Facebook turns ten
It is truth universally acknowledged that models and actresses are most beautiful just as they are being discovered – they are getting attention, they know they have something special but they don’t quite know the power of it, and it excites them. The same can be said for social media channels – the forums when first discovered were your and your friends little secret – wall posts consisted of flirtatious interchanges and remarks about colleagues (too old and too boring to be part of the scene) and photos of debauchery. It was an exclusive club, which gave you magic powers – you created an online profile which never had a bad day, you untagged anything you didn’t like and helped each other with wall posts to become the best prettiest, most popular version of yourself you could be. And it worked!
When I first started working full time and first started Facebooking the social happiness that it facilitated was immense – scoring an average of 5 posts from friends a day, it helped to compensate for the daily university exchanges whilst adapting to desklife in an office of strangers. Even problems like people not getting the invite/forgetting people off the list/the logistics of getting directions and instructions in one place became a thing of the past, as did the #firstworldproblems like “I want to see my friends photos of that amazing night out last week” all sorted with a click and an upload. It all fell into just one simple place….and it soon became known as ‘digital crack’ the first of its kind, it left it’s clunky website ancestors like friendsreunited and bebo backstage. Twitter too, emerged to fill a different social platform void, it provided constant updates from friends, strangers, people you admired people you hated….there was the freedom to ‘follow’ without the heartbreaking non response risk that Facebook held. It also gave wordsmiths the exciting challenge of being witty and informative in the space of 120 characters….which included hash/tags. It screamed freedom to the ADHD in us all – the point was there, it was instant and you could be part of something huge with just your brain and 120 characters. Social media was independence.
Now, ten years on, where phrases like “facebook it”, “post” (not meaning postal) “trend” (not trendy) and “I think you should make that photo your prof” have become as ubiquitous as the 757 million users that login daily and have fallen susceptible to the SM drug; as with anything that makes or has made you feel good, the pendulum inevitably swings the other way. From the millions earned in advertising and the university degrees on it, to the rehab centres with people fighting the addiction and news stores like this one from the BBC, about how Facebook can make you sad…..http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23709009 “social media fatigue” is now a common term. We’re getting online burnout – we’re like Cara Delivigne not able to go down the catwalk because of stress induced scoliosis. The content isn’t new, your friends are all already on it and there’s the risk that you could legally get in hot water for the things that you post online. Despite this, for every person leaving Facebook there are thousands and thousands more joining and ignoring the minor backlash. I don’t think Facebook and Twitter are going anywhere.
With social media we are emotionally plugged in. People often say “it’s better to talk to someone face to face” or “get off the computer/phone and see your friends in real life”. But when it comes to communication and the imparting of information is there really a difference? Are we not just getting better at it? When you see online your friend has had a baby, the emotional response is similar to where you are told in person – the facts are the same and that’s what we are addicted to, the information, the access and the interaction. People often say you get lost in a book, and somehow a book is seen as traditional and worthy, because it is older. But when it comes to black and white, we’re as lost online with our friend’s stories and of those whom we choose to follow, as we are in chapter three of a novel…. but this is a novel you can be part of and directly affect the ending of……. and lost is the word.
The world changed when Facebook and Twitter came of age and no one really knows where this information exchange will lead, it’s used from everyone from grannies to terrorists and is gaining strength. Like every ten year old, Facebook is testing its boundaries and the lines are starting to be drawn – the news this week was littered with articles about the Facebook iPhone messenger app.http://thebull.cbslocal.com/2014/08/07/facebook-crosses-the-line-with-new-facebook-messenger-app/#.U-PqpVq8zLE.facebook These are some of the T&C’s which you have to accept to download, and downloading we are…..
· Change the state of network connectivity
· Call phone numbers and send SMS messages!
· Record audio, and take pictures and videos, at any time
· Read your phone’s call log, including info about incoming and outgoing calls
· Read your contact data, including who you call and email and how often
· Read personal profile information stored on your device
· Get a list of accounts known by the phone, or other apps you use
Clearly humans want to communicate in this way despite the risk, and I’ve got a feeling we’re still at the beginning of where it will go.