Friday, July 27, 2012

What others think of us

It seems to me that much of the popularity with (a)social networking sites exists because we care so much about what others think.  Some of us are obsessed with "proving ourselves" to the rest of the world.  There is a drive in humanity to be the best, brightest and strongest.  In many large families siblings compete over almost every aspect of life.  Oftentimes the sibling that ends up going to the furthest is looked at with intense jealousy.  I see siblings competing well into adult life, and sometimes up until death.  Now with internet sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's easy to show the family who is number 1.  But I ask: If you are spending time proving yourself on Facebook, are you truly living a glorious life?

Perhaps there is something to be said about backing off and learning to not care about what others think of us.  Is it good for our self esteem to constantly have to prove ourselves to the world?  Of course, to many of us it feels good to show off our greatest accomplishments.  Sometimes I feel the urge to share something I did with my family or friends, and using a site like Facebook would make that a lot easier.  But then I remember the Facebook noise and how my accomplishments would be drowned out in everything else, from Farmville stats to personality tests.  I also realize that my accomplishments mean the most to me, and while I can be proud of them, there is no point on boasting. 

Facebook Detox - Two Friends Talking About Facebook (video)

Why do we care so much about what other people think of us?  Is it hard for people to be happy reveling in their own accomplishments without the need to share them?  Perhaps it is, as we are naturally social creatures.  Our accomplishments are celebrated with our true friends, and feeling good about them, and getting recognition for them helps us to want to accomplish more.  If a child was raised doing well in something, and his parents never recognized that thing, there is a chance the child would stop developing the talent (of course, this is not always the case).  That being said, there is something to be said about sharing that which we accomplish.

Sharing our accomplishments among family and close friends is one thing, but sharing every small movement we make via (a)social networking sites like Facebook is another thing.  Further, it is said that being humble is a virtue.  Perhaps it is one that is somewhat lost in the modern Facebook and text-enabled world.  It is almost expected that if we take a step, we share it.  On Twitter, people will share every small thought they conjure up like it's Einstienian.  On Facebook, if a person makes his way to the restroom, it is seen as an Olympic feat.  Humanity has become addicted to sharing every small breath with the rest of the world!  There is little left of humbleness Is there something wrong with not telling the world about every accomplishment one makes?

In life there is a fine balance to almost everything.  If a person is to tell the world of every small thing they do, chances are the big accomplishments will not be looked on as what they are, big accomplishments.  On the other side of the coin, if a person tells the world only about their biggest accomplishments, oftentimes those accomplishments may seem greater.  Of course, one could argue that the person who does not advertise their every move to the world will be forgotten.  I have noticed with my family that the people who are on Facebook the most are the ones who are talked about the most.  This may be because the members of my family are incredibly vocal in their Facebook careers (I call it that because some of them do not work, but instead spend their working hours on Facebook).  Those who are not on Facebook are, in comparison, rarely spoken of.  However, I value my privacy too much to have my family follow my every move on Facebook.  Of course, there was once a time I was pretty vocal on the site, but I did not care for having an internet leash on, and realized that I was saying too much about my life.

If you decide to make the move off of Facebook, or have already done so, you may find that it is very hard to not feel the urge to post your accomplishments for the world.  That being said, you must purge the urge and realize that even if you do not share each accomplishment of the world, they are nonetheless accomplishments.  I would recommend keeping a journal or goal book in which you keep track of your accomplishments and follow up on them with higher level accomplishments.  You do not need to share every move you make to the world.  You do not need to wear an internet leash to be a valued member of society or a member of your own family.  Your true friends will still be there to celebrate with.  There are many other ways to share your life with others, and Facebook is a very poor excuse of a way in which to be social.  Purge the urge to Tweet about walking to the mailbox, and purge the urge to post on Facebook that you ate Flounder at Skippers. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Facebook "Noise"

Lately, as I talk to people, I find myself wondering if Facebook may be losing its luster.  It seems that many people are getting tired of the non-sense that goes on via Facebook.  Examples include the narcissism, the bragging, the propaganda, the fighting amongst family members.  In fact, I was recently told that one of my newlywed family members got in a fight and let their spouse and the rest of the world know that they wanted a divorce via Facebook.  Sadly, even though I am not on Facebook, I do hear about the drama, and it just proves to me how happy I am to have left.

