“Let’s keep in touch!” She exclaims.
His heart races as he nods in agreement.
She withdraws a smartphone from her petticoat pocket and flashes a smile at him. Reactively, he pulls out his phone – expecting the usual exchange of 8-digit numbers to take place.
“So how can I find you?” She asks, her eyes trained to the bright screen between her palms.
“Oh, well I live about a block away, over on South…” The young man begins.
“No, no, I meant what’s your name?” The young woman interjects, still fixating her gaze on the irresistible phosphorescence cradled in her hands.
Taken aback by her sudden forgetfulness, the young man responds, “Carl, re-remember?”
“Oh no, silly! Not that name! Your username?” The young woman continues, yet to pull her attention away from her glimmering device.
“Ha!” The young man sighs. “I go by ‘CaCap00’ on Facebook. We can chat there or…”
Again, the girl interjects; this time, with a sigh, “I don’t chat on Facebook; that’s just for updates about Kittles, my cat. I use Snapchat for mani-pedi updates, Instagram for, like, everyday stuff, Twitter for celeb gossip…”
Let’s just leave our two star-crossed lovers there, shall we?
Notice a problem with the interaction depicted above? Does anything seem a little off? No?
The day a person’s online presence veritably eclipses their physical presence in relative importance to those they are ‘interacting with’ is the day humanity, as a whole, collapses in a wave of digital stupidity.
Now, I’m not arguing against the importance and utility of reasonable use of this incredible neural network we call the Internet. However, the line between reasonable and unreasonable use of ‘social’ media is constantly being crossed these days, despite the difference being about as subtle as that between a cup of milk and a herd of pygmy goats.
Without withdrawing our phones, we can easily make out just what’s so wrong with the current social media craze:
1. It has lost touch with its original purpose – socializing.
Let’s all be honest here, just for a moment. When was the last time you actually felt truly engaged with a single individual on social media? How engaged did you feel? Edge of your seat engaged or “I’m literally on my toilet typing this” engaged?
Social media is not very good for the whole ‘social’ part. If anything, social media is ideal for bombarding everyone you know (and don’t know; more on this later) with snippets and tidbits about your life that they may or may not need or want unlimited access to. Real, meaningful conversations are exceptions on this bizarre digital landscape, not the norm.
2. Me, Me, ME, AHEM, ME!
Remember the charming little seagulls of “Finding Nemo?” If I recall correctly, their favorite (and perhaps only) expression was “MINE!”
What has that got to do with the price of tea in China? Well, it seems social media is an excellent way to become the human equivalent of those same silly seagulls. Simply exchange “MINE” for “ME” and we have a match.
In less ambiguous terms, social media is the perfect format to accommodate senseless self-aggrandizement at the expense of genuine self-worth. It’s no secret that the loudest person in the room is often the most insecure. What, then, is there to say of the shameless braggarts we all become online?
3. Who ARE these people?
Introverted as I may be, I still love meeting new, interesting people. That being said, just how many of the ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ we have online qualify as true friend and follower material? How many even qualify as acquaintance material? In my own experience, precious few.
Most online ‘friends’ are a jolly bunch of weirdos we’d never want to be around in real life. The rest are made up of beloved family members/close friends whom we already communicate with by much more personal means and acquaintances we wish we could forget, but must suffer through a half-baked ‘relationship’ with instead.
How many online ‘friends’ would you be ok with never seeing the faces of so long as you live? My guess is far too many.