I once had this friend; her name was Miya. I guess technically we’re still friends, but we don’t ever talk anymore. Anyway, back during one summertime — this was probably 2006 or so — her and I developed a friendship through one of our mutual friends, and we talked almost every night mostly about the random happenings in the world, how we felt about certain things. Stuff like that.
Only, when we talked, it was on the computer, via AIM.
See, I didn’t create a Myspace until 2007, or a Facebook until 2008; back then, AOL Instant Messenger was as technologically advanced as I got. It’s been a long time since 2006, and I can’t honestly recall any conversation Miya and I ever had back in those days, but one thing she told me stuck out, and I’m not quite sure why exactly I still remember it.
She said [paraphrased, of course]: That’s the problem with communicating when two people aren’t face-to-face. It can be so dehumanizing.
Again, I don’t know why that still sticks out in my memory, but there aren’t many statements that can be said that are more true, even though I was only 16 when I read it and I’m going on 24.
Social media has become excessively specialized over the last 5 years. First there was Myspace, then Facebook — which was basically just a more accessible Myspace — then, since our attention spans are so short, Twitter reduced everyone to 140 characters, and now Instagram has made it such that there’s no real point to post pictures on Facebook.
It’s always one thing after the other, but the story pretty much stays the same.
The naïve concept to Facebook is that it’s a way to connect, or, to stay connected to people. Really, though, it’s just a device to attract attention to one’s self. Generally, people realize early on that no one really gives a shit about their life, as in the mundane things individuals do on an everyday basis. People aren’t compelled to tell you they just went to the store to grab some milk. No. People want likes; they instead present themselves in the way they want to be seen, whether it’s to be funny, to be a chronic complainer so others will feel sorry for them, or to casually brag about the shit they own. Those attract likes, and people like likes, because people naturally want to feel like what they say matters. They want to feel like people care.
Truly, there was once an innocent stage of social networking. It was essentially public text messaging. The problem, however, was that people became too aware of that fact. When it was realized that everyone could see everything, Myspace and Facebook turned into forums for people to broadcast their feelings. It wasn’t enough to hang out with friends and have a few beers; it had to be known that people were hanging out and drinking beer. It wasn’t enough to mope around and be sad; friends had to know the sadness. I could go on and on.
A common motif in literature and film and every other artistic media is perception vs. reality. There is a truth out there, somewhere, and there are things people want you to believe are the truth. Often times the perception of the truth is more important than the actual truth itself.
This idea isn’t only exclusive to normal people like me and you, though. It’s everywhere. Professional athletes are whatever the media tells you they are, which is why guys like Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds are always portrayed as villains — because they don’t have healthy relationships with the media. There are also guys, like Cincinnati Reds 2nd baseman, Brandon Phillips, who are shown to be class acts, but in reality, they really aren’t. He’s an asshole.
But since he takes pictures with fans on Twitter, and because he gives friendly interviews, television pundits give him a free pass on pretty much anything. Back at the end of August, when a beat reporter made a snarky comment about his on base percentage, Phillips called him a “fat motherfucker” and very little was even mentioned of it. Only because there’s video am I aware of it.
Rany and Joe, who do The Baseball Show podcast had this to say on it.
I don’t write this to sound holier than thou or anything; it’s true that I had a Myspace, and that I still have ongoing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. I only write about it because I’m just tired of the way it is. There’s no doubt I’m a slave to technology, like this WordPress, just as much as anyone else out there.
I’m just aware of what it’s really about, and I don’t like it.