I am constantly told by others that they want to leave the site and don't see much of a use for it any longer.  I feel that this is only natural.  When Facebook was new to me I found myself curious and excited to see what the people I knew from the past (high school, grade school, etc.) were doing with their lives.  I never stayed in contact with many people from the past and it was interesting to see who went where and who did what.  Further, I grew up in a very rural area in Montana and everyone seemed to know everyone else, so that made it all the more interesting to me. 

However, once I found out what everyone was doing with their lives, and once I talked to some of the people from the past, I realized that my curiosity had waned.  That part of Facebook was no longer new and exciting to me.  Yet, at the same time, I wondered if maybe there would be some people who wondered what I would be doing with my life.  I was proud of my accomplishments and hoped that others would see that I was not the same loser who I was in high school.  I had moved to New York City, traveled the world, went to a well known college, and was now in law school.  This just had to prove that I was not the same pimple faced glasses wearing fool I was back in the day, right? 

Well, I learned fast that everyone else was trying to impress everyone and that while some were surprised to see what I had done, most didn't seem to really care.  Further, many of the people in my high school had achieved at least something and were proud of that something, feeling the need to share it with the rest of the world (there were also a couple of depressed individuals who seemed to garnish pity instead of share their achievements - but maybe their depression was their achievement and perhaps they were proud of it). 

Further, I realized I was seeing my friends and family in a more negative light as time went on.  People shared all their insecurities and all their drama with the rest of the world.  I saw couples fighting and people complaining about everything.  I saw people "unfriending" others and sharing the fact with the rest of the world.    I noticed how people felt validated by sharing what they hated about another person, even when that other person could read the post.  The site felt so negative, yet I still felt a burning desire to share my every moment with the rest of the world.

Then there was the endless barrage of political propaganda.  Everything from the presidential candidates to pro-life and pro-choice battles to Kony 2012 and Occupy Wall Street plastered daily by certain individuals.  Facebook was fast becoming a political sounding board.  It was too much for me.  I did not sign up to use Facebook in order to be bombarded with politics or see friends fighting over who should win the election.  I thought Facebook was supposed to be the kind of place where people talked with each other and communicated with family members and friends who did not live close by.  However, there was much noise on Facebook that erased any possibility of a real relationship.  The phone, e-mail, and person to person contact still reigned as the best way in which to foster a relationship, and Facebook became a failed venture.

Although I have left, many people are content with the failure that is Facebook.  Although many people have lost money on the site, and although many families have brought their feuds to Facebook, it is still the most popular social network in the world.  It is too easy to stay and too hard to give up and for that reason many don't want to leave.  However, there are a growing number of people who claim to be dissatisfied with Facebook.  Time will tell if they make the move and leave the site that has such a stranglehold on their life.  Facebook truly is an emotional roller coaster, and one may have to do a great amount of soul searching in order to realize that leaving is probably in their best interest.  I hope that they will eventually purge the urge to be on the biggest time waste to hit the modern world.  Having talked to those who have left, I have yet to see anyone who has regretted the choice they made to leave. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Politics of Facebook

I heard from a friend that Facebook is full of political discourse over gun control as of late.  That's nice.  One reason I left Facebook was the political arguments between people.  There is one thing I wish people would realize: you are not going to change politics by posting on Facebook.  Everyone has an opinion, yet everyone doesn't care to hear it.  If you want to make a difference, you are going to need to actually get up off your computer and vote.  And not just in the presidential elections.  If you want to be involved in politics, the place to do so is not via Facebook.  If you think that you are connected to the political world because you added Barack Obama to your friends or because you get Romney's Tweets, you had better think again.

