Social networking: The end of real communication

By LauraNalin

When I was younger and postage stamps were still in fashion, girls from my circle of friends would send out chain letters. You had to send the letter to ten people and in turn, you would receive anything from little trinkets to a pair of socks in the mail.

Once the age of the Internet arrived, I began to receive e-chain letters, which consisted of listing things such as your favorite songs or the name of your best friend, and at the bottom of the letter it would read, “Scroll down and make a wish.” I would wish for completely ridiculous things such as to marry Travis Barker of Blink 182 or JC Chasez of ’90s boy band N’SYNC. Instead of getting anything tangible in the mail, I would wish for completely unattainable people or objects, which in hindsight, seems selfish.

Because of the invention of the Internet, I think our society has become narcissistic. Social networking Web sites, especially Facebook, have accelerated this process. It has made people feel as though we are removed from reality, creating an unhealthy virtual identity.

Last year, a new type of chain letter made the news nationwide. It was called “25 Things About Me.” I remember being so confused as to why, on a social networking site, where I can read someone’s activities, interests, favorite movies, books, music, quotes, see their ridiculous pictures from last weekend and read the “about me” section of their page that serves as some sort of identity construction, there is a reason they would write 25 things about themselves to share with the world.

To be honest, I don’t care if you prefer your bagels with lox sans cream cheese or if your most embarrassing moment was when you fell off your bike at age 9. I really don’t care for the narcissism that has come along with the obsession of these social networking sites. I don’t understand why someone can’t tell me over a beer what their favorite band is rather than tagging me in a note for me to read on my computer screen.

Call me old-fashioned, but I value having personal connections with people. I much prefer a face-to-face conversation where interesting facts come up over time rather than a quick discussion on Facebook chat. There is a lot that you can learn from someone else, but reading this information on a computer screen instead of having actual conversations is hardly the way to do it. We lost all sense of communication through technology that we have become so dependent on.

A new, self-centered Facebook note that has been circulating the Web site during the past few weeks exemplifies this narcissistic culture we have evolved into. In it, someone asks their friends to submit their favorite memories they have shared throughout their friendship. The individual that puts together this note hand-selects the people that they wish to respond to the completely ridiculous request.

It’s not that I am opposed to this idea, I mean, who doesn’t love looking back on something that happened and laughing about it? I just think it is a completely inauthentic way of doing it.

Facebook has also added a new sidebar, which displays someone’s name and reads “re-connect with them” below with the option to post something on their wall.  Are we unable to pick up a telephone anymore? I live nine hours away from my home in Pittsburgh, so I understand that it is not always possible to be able to see some of my friends as much as I’d like to, but we still make it a point to talk on the phone or video chat at least once a week.

The bottom line is it’s not you, Facebook, it’s me. I love the Web site as much as the next person, and although I waste many hours looking through it on a daily basis, I refuse to use it as my only source of communication or as a creation of my identity.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.