Tuesday, January 19, 2010

social commentary on social networking

social commentary:
social networking sites

i was merely a cherub faced teen when our relationship began; my face still peppered with pimples, my overall social awkwardness was at an all time high. high school, my friends, is when i first entered the social networking domain. it began innocuously enough, i wanted to gain a greater understanding of basic html code, and early myspace provided a pretty good forum to do just that. after a few swift keystrokes i had my very first social networking page via myspace. it wasn't long until i wanted a facebook account. now way back when, you actually had to be enrolled in college or have a registered college email address in order to obtain a facebook account. i waited patiently until i too, could have my very own facebook account! ahh, those where the days- prior to all of us obsessing about privacy settings, dealing with the awkwardness of a coworker or boss requesting your online friendship, being made to live in fear as every action is now visible on the mini-feed (i curse you, facebook, for deleting the option to NOT post every move i make online..dislike!).

we now live in a society that almost shuns privacy, and facebook has taken on a life of its own. no longer is it just a bookmarked page on college kids browsers, its how you're screened for jobs. it has transformed us all from mere internet users into tech savvy stalkers. it's not shocking that with its popularity, facebook has proved to be a nasty little gossip. the once doe-eyed 'new myspace', has become a bossy juggernaut, who loves to keep you informed on everyones lives. suggesting friends was when you lost me, facebook. i understand the whole premise of a 'social networking site' is to network, but i'm not friends with my exes ex for a reason. sure, we have a handful of mutual friends and call the same network our own but we also slept with the same girl and said girl left me for the ex. point being, get out of my face, facebook! furthermore, stop telling people to be my friends! do you even understand how uncomfortable it is to have a box full of strangers?! (thats what she said, ZING...oh that was too good)

if you have a facebook account, you no doubt have gotten a friendship request from someone you would rather not be friends with online. lest it be for personal information you don't want them to have access to, or you have priorly deleted them and thus with them sending you a request for friendship again makes it painfully clear that they are fully aware that you deleted them and you are a douche, or plain and simple- you aren't friends or don't know them. being far too empathetic, this is the portion of facebook that gives me the greatest deal of anxiety. i don't want to be friends with people on facebook that don't actually utilize it to interact with me. if we knew each other years ago, you request my friendship, then i accept out of guilt, i fully expect there to be some sort of interaction afterwards. a wall post, a photo comment, hell- just 'like' something of mine; if you make no effort to interact i assume that you are just stalking me...of which i'm not a fan.

i realize that i'm terribly neurotic and consequently i get a little uppity about minor details that don't really bother anyone else, i.e. having a large number of facebook friends, facebook constantly changing the privacy settings and me not knowing until my coworker says 'that was a fun conversation you and your friend had today via wall posts regarding breast size', and the amount of my information given to third parties.

what normal people stress about is the pandora's box of drama facebook begats. the very nature of a social site is to involve people in their friends lives by providing them with details. facebook states that it's mission is to "give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected", and indeed it does that. but in the process of making all of our worlds more 'open and connected', we have opened much more than expected.

not too long ago, whlist in the throes of drinking at 4am, a good friend of mine wrote 'gay' on any/everything that came across her mini-feed . it wouldn't have been an issue if she had stopped prior to commenting on peoples parents relationship status', but this girl has sticktoitiveness! hundreds of comments later- she slumbers. with the rise of the sun comes the texts, 'the hell is that "gay" shit all about' 'seriously, my MOM? comon'. needless to say her status the next day was simply 'public apology'. as if drunk texts and calls weren't bad enough, drinkers now fear the never benificial, 'drunk facebooking'.

facebook also has the power to alert you to information that you would much rather not be privy to. i have no problem in admitting that i've been dumped before on facebook. actually, stating 'i have no problem' is a bit much- it is actually incredibly embarrassing, but thus is my life- i might as well own it, right? when i was still out as bi i was dating a boy that my friends called 'arms' (he allegedly had a steriod problem. being a latent lesbian at the time i had no problem with the painfully low sex drive he and i both shared. but i digress-). things had been going fine, or so i thought. with a 'refresh' of my page i learned i had gone from 'in a relationship' to 'single' without even being dumped! after a few moments my dorm phone rang, it was arms calling me to his room upstairs...this would have been an appropriate time for me to be a bitch but i chose the more uncomfortable route for him- being direct. 'haha, you really think im going to walk all the way up those stairs just to get dumped- AGAIN? don't be a silly goose.' after a very pregnant pause he said, 'maybe i should have talked to you first'...yah, ya think!?

now don't think i'm being one sided, i really do love facebook. i might yammer on about it shaping our generation in a major way (not entirely sure if i'm thrilled about that, or absolutly terrified), or that the constant addition of new features is challenging to follow but at the end of the day i feel like we need to not place so much stock in facebook's corner when it comes to the disclosure of information. i, for one, believe that we shouldn't take it so seriously! everyone is beyond bored with facebook drama, myspace being the creepy old man of social networking sites, and twitter raping our world (thank god that's not a mountain i've climbed). the way things are going, it's becoming increasingly more clear that social sites are here to stay and we need to advance along with them. so don't just grow with these sites, evolve with them and realize what they are- websites, that's it. so the next time you feel my mass 'liking' of inappropriate status' is stupid, i will remind you that it is JUST a website (and furthermore, your status was probably lame to begin with).


  1. There's a new one out Ashley! It's called 4 Square and I'm currently addicted but it's like stalker central. You "check in" to places and your friends can see where you are. You get badges and the person who has checked into a place the most becomes "the mayor" and when other people become the mayor of my house I get pissed off.

    You should join so I can super stalk you and know where you are every minute of the day.

  2. brilliant!
    i honestly think social networking is slowly killing me. though it's helped me in so many ways (especially with my blog), i feel a growing anxiety associated with it. i don't like it. yet, i can't stop. it's like a drug truthfully.

  3. That is some excellent analysis. I am also so angry about the lack of an option not to display who I am speaking to on facebook.

    That being said, I love speaking to you on facebook.

  4. social networking is changing the world. the iranian uprising this summer only came to be viewed by the world through twitter accounts and cell phone video. as well, fundraising and charity are being redefined by text messaging, as seen by the recent disaster in haiti.


  5. This was such a great read... but has left me wondering "Does Ashley put me in the category of stalkers who never make contact after being added?" Hopefully not! Lol

    I love your writing, and of course, vblogs!