Recently I heard a (close relation) family member was making a cross country trip and will be in our area.  I wondered if I would see this individual, and thought I would maybe even get a call from her.  I was made aware of her trip due to a family member who told me that this voyager had posted on Facebook about taking the trip (and used lips to tell nary a soul).  However, as the days passed, I did not get contacted (was this person's lips perhaps broken?).  Now, it does not bother me greatly that I will not get a visit from this person (broken lips do not make for a good visit), but it is annoying that they expect us to be on Facebook.  It goes to show that if you are not on Facebook, you cannot expect to be in the lives of some people.  It's really sad, but not enough to get me to sign back on Facebook.

When I left Facebook I did not make a fuss about leaving.  I did not tell anyone I was going anywhere, I just left.  I figured that there was no point in making a big deal about it.  In fact, I always found that most people who make a big deal about their (a)social network departures often make their way back.  Perhaps this family member thought that I was still on Facebook?  Maybe she wonders why I have not commented on her trip.  That being said, many of my family members do know that I left, as I have been gone for quite a while, and I do get comments from people about not being on the site (the few that I still do hear from). 

One of my comments stated that I will never bring Facebook down.  It's everywhere.  From underwear packages and gum wrappers to billboards advertising sewage treatment plants.  Facebook is a demon that has literally slithered its way into every part of society.  I realize that I can not destroy this beast.  I am just a single person armed with only an arsenal of words and my own studies.  That being said, if I can help just a few people quit the site and improve their lives, I shall be happy.  I think I am already doing that.

Further, another person asked me about using Facebook for business.  I think I will do a whole post on that, but for now I would like to say that I think that is the only legitimate excuse I see for using Facebook.  A business thrives on advertisements and a business would be doing themselves harm by not taking advantage of Facebook.  That being said, a business does not need Facebook to do well.  I honestly wonder how much business Facebook brings in for a sewage treatment plant.  Further, as a business person, you would do well to not have a personal Facebook account in which you become sucked in by the drama and culture of Facebook.  If anything can destroy a business, it's not using time wisely.  So, becoming hooked on the mundane aspects of who went potty where is not going to do you much good in a business sense.  That being said, if you do feel the need to use Facebook for business, do not make and babysit a personal account. 


As for those who were wondering, I added a way in which you can follow this blog via email.  Just enter your email address at the top right hand corner of the page.  Thank you for reading!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nothing like a little demotivation to make you not want to live your life.

There is nothing like a little demotivation to make you stop living and enjoying your life.
  If there is something out there more demotivational than (a)social networking, I just have to know about it!

The truth is, (a)social networks like Facebook and Twitter are the fastest way to make a person stop living their life.  If you use such sites, do you ever find the urge to check them constantly instead of going for a certain goal?  Do you ever see individuals using it as a sounding board, being overly negative about life?  Do you really want to get up, go outside, and look for a job when your friends complain that the economy is so awful that they just cannot find a job?  Well, if you are on (a)social networking sites all day you might not be very lucky in your own job hunt.

I found myself being held back constantly by using these despicable sites.  For example, I constantly heard how hard it was for my friends to meet the same goals that I had and felt like there was no point on me even trying.  However, when I left Facebook, there was nothing to hold me back.  I realized that if I was going to fail at something, it was going to be after I actually tried doing it.  However, if I was glued on Facebook constantly, I would probably not be trying very hard.

I have stated before many times how leaving Facebook helped my grades improve.  While there are some legendary individuals out there who possess mad skills that allow them to excel both in the classroom and on Facebook, the truth is, they are few and far between.  Plus, they may not be just quite as addicted to the site as others.  Even if that is not the case (and I venture to say that most people who use Facebook are addicted), the truth is, some people are better at school and at learning than others are.  That doesn't mean Facebook is right for them.  On the contrary, this kind of (a)social networking may be their only link to the outside world.  In fact, Facebook might replace a family that doesn't speak much or friends that are busy with other things (such as Twitter).

