Does Social Networking Change People?

Sometimes I think Facebook is ok – it lets people keep in touch, and its nice knowing what people are up to.

Other times I think its a load of bullshit.

One of the main things I’ve noticed is that it catalyses people’s search for attention. The little dopamine flourishes that one receives on getting a comment or some feedback becomes addictive, leading to more outlandish or attention seeking statuses (e.g. “OMG can’t believe what just happened!”). I know people who actually think in terms of Facebook now, so if they see something out and about, the first thought is to report to Facebook about it, or upload a photo there and then.

Another downside is that statuses and what people say they’re up to doesn’t really reflect who they are or whats really happening in their lives. Its the most superficial surface-skim of a persons life. Yet, we get fooled into thinking “oh, they’re ok” and then maybe not feel as encouraged to actually talk to them or find out how they really are, as we would have been pre-Facebook.

When I meet someone who is interesting but not on Facebook, they normally have a refreshing streak of independence and individuality.

More and more I hear of people threatening to delete their Facebook accounts, but the problem is bigger than that. The annoyance isn’t your own relationship to Facebook – its the fact that everyone else is becoming superficial and self-centred because of it too!

One thought on “Does Social Networking Change People?”

  1. I read an article this week linking number of Facebook friends and frequency of profile updates to ‘Socially Disruptive Narcissism’. It stopped short of saying that FB creates narcissists, more that it provides an outlet for them.

    I have a couple of FB friends who think it important that I am aware (along with 400+ others) of every passing thought or feeling – how tired they are, that they’re a bit unwell, that they’ve got to go to work or that they’ve had breakfast (pictures included) and one who tells me when she’s going to bed. It’s almost as though if there isn’t a record of it, it hasn’t happened.

    Narcissism maybe, but is it ‘socially disruptive’?

    I think that there’s a bit of a mixed desire – people want community/to belong/to be known, but perhaps don’t want the messiness that comes with truly connecting to someone else. We can drop a comment to show we’ve noticed, or to reassure ourselves that we are popular and loved – words are easy – but this can keep us distant from the day to day reality of actually being involved in a person’s life. Hmm, actually, maybe that does disrupt society – there’s a lot more communication happening, but people are more disconnected from each other than ever before.

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