November 1, 12
For the Good of All Mankind
It’s all around us, on our televisions, on our computers, in the palm of our hands, and constantly nipping at our brains. We refer to it when we wake up, when we are bored, when we are waiting, and before we go to bed. We continuously upload pictures, update our statuses, compose a tweet, scale our timelines and feeds, and snoop into the lives of our so-called “friends”. Social Media has engulfed our society to a point where it’s almost impossible to envision a world before the Internet. Due to this, not only has the way we go about our daily tasks changed, but also the way we as a people function towards one another. Some experts think that the way social media influences society can be beneficial. Why wouldn’t we want something that makes our lives that much easier? While on the other hand some argue that the web is redefining the way people interact and altogether live. Through further analysis of articles, authors, scholars, and viewpoints, I will explain social media’s negative affects on the world as we now it. The most popular social media network in the world is Facebook, currently racking up about 1 billion users. Facebook allows us to do a plethora of things: we can connect with millions of people all around the world by letting them more or less into a window of our lives. We can see their photos, what they are interested in, who they may be in a relationship with, and even talk to them if we so choose. On top of all that we can let them know how we feel about any of these things by using a little gadget referred to as the “like” button. This feature allows you to like someone’s photos, comments, statuses and activities. The problem that arises with the like button is it lets you say so much by ultimately saying nothing at all. You choose to simply “like” something instead of expressing your opinion about it, therefor taking all sincerity away from the action altogether. Those opposing Facebook and other similar social medias believe that the effects they have on a person substantially changes the way he or she thinks, behaves, and even loves. Jonathan Franzen argues in Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts the very belief that Facebook’s tendency to “like” has generated within people a personality lacking integrity and ultimately a center. “If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are” (Franzen 2) The need to be liked on Facebook has become so great that it forces us to go to a length that many times is bordering narcissism. On top of this to be likable can make us exude a person that isn’t who we really are in order to get that social satisfaction. This in turn `creates a deeper conflict within ourselves. It makes us question who we are, and why we can’t be liked for that person in the first place. Throughout the article Franzen examines this conflict. He states that this struggle creates too much pain and altogether is easier for us to avoid completely. In turn we lose what it is to really love something or someone, and even ourselves. Loving is something so genuine, and in the deepest terms unique to mankind. If only that was the sole problem with Facebook. As Zadie Smith, author of Generation Why? points out, Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook is different from most people. He is unique in the way that he is a complete cybernetic totalist, or in other words, a person who is more intrigued with programming than what the program actually does. He’s a technological nerd who happens to be lacking a whole lot of social skills. So in retrospect, for someone who doesn’t fit so well into the norm of everyday life and human interaction, Facebook is in some ways a lifesaver. Smith informs us that when Zuckerberg speaks about Facebook he emphasizes how users are...