I have had people comment that getting rid of their (a)social networking presence has improved their job performance.  Imagine how many hours are wasted in the workplace by people using Facebook and other sites?  I see it all the time in the classroom.  It's astounding to think about.  Imagine the productivity we could have in our lives if we took all that time we blew on sites like Facebook and Twitter and instead pursued our passions.  Almost every individual wants to achieve something in life.  Some want to be musicians, others writers.  Imagine all that time you spent telling the world about that delicious pot roast you made.  Instead, maybe you could have actually learned that skill you yearn to know.  Maybe you could have written that would-be award winning novel.  The idea is up there in that brain of yours, but that same brain keeps telling you to log on to Facebook to see what your ol' high school adversary did last night. 

Do you find yourself logging on to Facebook and feeling depressed as you log off?
  Do you feel yourself wish you were doing something that your friends say they are doing?  Do you wish your life was more exciting like another person claims that their life is?  If so, there is no reason what so ever that it cannot be.  However, as with any goal, one must remove distractions.  (A)social networking may very well be the biggest distraction in the world today.  These vile places will literally suck every moment out of your day if you let them.  By the time you are ready to push out that first chapter of your up and coming novel you realize that you need to get to bed or get ready for work.  Congratulations, you just spent an entire day (a)socializing!  Of course, you were able to see what your sister-in-law was doing with that inheritance her uncle left her and you did a survey about what songs on your iPod represent you as a person.

There are few things more demotivational than going to bed at night and knowing you wasted a whole day.  As you see yourself getting older you see the dreams of your youth slowly fade away.  You wonder if they were just dreams, or if maybe you could have achieved them.  "If only I would have spent my time in a better way," you lament.  Well, you can spend your time in a more productive way.  You can back off (a)social networking and begin to carve out something truly amazing for yourself.  Your life is a blank canvas that can be changed at any time.  Why continue to spend hour after countless hour spying on friends and making a life that you may not be thrilled public to the world?  You are truly the architect of your own existence.

Ask yourself:  If you were creating your life before you were born, would you put aside hundreds and possibly thousands of hours of your existence to obsessing over (a)social networks?  Life is very short, and you may think that you are doing your family and friends a favor by being on these sites.  The reality is, by you being on there, you make it harder for them to leave.  I realized this when I left the site.  Now I have made it so that the only ways in which I can talk to my friends and family are through fulfilling ways such as via phone, in person, or through e-mail.  These formats allow me to have a real one on one conversation that is intimate and narrowly tailored toward the aspects of life that we share.  What is the point of speaking to my grandmother, my mother, a few people I went to high school with, a college classmate, and my wife at the same time?  Is that truly being social?  Do I really have anything of substance to say to everyone I know at the same time?  Do I really need to share the mundane with the world?  Instead couldn't I be doing something more than just the mundane? 

Sadly, many people realize that (a)social networking is demotivational, but the pull is too great.  In the end we are responsible for our actions.  When we look back at the sum total of our lives we will ask what we did and what we could have done differently.  I am exceedingly happy that I am no longer tethered to (a)social networking.  I am sure you would be too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finding yourself and self-reflection

One thing that I like to recommend to people who want to get away from (a)social networking is to go camping.  I enjoy camping as it allows me to spend time in nature.  That being the case, I am going camping tomorrow.  I will not be using a cell phone, computer or the like.  Not because I believe that the technology is bad, but because I think it's important to sometimes step back and have some quiet time.  It is nice to reflect on life. 

Sites like Facebook make it almost impossible to reflect on life and on who you are.  Instead, these sites have people obsessing over other people.  When you feel down on yourself, going on Facebook and seeing other people bragging does little to help one's self esteem.  Even if there is nothing wrong with your own life in your eyes, Facebook has a way of making a person feel inadequate.  I have realized that I am not inadequate though.  In fact, most of what is posted on Facebook is half-truths or sugar-coated.  Reading that and letting it allow me to feel awful was perhaps the worst thing I could have been doing to myself -- but like a drug, I always wanted to go back. 

