Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism
A good friend of mine recently mentioned an article he had read about such topics as facebook, narcissism, and co-dependency. I love to Google things, so I tried to find the article. Although I did not find the article he mentioned, I did find the one I’ve linked to. This quote interested me:
“Does this technology, with its constant demands to collect (friends and status), and perform (by marketing ourselves), in some ways undermine our ability to attain what it promises—a surer sense of who we are and where we belong? The Delphic oracle’s guidance was know thyself. Today, in the world of online social networks, the oracle’s advice might be show thyself.”
I decided a long time ago that I was going to hide every last one of those “game” updates for Farmville and whatnot. I’m not good about going to external links to read articles or watch videos. I get irritated with posters who constantly use song lyrics, and just assume everyone already knows who sings the song. It’s frustrating to me to have posts that hint at something and never ever clarify what the issue is.
I have Facebook friends from high school, college(s), present life, friends of my kids, long-ago acquaintances and friends, and a few people I have met along the way with whom I share some common interest. I’ve posted about Facebook before, and I may have written this before, but I really wonder how many of the 400-500 friends I have really care at all about what I post, and to be fair, how many of those people do I genuinely care about? I suppose it must be said that I may care about someone even if I do not post on their status. But I think I am missing that connection I want to have with people. Actually, I do experience it with a few people on Facebook, especially the ones I care about but cannot see because of distance.
Facebook seems to be good for keeping in touch with people I don’t get to see because of time and/or distance. But even in the days when I was writing Christmas letters every Christmas, the level of involvement I had with most people really left something to be desired. I long for deep relationships; conversations about things that mean something to me and the other person. Those types of relationships seem to be diminishing these days. Perhaps it’s just my own level of busyness that renders me less involved with others, but I know everyone else is busy, too. After all, haven’t you already heard “I’m so busy!” 20 times this week, either out of your own mouth or from others?
I recently friended some people I remember from high school, but probably haven’t even thought about for over 30 years. What’s with that? I think the people I send friend requests to are people I remember as being kind to a very insecure teenager all those years ago. But I’m not that insecure teen anymore, and I have no idea who those kind people are at this point. I’ve noticed that there are a handful of people whose posts I look forward to and often comment on. I suspect this is a common experience for adults closer to my age. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to “share” the minutiae of my day, and like I said, who cares anyway? Is it really the way I want to live my life that I know more about my sisters, both of whom live ONE MILE away from me, by what they post on FB than what I find out in face-to-face conversations?
Again from the New Atlantic article:
“Today’s online social networks are congeries of mostly weak ties—no one who lists thousands of “friends” on MySpace thinks of those people in the same way as he does his flesh-and-blood acquaintances, for example. It is surely no coincidence, then, that the activities social networking sites promote are precisely the ones weak ties foster, like rumor-mongering, gossip, finding people, and tracking the ever-shifting movements of popular culture and fad. If this is our small world, it is one that gives its greatest attention to small things.”
I’ve never been much for fads, and my grasp of popular music is certainly more tenuous than when I had hours with nothing to do but listen to the radio and hang out. I don’t have the time or desire for the games like Farmville (that’s the only one I know the name of), and I’m not big on “liking” things. I would comment sometimes on things that people “like” but there is no comment link, only the opportunity to choose to like it too.
I see a lot of sarcasm on FB, and some genuinely funny things, but overall, I’m not too sure it’s something I want to continue on in the present form I am using. I’m considering creating a new account, and limiting it to just a few people I really care about knowing about. There are people I care about, but if I don’t have time in real life to see them even 5 minutes in a month, how good of a friendship can that be? I suppose if I am going to share the contents of my head (ht/Annie Lennox), then I would rather do it via blog. These really are Siouxsie’s Musings. Facebook doesn’t seem to be designed for musings. I think it’s definitely good at what it is designed for; I’m just questioning my own level of involvement.
Thanks for reading.