Communication 440 | Where Tech Can Talk!

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  • Facebook – A Comparative Analysis

    Facebook has been a social media platform since February of 2004. And in that time, we have witnessed a society go from knowing only your neighbors to now knowing your neighbors, their friends, their friends friends, and so on and so forth. The fact that we are able to communicate and stay in touch with our friends over long distances was a huge breakthrough for human interaction. Facebook was just the start of a much bigger world in the realm of social media. And now, in the present day, we are engulfed in a social media heavy society. Everyone and their dog posts about all aspects of their lives 24/7 on apps like Facebook, Instagram, and even one of the newests apps, BeReal. Have these social media platforms taken more priority in our lives than our own well-being? In the articles, “Is Facebook making us lonely?” by Stephen Marche and, “Facebook isn’t making us lonely” by Eric Klinenburg, this question is brought to light about our interactions with social media, specifically Facebook.

    In my little time on this earth, I have had the opportunity to grow up at the same time these social media platforms skyrocketed in popularity. I think I was around the age of 13 when I created my first Facebook account. Little did I know that creating that simple account would start me on the path on using social media in my everyday life. This happened for a lot of kids my age because we all grew up with it. And now, less than 10 years later, I have begun to even resent social media like Facebook. The constant need to post about my life and upload an image online feels like more of a chore to me now more than ever before. Don’t get me wrong, when I was only a few years younger, I had the drive and ambition to post about everything. I wanted people to see who I was with, the places we went, and the things we did. But as I get older and the responsibilities pile up, being on social media keeps falling lower and lower on my list of priorities.The question I asked myself is, “Why is that?” Why do I not care about posting about my life even though people my age are still able to do so to this day? The answer, at least to me personally, was pretty simple: Why post if no one really cares? Sure, getting likes, shares, and/or comments on things we post feels good, but when we like someone else’s photo, is there really much thought or care when we double-tap a photo and scroll onto the next? This became my thought process that I still believe to this day. The realization that people just “like” and scroll mindlessly drove me to this conclusion. So while I read the article, “Is Facebook making us lonely?” by Stephen Marche, I couldn’t help agreeing with most arguments presented by Stephen.  

    In Stephen’s article, he goes on to deliberate on how Facebook and other social media apps are pushing us into a lonelier society. I found a very interesting detail early on in the article that stated back in 2010, over 800 miles of fiber optic cable were laid down between the Chicago and New York Stock Exchange. All this work, costing roughly around $300 million dollars, was all done for 3 less milliseconds on the trading network. The fact that we would spend over $300 million for such a miniscule amount of time leaves me speechless. Stephan also said, “ We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier. In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society. We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information”(Marche, 2012). I feel this to be even more true today. The amount of information we have access to on a daily basis can be easily overwhelming. Especially when we get so used to this technology that it causes anxiety and stress when we don’t get a simple text back from someone. The article discusses that exact example with none other than Mark Zuckerberg himself. Stephen brings up the movie, “The Social Network” which is about Mark and Facebook. But the exact scene that is brought up is the final scene where Mark sends his ex-girlfriend a friend request, and then waits. Clicks again, and waits, and again, and again until the scene fades to black. “We have all been in that scene: transfixed by the glare of a screen, hungering for response”(Marche, 2012). This loneliness portrayed is exactly how a lot of people have to deal with different types of interactions on social media. In the counter-article, “Facebook isn’t making us lonely” by Eric Klinenburg, he brings up the fact that when telephones first arrived, people didn’t stop going to knock on peoples doors. They simply called before arriving and then still knocked. While this is a fair statement, I don’t believe comparing these technologies is a good assessment in regards to loneliness. This is because a phone has the task of connecting two individuals for a conversation, but social media is a global platform where everyone is connected and everyone can talk to each other. Having that much accessibility is easily overwhelming and has pushed people, even myself, to stay away from and maybe even resent social media.

    Overall, I think both of these articles aren’t able to reflect present day social media and its effect on people’s mental health. Seeing that these articles were written in 2012, over 10+ years ago, a lot can change in that short time. Especially with the increased acceleration of technology in this time, I would say Eric’s article is proven even more wrong in today’s light whereas Stephen’s points are even more of a concern. Social media continues to evolve and change, there’s no stopping that. But will it continue to push people into isolation like Stephen believes? Or is Eric correct in saying that we really aren’t that lonely? The future can only tell, but one thing I know will stay certain: I’ll definitely still be isolating myself for streaming service content like Star Wars or Marvel. That content is worth the loneliness.