Monday, July 6, 2015

How Facebook changed it all

Often,  I think about how silly I was in high school (and beyond that, let's be real)...and before the popularity in social media skyrocketed, one could just have memories and some pictures (developed at your local pharmacy or grocery store) to look back and laugh at from those periods of growth. 

And the memories, over time, changed and became grey (i.e. the memories became a memory of a memory and thus grew more convoluted and softened)... so the pain or anguish you'd feel over a mistake or a low period would dissipate bc the severity of the memory became lessened. Your mind would kind of protect itself and soothe the shame/regret associated with said era. Not so bad, eh?

Social media allows you to have an actual, concrete record of all achievements (which is pretty damn cool) AND mistakes (ah, the other end of the coin). One is able to date as far back as a decade (that's how long I've been on Facebook and other social media for) and literally see a snapshot of your life's peaks and lows over the last 10 years. It's all documented in messages, comments and photos. That is kind of an insane concept. And it never occurred to me in full until now. 

Facebook, for me and many others, is just a big collection of EVERYTHING...memories, life events (good and bad)...and that is INSANE! I, in looking back, even noticed a small number of deleted friends over the course of my breakdown/recovery when computer browsing was one of the five or six things I felt comfortable doing... and it took me 3-5 years to notice that I/the other person decided to end whatever relationship we had (more often casual acquaintances or former supervisees that conveniently reappear when looking for a reference). This ending of sorts usually comes with no real reason in 99% of the instances. In all instances except for serious relationships that mattered, I am unable to recall whose choice it was to end things. For many reasons, I'm not one of those cool girls that's BFFs with my ex-husband post-divo, but kudos to all of you that were able to remain that amicable. 

I only ever intended to use social media to replace AOL Instant Messenger as everyone I knew that lived far from me made the shift and left AIM-remember all those font choices and passive-aggressive away messages with emojis? it was my goal, ultimately, to remain in contact with geographically-distant pals on a higher level with chat sessions, pictures and things AIM didn't offer. Plus, we often made friendships with one another's friends from other circles which was fun (the more, the better back in one's 20s)...and now it's all become this major THING. This app on our phones that we use while waiting for the doctor to call us in for our flu shot or while we're hanging out in a long line at the grocery store. My generation, and perhaps the one before it, is the first to see SUCH a major shift in the way folks socially interact, and we're the first to have a literal online catalog of the past 10 years' of our life events, for better or worse. 

I imagine the goal of this whole social networking shebang was for us as a society to be able to connect more easily (and I am sure Zuck and good old "Tom" from MySpace (wonder what he's up to?) didn't plan on this stuff not being a moneymaker. But in discussing with friends in real time or real-life settings, not via comment threads or use of emoji-only convos, I've come to realize that I am not the only one that, outside of feeling depressed due to a diagnosed illness, feels terribly lonely. While I am very thankful that there's a platform out there that has kept me closer to old friends than I probably would have been without it, it also makes folks complacent. 

My mind is kind of blown at that...perhaps I am being overly philosophical here? Where was this skill in college during my critical thinking class? haha

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