When Social Media Becomes Too Social
While forms of social media may have been in existence for the past 30 years, its parameters are still loosely defined. @BrettBorders of socialmediarockstar.com gives an informative history of digital media’s trajectory, from phone phreaking and codelines to Tweetup-like gatherings called 2600 Meetings where techies could meet and discuss current events and best practices in the tech world. Since those first early days we’ve taken great pains to improve upon the original forms of digital bulletin boards (now we have Craigslist), instant messenger applications (do you seriously still use AOL Instant Messenger?) and file sharing (Napster who?) with the birth of social networking/media mammoths like Facebook, Twitter, iTunes and other sites and applications with mass appeal. Relentless coverage of countless new social sites has infiltrated the three spheres of life – work, home and play – like the Herpes of technology. The act of sharing, be it music, photos or data, through virtual communities seems to tie together all that falls under the banner of this meteoric trend. But what seems to be heavily trending these days is the act of sharing too much information on these sites. Does social media’s constant drive to share eradicate the line where personal boundaries would have physically occurred?
Case in point, @UrbanDaddy recently featured the launch of an appalling new Web Site describing it with the tag line, “Digital notches for your online belt.” If you’ve ever wondered what you get when you cross Google Maps with brazen blow-hards and Tweet-like functionality, look no further than ijustmadelove.com, a site where you can share your mind-blowing sexcapades (who, what, when and where) with digital voyeurs all too willing to listen. Another example: a friend on Facebook has recently been gracing the Statusphere with details of her impending divorce to the point where I’ve started suffering from chronic News bleeds. Another girl I reconnected with gave me all-too-candid details about how her recent pregnancy was a mistake. Need I remind you of the countless politicians’ children whose underage drinking and recreational drug use habits have been ousted – by their own admission – on Facebook or Myspace? Being that I only joined Facebook last year, was it always this way?
A little research shows that social media may have taken a drastic turn when Myspace first allowed teenagers to begin using its services is 2004. A year later, Facebook began allowing folks of all email types, not just university conventions, to join the site, including high school students and working professionals. I’d be willing to bet that it’s somewhere between 2004-05 that social media began its rapid descent into the underbelly of public narcissism. Not because teenagers come with plenty of viruses but because what does a typical 15 year-old have to say that’s worth mass promulgation?
I’m not sh*tting on social media (says the girl who frequently contributes to her company blog). Resistance to that effort is futile – entire hand-held devices and even cars have been designed for social media to operate at optimal functionality, @BenMezrich has even written an entire book (soon-to-be big screen movie) paying homage to the history of Facebook’s development. But what I am looking for is more meaningful ways to utilize these powerful tools – because your half-nude photos from your half-*ss, aspiring modeling career coupled with who you were boinkin’ last night while you worried about who was getting custody of your kid ain’t cutting for me.
Posted by Elizabeth