One of my readers called me a "neo-Luddite", a person who eschews technology.  However, that is not how I feel.  I realize that many forms of technology, even the mobile phone, which I sometimes hate on, has a place in society.  Further, I admit that this device has helped people out greatly.  At the same time I believe that many people allow themselves to become addicted to new technology and stop living their lives as a result.  It is that which I am against.  Why spend your life hooked up to a device in order to tell the world what you are eating?  While technology is good, I do not believe that the world should be fully transparent. 

Some secrets are good.  Quiet time with self-reflection is good.  Not sharing your entire life with others is a good thing.  In a world full of video cameras and internet (a)social networking sites shouldn't some privacy be sought?  In a world where one's information is easily transferred and sold, should one not crave privacy?  Is it alright to eat something and not share it with the world?  Is it alright to get a promotion and keep it between yourself and your family for a while?  Is there something wrong with a person who does not share every small detail of their life?  I don't think so. 

Showing off to the world.

I believe that privacy is more important than ever today and many people are starting to slowly realize that.  Being on (a)social networking sites may be fun at first, but over time people are seeing that the costs outweigh the benefits.  While it may be nice to know what your brothers and sisters are doing, obsessing over other people's lives takes time away from your own.  Further, it's honestly tacky to show off your life to the world in such fashion.

For example, imagine you lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone else and you wanted to share that you were buying a new three bedroom home on a couple of acres.  You told a few people, but you wanted everyone in town to know.  After all, you were a prominent member in this small community, perhaps a school principal or the local butcher.  Everyone knew you.  You decided that one way in which you could tell everyone about your new home purchase was to advertise it on a billboard right on Main street.  So you did just that.  Even though the economy was bad at the time you did not let it stop you.  You took out that ad and everyone in town saw that you bought a beautiful three bedroom home right outside of town.  You felt good as you saw everyone driving by and looking at it. 

You watched as the local pastor passed by the sign, taking in the image of the big windows facing the mountains in the distance.  You smiled as you saw one of the neighbors leaving the cafe and stopping, looking upwards at the billboard with your proud accomplishment on it.  You felt really good about it, but eventually everyone knew and people stopped looking at the sign.  So, now you would take an advertisement out for something else.  Perhaps the landscaping you were having done.  Perhaps it was the new car you were leasing.  Maybe it was the lamb stew you were cooking for dinner, or the meal you had at a local four star restaurant while on vacation.  Is Facebook really that much different?  The only thing is, with Facebook, everyone is putting up billboards on the most mundane of topics. 

In conclusion, while I feel that technology is an important part of life, there has to be a place for reflection and quietness.  Turning off technology for a while does a person a world of good.  Reflecting on who you are and what it means to be human is important.  Why spend so much time trying to compare yourself to people you barely know when you could get to know yourself better?  Do you know what is it that you want in life?  Do you know your own goals?  If you spend your life enamored by the lives of others on sites like Facebook, chances are you do not.  Reacquaint yourself with you.  Take some time and get away.  There are plenty of opportunities for quietness all around you.  If you can not go camping, go to a local park and spend some time amongst the trees.  Do not take your cell phone.  Do not think about Facebook, Twitter, or Friendster.  Resist the urge to post about your time in nature.  Keep that time as your own sacred time.  It's even better if you can find a place that is yours, in which you can always reflect.  Perhaps you have a place out back which could be free of the noise of Facebook.  Maybe a room in your home?  There has to be somewhere you know of.  Find that place and find yourself.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

(a)Social networking sites you may have never heard of...

Most everyone has heard of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, Friendster, and similar (a)social networking sites. However, there's a bounty of lesser heard of (a)social networking sites lurking in the dark corners of the internet. More are appearing every single day.  Brace yourself for some of the strangest (a)social networking sites on the internet.

Facebook 2012
(A.K.A. Face2012)

Many people are convinced that the world is going to end in 2012.  They claim that there is no way that can be changed.  Prophecy has foretold it, and you can not argue with prophecy.  Others claim that even if the 2012 prophecies are not correct, the world is still on the verge of destruction, even if it is a result of the Earth's magnetic poles switching or a meteor shower slamming into the ocean and causing a mega-tsunami™.  Global economies are on the verge of collapsing and with it cities will be entrenched in endless riots.  One (a)social networking site is challenging its members to band together and start communes (just don't drink the kool-aid). 

