A & B were to have a conversation in person, it would go differently than if they had the conversation on the phone, and even differently if they had it online. This is obvious, known by mostly everyone. The purpose of this is to identify the difference between a person to person conversation and an online conversation. Following, I will examine the social opportunities these networks provide in which there is no real-life equivalent. These interactions are dynamic, each affects the next. As a whole, a group becomes more comfortable in all forms of interaction, this is due to the lack of “real” danger and awkwardness within a conversation. These feelings of danger, fear, anxiety are an inhibitors to prevent action, or when threatened, initiate action. Social networking decreases the potency and thus effects of these feelings, which means an action committed on a social network will not induce the same degree of fear or anxiety of an action performed in person. An example of this occurring is online bullying. This change in inhibitory threshold contributes greatly to misrepresentation.
Social Networking & Misrepresentation:
The effects of a person on a social network can allow them to behave in an inflated manner. Social Networks are filled with exaggerations, these exaggerations can more aptly be described as a misrepresented mood. This is due to the ease of expressing emotions online that are stronger or weaker than they are or rather would be in person. A simile to this situation is asking the question: “Would you rather live a dull life, or an interesting one?” The answer unanimously “interesting.” Of course, this misrepresentation is deeper, given the complexity of emotions, a response on a network may be stronger or weaker, but it certainly will not include the comprehensive response that would be displayed in person. This misrepresentation may lead to mistreatment (that is not to say bad, but not in line with the expected treatment given a mood). For instance, and simplicities sake, if one was to represent themselves as if they were in a good mood, when they were in fact in a bad mood, their pleasure/comfort in a response will be not be adequate. It is as though you were to speak to someone who was just fired from their job as if they had just given you a cheery “hello.” This misinterpretation is compounded, and conversation eventually becomes so convoluted one member must ask what it is the other means.
Difference in environment:
- In entirety: Social networks amongst other things deviate from real interactions in that they allow for multiple simultaneous conversations, they treat individuals with equal importance and equal availability to speak, and they promote interaction regardless of its importance. Social networks allow one to have a private conversation in a publicized format. Social networks allow one to be submerged/enjoy conversations between peers that are unimportant and unrelated to oneself. This allows for an alteration of social boundaries set in real social relations.
- Individually: Although this phenomenon has existed long before social networks, social networks increase the ease, and therefore the prevalence. You must remember that online, you are what you make yourself out to be, without information, no amount of inference can be used to derive your mood or intentions. This poses as a problem, misinterpretation occurs far more often when assumptions are made. misinterpretation can lead to unnecessary conflicts, which are often difficult to resolve with two strongly opposing parties due to the lack of any exonerating evidence. In person, this misinterpretation is often avoided by the much larger amount of information, and thus the lesser amount of assumptions needed to be made. This is all under the difference in the two individuals environments, which renders them unable to justify the other’s actions, and therefore must make assumptions. This is the reason for much of the confusion present in text chats, and other minimally interactive communication tools.
Constant connection & Leeching:
Networking may act as a major supplement to ones social life. This extension can have negative effects on a passive observer. Tied into the interpretational elasticity of networking, networking’s constant availability may act as a catalyst for growing emotions. For example, if one were see someone negatively, the submergence in that persons interactions will likely support (due to the elasticity of intent mixed with a confirmation bias) ones previous opinion of them. Additionally, personal development is important, the constant availability to a social network may interfere with ones focus of their own life and situation. One may consider social networking as an “escape” (much like television, video games, drugs etc.), it allows one to assume the lives and interactions of other people. However, due to its close relevance to ones own life (it’s simply an extension of ones own interactions and the interactions around them) it may seem more appealing and more subtly an escape. This is related to leeching, which is often unacceptable in a real social group. Leeching is when one contributes nothing to a group, but takes advantage of its benefits. Leeches or dedicated passive observers are allowed undisturbed on social networks, and their presence is indeterminable. This is simply a deviation from reality, they may not be harmful.
Networking as a replacement:
The lack of personal interaction can be relieving for some but burdening for most. This is the reason why social networking was embraced so warmly. Social networks replacing ones own personal interaction with others may lead to a dependence on social networking and a hypersensitivity to personal interaction. As one becomes acclimated to the decreased arousal level of non-personal social interaction, personal interaction may become too strenuous, and measures may be taken to avoid it.
Some of the appeal of social networking:
Social networking targets and amplifies social pleasures that one would otherwise be unable to amplify themselves.
Why share with some, when you could share with all?
The reason is unclear to me, possibly the desire for the illusion of an eventful life, but regardless of the reason, the even has been seen and noted. There exists a desire to share experiences with others, this desire is so great that some people artificially construct experiences with the sole interest of sharing them rather than the pleasure of the experience. It is as if they obtain more pleasure from sharing than experiencing, and therefore the maximization of pleasure would come from the maximization of sharing. Before I evaluated this, I would ask myself when I suspected others of committing this act ‘what happens between the pictures?’
Social networking has had a surprising effect on real life interactions, whether they be manifested implicitly (a change in personal social interactive structure) or explicitly (references to social occurrences unique to a social network).
What bothers me the most is the misrepresentation factor (in both potency of emotion and the void of information). And that physiologically, when the misrepresented comment is processed, the lack of information about mood, tone and commentor’s interest allows for interpretational manipulation. And usually the way the comment is interpreted depends on ones own wished intentions.
The satisfaction obtained from person to person communication is immense, which in relative terms is why level of satisfaction from network interactions is low, and thus in order to obtain a closer to or equal level of satisfaction without personal communication, one must invest an exorbitant amount of time into a social networking.
Social Networking is Symbiotic:
The satisfaction one receives from social networking is proportional to the amount of time one invests into it. That is not to say that one is contributing to the network itself, the network is the beneficiary, merely ones participation with peers is proportional to the amount of pleasure one receives; an assertion that is certainly understandable. Likewise and related by cause and effect receptively, the amount of attention one provides their peers with is equal to the amount of attention one receives from their peers, which is proportional to the amount of pleasure one receives from social networking. This is a mutualistic relationship and the source of people’s blind dedication to social networking.