The Demise of Society.

With technology and online activities quickly overtaking most teenagers’ and adults’ lives, I can’t help but feel light years behind. Comically enough, I work in a technology-related position and still feel as though I’m missing the boat on more days than not. From the lowly beginnings of social media on MySpace, to the lightening-fast text-restricted ongoings of Twitter, to the onslaught of ever-changing iPad/Pod/Phone/Tablet/Prism Recorders… social media and online “living” are becoming the only social reality we have.

Make new friends you'll never meet, find a soulmate that lies through their social identity's teeth, or read news sources that all report different information! All at the touch of your fingers.

Make new friends you’ll never meet, find a soul mate that lies through their social identity’s teeth, or Google the most ridiculous inquiries ever to be asked! This magical wonderland and more… all at the tips of your fingers.

With tear-jerking stories of adopted children finding their birth parents and heart-wrenching tales of soldiers seeing their children’s faces after a year of deployment, it’s easy enough to overlook the negative consequences of having the entire world at the tip of our fingers.

But, they are there. And these negative consequences are dramatically affecting people’s happiness, hope, and gratitude.

I feel you, kid. Too many online options can blow your mind.

I feel you, kid. Too many online options can blow your mind.

People are committing adultery like wildfire. From the extremes of online flirting through Facebook messaging to Adult Friend Finder, temptations for people to stray from their marriages and relationships are overwhelming. I can’t count how many inappropriate opposite-sex comments I’ve witnessed on social media pages of people in committed relationships.

A book for those trendy new age social media cheaters.

A book for those trendy new age social media cheaters.

Romantic relationships aren’t the only ones negatively affected by social media. Family and friendships begin to wither through online living as well. What started as a college networking website, Facebook now houses thousands, possibly millions, of parents and extended family members online. While in some cases this is positive through picture and status sharing with a far away loved one, it also lowers familial boundaries.

Gone are the days of “catching up” on the weekend or at the next family gathering. Suddenly you know what every family member ate for lunch, what errands are stressing them out, and how they feel about Zynga’s latest game. Tweets fly back and forth about bread and milk from the store. LinkedIn messages are typed with no thoughts about careers or professional networking. You suddenly aren’t able to vent 140-characters without several family members commenting, liking, poking, retweeting, or linking. Just typing the list is enough to exhaust someone, nevermind having that much familial boundary-less interaction daily.

Superman, meet your demise.

Superman, meet your demise.

But outside cheating partners and altered family relationships, social media has a greater negative affect on users: gratitude and happiness theft.

What starts as a normal, pleasant day can suddenly be uprooted with ruminating thoughts of comparison and judgment. After logging into your Twitter account and tallying the countless stay at home moms/girlfriends/wives, you begin to resent your job, resent your time wasted, resent the fact that you have to be at work.

You switch it up and log in to LinkedIn. Now you’re questioning why Susie Q has a better job than you, and if you had the job she had, you could vacation more!

Fuck it, switch to Facebook. Now you’re immersed in sunny tropical vacation pictures, statuses of “LaZy BeAcH dAy!”, and comments about houses/babies/marriage while you idly rot behind your cubicle wall.

Which brings us to the end result of social media: loss of happiness, decreased motivation, and the absence of gratitude. And don’t forget your complimentary internal freak-out behind a computer screen on a daily basis.

My daily reaction to social media comparison.

My daily reaction to social media comparison.

13 responses to “The Demise of Society.

  1. I love the JLaw gif at the end — I can totally see why this would be your reaction to social media comparison. ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t had negative experiences with Facebook until lately, and it’s generally been a great way to nurture and maintain my friendships amidst distance and being generally overscheduled like a madwoman (for example, my best friend lives in Seattle, and the 3-hour time difference and wildly conflicting schedules make it hard for us to talk on the phone all that often — so we rely on Facebook to get us through the times when we can’t talk).

    That said, I’m horrified by the idea of being “married but looking” via social media. I haven’t seen such things first-hand, but I don’t doubt that they exist — and it’s awful. It’s absurd that you’ve had to see, just by perusing your newsfeed, totally inappropriate comments between married people. It’s not okay. The issue of social media comparison is especially gnarly: FOMO is apprently driving people mildly insane, and I find that it’s rough for me in ways that I didn’t anticipate.

    I also have had a handful of negative Facebook experiences recently when friends of friends (it’s also worth noting that said friends of friends are all people whom I’ve never met) make astonishingly rude or downright mean remarks about something I’ve said. They don’t know me from Adam, and yet there seems to be this mentality that they can make sweeping character judgments based off one comment (which, in many cases, has been an inside joke between me and my friend, or some random comment which makes sense within the context of a prior conversation). If social media is going the way of the comments section in online articles — which, as we all know, is basically where decency goes to die — then we’re in for some serious trouble.