There are ways to meet the challenges that are ahead.  For example, you can move 300 kilometers from any population center of 500 or more people.  Also, don't live near any large bodies of water, including rivers, lakes, and of course the ocean.  Further, mountains may not be safe due to tectonic shifts.  Should the equator move into Canada, you may want to not be too far south of the current equator.  Further, be sure to not be somewhere where the meteors are going to fall.  If you are confused, sign up to the (a)social network, where your profile will be judged before you are allowed membership.  If you are deemed to survive, you shall be a part of a very small (a)social network in which you can spend the rest of your life planning your survival in a dying world.


If you are lucky enough to be a member of the jet set, you may be invited to aSmallWorld.  It's open by invitation only to the most savvy individuals on the planet.  And if you are not worthy, you won't be invited to this asocial (a)social network.  Believe me, you are not missing out.

aSmallWorld is known sometimes as Snobster or the Friendster of the jet set according to  Chances are you may have never heard of it because like so many of us, you are not worthy of it.  That's alright though, your self-esteem should not hinge on being invited to another (a)social network.  Facebook is bad enough, why try to be on more than one?


This is one of the most shallow sounding (a)social networking sites I have come across.  According to Wikipedia: is an (a)social networking service which (sounds like the noise someone makes when throwing up) [and] allows college students to collect positive comments about themselves, their attire, their looks, etc., from others by way of Patches. Collecting a Patch updates all the known circles of a user and exponentially increases popularity among ones peers. 
The site was founded by entrepreneur Samson Manickaraj. While describing the concept, Samson Manickaraj said "If someone thinks you look well-dressed, hot or cute, why let that thought go waste? Blauk allows users to share these thoughts and when you collect such positive feedback about yourself from the society around you, it adds a positive energy to your life. Someone you want to date might decide to go out with you based on the number of 'trendy' or 'dream date' patches you have collected, and it makes a big difference to your life. Patches are the reason we dress well when we step out of home, because it feels nice when others find us appealing."

Yes, the reason we look good when we step out of the house is so we can feel good on an (a)social networking website.  In fact, having someone give us a patch on an (a)social networking site should be the whole reason we feel good about ourselves.  No wonder people are so confused about their self-esteem.  Basing yourself and how you look on an (a)social network is just silly.  Of course, many people will be lured to this site in hopes that they are cute enough or good enough to get enough patches to make them a viable human being. 

VampireFreaks is an online community for the Gothic–industrial subcultures.  According to Wikipedia:

VampireFreaks hosts a wide number of events and Gothic parties. Information of these events can be found on its website. It also has a clothing store, named after the site, located in New York City. It helps uphold and connect people of Gothic–industrial subcultures. It's very popular messageboard, though largely populated by all kinds of people and not just goths, is a major component of the site's success. Its main topic of focus aside from socializing is its music, and it hosts its very own digital music store. Jet (the founder) regularly updates the site with information concerning not only bands, but various Gothic events. Many people have found love on the site, and this has been focused on during Valentine's Day.  Couples that met through the site submitted stories of how they met their matches. "Premium Memberships" are also offered (for a fee), these feature the ability to upload more pictures, see who views the user's profile, "powerbomb" the "unwanted" VF members. The official Vampirefreaks clothing store located in New York City has closed.
So, if you are hankering to live the life of a vamp, and you want to pay for the privilege, head on over to Vampire Freaks today!   Sadly, the clothing store in New York is closed, however, you should be able to find similar gear at your local Hot Topic. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Today in the United States we remember when we signed the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.  We basically said, "we can do much more as a people if we are truly independent.  We don't need your taxes, and we don't need you lording over us any longer!"  While I know a lot of people who bemoan that there is a lot going wrong in the United States, there are a huge amount of people who I know who are very proud on a day like today.  You may see them wearing a flag for a shirt, or lighting a field on fire while trying to ignite some fireworks.  Others will be picnicking with family, friends, and loved ones.  Others will gather by the river, waiting for a show to be put on by their community.  Others still will spend this Independence day on Facebook, Twitter, and Facebook2012.  To my readers who celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, how will you spend this day?  Will you be posting images of fireworks all over your wall, or will you be out with the ones you love making it a day worth living?

