Oh there I go again checking Facebook for the fourth time today. I feel vaguely guilty every time I do because I’m aware I’m feeding a rather pathetic addiction.
The social networking site has just celebrated its fifth year and I, like the 150 million others around the world, am hooked.
Am I incapable of real social interaction? Perhaps – but I find myself perturbed that I log on religiously just to find out that Laura is “is putting her feet up with a nice cup of tea”, or that Chris will “hopefully be awake enough t go out tomoz nite!”
There have been a number of well-documented worries about social networking sites over the past half decade. But am I concerned that someone is going to steal my identity and run up thousands of pounds worth of debt? In a word: no, and that’s not just because I don’t have any credit. Nor am I going to be unwittingly cyber-molested by a heavy breathing pervert using an alias (it would definitely have to be consensual). Nobody is going to encourage me to commit suicide (any more than usual) or develop an eating disorder.
What concerns me is that I’m developing Facebook OCD and it’s sad.
I spend a considerable amount of my time checking the banal details of my friends and acquaintances. My mum says it’s not on.
“You spend half your life staring at that Bookface thing. None of it’s real you know. Why don’t you try actually speaking to people.”
But even my mum, who professes a wish to return to the good old days of Queen Victoria, although she missed her by a good seventy years or so, has ventured (unwillingly) onto the net.
“Dear Ryan,” said one email regarding her first excursions onto the web, “NONE of this is easy . Now I am going to cut the grass . Love MUM.”
The fact is in a day and age when people regularly cross continents (at least the people I know), I like to check up on the comforting regularities of life on Facebook. It’s impossible to avoid our reliance on the electronic world: news, shopping, socializing, banking, sex. The Internet is an environment that increasingly mirrors our own.
So I’m going to put aside my mum’s criticisms, which in so many words amount to “get a life.” Yes I am a bit sad and yes some of my friends probably are too, but our sadness does not takeaway our choice of what to present on the net.
Excepting those too young to make decisions for themselves, we should have enough common sense to know what to put into the public domain and what to take from it.
And at least those that don’t can sometimes provide us with a good laugh or an interesting news story.