    • I always crack up at your gif’s on your blog. I was actually saying to my boyfriend the other day that I needed to start using them to add more humor in the blogs, because sometimes I write about touchy or topical subjects. A little laughter helps lighten the mood ๐Ÿ™‚

      It IS absurd that I’ve seen cheating via social media, and it’s even more absurd that people actually do it. I’m not saying I support people that leave the house to cheat either – I believe cheating is one of the lowest betrayals you can commit to someone’s heart. But, it seems rampant. Even if it’s just comment “you look so hot” on a picture of the opposite sex… if you’re married or are in a monogomous relationship, you have no business doing that sort of thing!

      FOMO (fear of missing out) is a serious issue with social media. I actually started noticing my own depression slumps and how they were often related to logging into social media sites and comparing my life to the one’s I see. It shocked me that I would allow this to happen to myself… until I started researching the topic. Apparently there are some scientific studies that have been conducted on this area, and it’s been proven that Facebook is linked to depression. What started as a fun social media website has now turned into a platform for people to compare what they have, what they don’t have, and what they are missing out on when busier than others. I fall victim to this daily – I constantly see all the fun places people are going, or things people are buying, and I get filled with envy. I stop looking at my own blessings and being grateful for all that I have that others don’t, and all that I have that makes me blissful. It’s a very interesting topic (to me)… I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Caitlin, I love this. And I face the same feelings towards social media. There is an unhealthy dependency that resides in so many people. “MUST. CHECK. FACEBOOK.” And in doing so…. a quick check of all your social media outlets ends up resulting in hours of your day being sucked out of you. I’m an active user of social media both personally and through work and I do find there to be some strong, positive aspects about the technology. But I feel that as a society we are disappearing into the zombie like glow of our computers. As you mentioned, where is the catching up aspect of family gatherings. Why have friends over for dinner when you can just check their status updates. And I think the scariest part is… there doesn’t seem to be a plateau, much less a stopping point, in sight.
    Kenley

    • Kenley, you bring up such a great point that I didn’t even think to touch upon. Some of our negative feelings that come from social media may actually be a result of spending much of our free time focused on something that makes us unhappy. We waste precious hours of our lives looking at someone’s status update, instead of living our lives.

      It’s disheartening to see the negative consequences of technology that can be so helpful. Before I wrote this blog post, I kept questioning myself – Is this too negatively portrayed? Am I just writing from a negative mindset? But in reality, I do feel the negatives outweigh the positives. When we have teenagers committing suicide because of the bullying and comparison that happens online, what have we really made of technology? Not something positive to advance people’s lives.

  3. I was happy to delete my Facebook, Linked In and Twitter because it was beginning to feel like I had more online life and interests than off. You spend a crazy amount of time, maintaining it all and it simply becomes unhealthy. We need to have a good amount of non viral interactions, concerns, and reactions too. Otherwise you start reducing off line relationships somehow I feel.

    • You hit the nail on the head… we end up putting so much of our energy into our online accounts and relationships that we tend to let the real, honest in-person relationships fall to the wayside. It always astonishes me to see people’s reaction when you casually mention deleting your FB, LinkedIn, etc. People are horrified, which makes me question… what are we so desperately trying to hold on to in the social media world?

      • And you can forge some amazing bonds via social media….however that’s rare. I believe what ends up happening is more more effective compartmentalized, and polished very of embraced self meeting other embraced selves. in other words, people can be anything on social media and we can easily some to know each others story (which can be dynamic, touching, whatever without the warts). Then you come to real life and may become impatient with people’s flaws. Then people become addicted to these ideals, as they do “porn.’

        It’s sheen, so much of the time not reality — unless a person is dedicated to getting their reality out on here?

        Anyway, so people become addicted to entertainment (as alot of people I using their constructed personas to do just that). It’s another temporary escape that becomes relied upon, so when you talk of taking it away you are suggesting they stop a drug of choice.

  4. Amen! You have verbalized thoughts and feelings that have been hovering in the back of my mind for a while. Facebook is an invasion of privacy, and although I have a Facebook page due to social and business pressure, I never post and never look at it. I am tired of the endless notifications from Linked In and Facebook, and you have motivated me to stop them today! I suppose I am guilty of being addicted to my computer because I’m a blogger…but I blog to share ideas and to provide information and I read other blogs for the same reasons…but I think Twitter, Facebook and Linked In is phoney baloney crap. It is the dumming down of society. Thank you for your fresh and honest perceptions.

    • I have pretty much let my FB fall to the wayside as well. Other than posting about new blog entries or sharing a silly picture, I stay away from it. I’ve found it’s too easy to turn to FB and vent, bitch, or complain. But at the end of the day, you’ve just shared your private life with a bunch of strangers and people you haven’t seen in years. Not only that, but the smallest annoyance one day can lead to people’s misconceptions about your life the next.

      Once I can purchase the domain here, I plan on having a FB page for The Siren’s Tale, but that will be my primary use of social media – for my writing, and that’s it. Outside of that, I’m happy soaking in the sun, talking to people in person, and living life outside!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to this great social media conversation!

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