I can just imagine what my Facebook wall would look like today if I still had it.  I can imagine the stuff my family is putting up on there.  I imagine some of it isn't pretty.  And some of my friends, probably still fighting over whose body parts are the nicest.  I wonder if when the fireworks light the sky tonight if they will be glued to their mobile phones or if they will be actually enjoying the show.  I suppose it doesn't matter, but it is something to think about on this Independence Day.  No matter where you are from, today is a great day to celebrate your Independence from Facebook.  Go and delete that thing and tell your family that you're done.  Give your grandparents a call and tell them that instead of poking them, you'll come and visit sometime.  Tell your ex-boyfriend that you don't need to stalk him any longer, because you've moved on from all that.  Tell your high school friends that if they want to continue to be friends with you in the adult world, your door is always open.  When you change jobs or look for a job in the future you won't have to worry about being disqualified because of your profile.  When you look back at your life at the end you can be proud of the fact that you stopped wasting your time on (a)social networks.  And that pride can start to grow right now.

Celebrate your independence from the one site on the internet that most of the world is becoming so dependent on.  Sign your declaration of independence from Facebook and other (a)social networking today.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Social Networking and Narcissism.

According to
Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait. Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, "narcissism" usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person or group's relationships with self and others. In everyday speech, "narcissism" often means egoism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.
While not every person on Facebook is a narcissist per se, (a)social networking as a whole is a breeding ground that fosters narcissism and it is the kind of environment where narcissism thrives. 

Some of the common traits and signs of narcissism are:
  • An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
  • Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
  • A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)
  • Difficulty with empathy
  • Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries)
  • Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults (see criticism and narcissists, narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury)
  • Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
  • Haughty body language
  • Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them (narcissistic supply)
  • Detesting those who do not admire them (narcissistic abuse)
  • Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
  • Pretending to be more important than they really are
  • Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
  • Claiming to be an "expert" at many things
  • Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
  • Denial of remorse and gratitude
[Hotchkiss, Sandy & Masterson, James F. Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2003)]
Reading through this list it is easy to see many of these traits on (a)social networking sites.  One thing about (a)social networking, unlike the 'real world', is that something that someone says does not have immediate repercussions.  I am sure that most people have said something online that they later came to regret.  At first we tend to feel invincible.  We can say anything we want and, at a distance, we can get away with it.  

Looking at the list above, it is obvious that many of the traits of narcissism are everywhere on sites such as Facebook.  One example is an obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges.  Sites like Facebook make it easy to only focus on yourself through expression.  In fact, at times it may feel impossible to not focus on yourself.  People tend to focus on themselves in every area of life, but unlike a real friendship, an (a)social networking friendship centers around the self.  The user is encouraged to share everything about their own life to the world or risk being buried in other people's posts.  Many of these posts seem mundane.  As a result, a person is compelled to share what they ate for breakfast, how much they walked on a given day, where they parked their car, what they are doing next week, post pictures of the dinner they ordered at Denny's, etc. 

Sustaining satisfying relationships is also a huge problem with (a)social networking.  This is most apparent if you leave the site.  Many of the relationships you thought you had will vanish.  This is true, as I have found, even with certain family members.  You may think that you have a great relationship with someone, but if you deactivate your account, you may never hear from them again. Even if you make a conscious and calculated effort to become friends with them, they may figure that you should go back to Facebook if you want to be their friend, and if you don't, then a real friendship cannot be had.  This type of thinking makes it almost impossible to sustain a satisfying relationship with someone.  A real relationship can not be exclusively had via (a)social networking, yet many individuals believe that one must be a friend on Facebook if they are to be friends.  The idea of what a real friendship is lost to many who actually live on sites like Facebook.  If you are not on Facebook, you do not exist in their world. 

Another example from the list above is narcissistic supply, or flattery towards people who admire and affirm them.  On Facebook, many people have 'circles of friends', with certain people being in the inner circle.  Everyone has friends who they are closer with than others.  However, usually that information is not put on display.  Imagine if I was to say to some of my friends every time I saw them, "you are a good friend, but we are not as close as I am with Crystal and John."  On Facebook, that information is often put on display for the entire world.  On Facebook, if one posts comments on another person's wall, chances are, they will get a comment back on their wall.  Some people feel the need to have comments posted on their wall, and will go on a fishing expedition.  Commenting on enough friends may get you a few bites, and in the end you might even reel in a nice comment on your own wall about how wonderful of a person you are.  This feeling is addictive, and you may find yourself constantly searching for this feeling.

Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating ones achievements is a huge mark of narcissism that is seen on Facebook.  In fact, such bragging is often anything but subtle.  The wall feature makes it easy to brag about every little part of one's life, no matter how ordinary.  Examples include where someone ate, what kind of purse someone bought, where someone went on a date to, who it was with, how much they love their new job, how wonderful their grades were, etc.  As a student, I have seen classmates post their grades on their Facebook wall many times.  I always found this to be somewhat tacky, as I tend to not share my own grades with others, no matter how good I did.  I have had friends who would bombard the world with pictures of their eBay clothes purchases, pictures of college loan money after the checks were cashed, and pictures of body parts that they had been endowed with.  In real life many people would not go this far.  If they did, many would wonder if there was something mentally wrong with these individuals.  However, such behavior on (a)social networking sites is not only the norm, it's expected.

Just as people brag incessantly on Facebook, many will exaggerate their achievements.  Educational attainment is one that I see very often.  Many people will stop at nothing to make you think that they are smarter than they really are.  Yet, how smart are you if you have to brag on an (a)social networking site?  It is easy to lie or at least stretch the truth.  Who is going to catch you?  Chances are, many of the people on your Facebook friends list are people who you do not live anywhere near.  Classmates from high school have not seen you since graduation day.  Others you may barely even know.  Although you may have taken a summer class at Berkeley Extension, you might as well just state that you attended U.C. Berkeley.  Who is going to know, and technically it's true, and the result: people will perceive you as smarter for it.  You might even put that you graduated from U.C. Berkeley.  That's even more impressive.  Although not everyone on (a)social networking lies, when it is easy to stretch the truth, many people will when it becomes part of the game.

Facebook and (a)social networking also fosters an inability to view the world from the perspective of other people.  One would think that being surrounded by many people on your friends list would make it easy to see the world through the eyes of others.  However, this is not the case.  Paradoxically, users become so self-absorbed with their own lives that they barely understand others.  Instead of fostering real friendships, they find themselves barricaded in their homes or behind their cell phones living life vicariously.  When one steps outside, chances are the urge to grab the phone and check one's profile or Twitter feed is so intense that it cannot be ignored.  This kind of immediate gratification and satisfaction of primal urges does nothing to allow a person to understand others.  Instead, one finds themselves ignoring family, friends, and other people while advertising what an amazing person they are or trying to keep up with a sibling or "friend".  If that is not narcissism, I don't know what is. 

In conclusion, the facts point out that Facebook is the kind of dank breeding ground that attracts and fosters narcissism in many shapes and forms.  I have only touched the surface in this post.  If you still doubt that Facebook is a narcissists dreamworld, then I implore you to take another look at the site, question what you see, and apply it to the list above.  Chances are you will see that many of these traits are embraced by many of the users.  This does not make them bad people.  To the contrary, they are using the site as intended.  Feeling good about yourself is addictive, and many people feel good about themselves when they express their achievements to the world.  The problem is, (a)social networking sucks the user in, makes them dependent on these 'good feelings' and, in the end, cripples real friendships.  Would any 'real world' friendship thrive if the relationship was one sided, if each individual only talked about themselves?  Probably not.  However, such relationships easily exist on Facebook, as the more people you have on your friends list makes it so more people can see what an amazing life you are living behind that screen.