The Social Networking Syndrome

Now while you go along judging my age and me before reading this post, I say hold your horses. While I’m a perfectly young 20-something who was not only there when the likes of Orkut and My Space happened, but also during the sad days  of mIRC and ICQ. Oh wait, that does imply I’m ancient! But it also indicates that I am highly experienced in what once used to be ‘random internet interaction‘ and is now ‘familiar social networking‘. It’s all about replacing old ideas with new technology and giving them a fancy name. You will be shunned if you are even caught referring to using ‘Facebook Chat’ or ‘Google Talk’ as ‘chatting‘ – that is soooo 90’s dah-lings isn’t it? My non-simpleton readers are just cringing with disgust right now. sigh.

Having spent the morning reading a case study on Nintendo Wii and desiring one (again, donations are duly welcome) – I couldn’t help but post this before I went back to studying. After all, I have literally been dreaming about writing this post. Revelations if you must.

So here’s how it goes, back in the late 90’s the internet was a rarity in my part of the world and my Celebrity Sister would generously allocate 15 whole minutes (fortnightly basis only) to me for ‘internet usage’.  This basically entailed me randomly going on to ‘irc‘ (as we called it back then) and talk to random people. Yes, that is sad. And in those 900 sweet seconds I thought I was at the peak of technology as it was happening. This was the 90’s baby and I was there. Well, in retrospect, not even close. But the possibility of being in a space where people didn’t know anything about you was perfect. In a city, where the ‘cool‘ few were distinct quite obviously from the ‘random‘ many this was an opportunity to make yourself just about anyone. It was a dream come true. Of course later, finding out that the person you’re talking to is also your brother’s friend who in real life thinks you’re a complete dork would not work out for you. But that’s another story.

The ‘chat platforms‘ (just to save myself from all those savvy people reading this post), continued to evolve. We decided that talking to random people was perhaps not the way to go. We decided to leave that to the online forums and ‘interest chat rooms’, which we weren’t really interested in to begin with. We stuck to the likes of MSN and then the true purpose in life was the number of contacts I can gain? Do I have more ‘friends’ than my friend x or even better am I running out of categories to put people in? And yes, while we believed the random contacting was sooo out of fashion we seriously thought adding people with random email addresses with ‘cute’, ‘sweet’, ‘caring’ and the best of them all, a cartoon character, was perhaps the best description of someone’s personality. Sigh, good old presumptuous days.

As the possibilities of the internet expanded and we all got cable television (yes, I’m from that time too) we felt closer to the celebrities we all aspired to be. Not necessarily pop stars and actors but business tycoons, authors, royal family members and even philanthropists. We had more information about them, we had websites dedicated to them – we somehow felt inspired to lead their busy lives or learn from their personalities. I remember spending tons of time on such websites tracking future tours of (I don’t want to say boy bands I still have a reputation) some very popular music bands. Now we all started looking for the opportunity to really be ‘someone’ beyond our happening (read: sordid) lives. Besides, this was the age of the internet, wasn’t it ‘Time’ that named ‘You’ as person of the year in 2006. This was supposed to be our fucking time damn it.

And hence, along came Orkut. This social networking site was launched when I was in my undergrad (stop making calculations, you won’t get very far) and it was all over the place. This was what we wanted, a web page dedicated to ourselves with our friends and what we like or believe in and of course, we could all use a good ego rub with an endorsement from a good friend. Yes, that’s right, you write me an endorsement and I am your best friend. Those were the days! Now this stumped irc and MSN – why? Because now we didn’t randomly talk to people, only interacted with those we knew AND could first scan profiles of. Perhaps, ‘stalking’ would be too harsh a word? It was perfect, you go out with a few people, see someone you want to get to know, look them up on Orkut, get to know them on the very authentic information they post about themselves and befriend them. The world, an ideal, happy happy place.

And if we thought Orkut had offered everything we needed, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, trod along to make things better (read: worse for some of us). I must admit, I was as hooked on to Facebook as anyone else who belonged to my generation (yes, laugh!). People follow people right? (quite literally in the case of Facebook and Twitter) – Facebook was a better version of Orkut. A lot more interactive, more personalized, can almost be considered the ‘inventor’ of apps (Sorry Steve Jobs) and best of all it was fun. Moving on from our celebrity profiles on Orkut – we now had a better opportunity not only to form a super sexy profile (come on, it’s true) with the basics from Orkut but add pictures and applications, show off what hot events we’ll be attending this season (you know who you are) and play games – Facebook took on a life of it’s own and had everyone and anyone signing up. While I thoroughly enjoyed Facebook-ing initially, (and I understand this is a very difficult realization for most to reach) there are some things about the site that I still can’t stand. Yet I end up there (usually, without even knowing it, sneaky browsers and fingers definitely conspiring) just to get an update on what’s happening. So for those of you who live by Facebook – I suggest you stop reading for others who enjoy the madness that is Facebook (most times) please read and enjoy the following observations:

1. Random news pieces of extra active people on my profile

You see there is a fine line between reporting an important (questionable) event in your life and giving second by second updates of what you are doing now. No, I do not want to know about your sudden need to inform your 400+ friends that you are bored. Clearly, you’re active on Facebook for a reason. Definitely, don’t want to know about your new found mole and what it might mean. There are medical practitioners for those things.

2. The Games

Thankfully the Farmville phase has finally ended (What? You’re still playing? I think the ‘Facebook Fashionables‘ are looking at you with a lot of disappointment right now) . If I heard one more person I was meeting physically mention their ‘ruined crop’ I would have smashed them. And not in the Facebook app way.

3. My Number of Friends Vs. Your Number of Friends

This battle resulted in, random people I had seen for at least more than 5 years of my life in school everyday yet never spoken to, adding me as their ‘friends’. Now it’s tricky, if you add them you’re just accepting their non-existent friendship but if you don’t you just might see them randomly some day and all you can think of is them thinking – ‘Bitch, never added me‘ and you’re thinking  ‘Damn, I should have added her to avoid the unsaid awkward confrontation.’ You see, it’s quite sticky.

4. Profile Chain

Now some of you may not realize this but when we log in to Facebook randomly, we’re not really looking to spend more than a few minutes on our profiles (stop glaring addicts, I know you spend all day on the darn site while you’re pretending to be busy on your computers at work). But for some of us, we just want to hop in and hop out. That’s not how it works though does it? You start with an innocent log in which usually results in randomly clicking on a comment or a video. This is all just working as per our original plan – BUT little do we realize, this is what’s really happening – suddenly the time is almost 20 minutes past your original allocated time, you’re on some random page or profile that you have basically nothing to do with and you have just ‘liked‘ 3 pages you have no real interest in and you’re about to click on a link / article / video only because 5 people you know think it’s awesome. So for some of us with a weak tolerance of random Facebook-ing, this can be prove to be rather exhausting and mind numbing.

5. ‘Awesome Life’ Update

Here’s the problem, like I said earlier, we all want an opportunity to flaunt our lives – hence, the complete devotion to making our lives ‘look’ (pay attention) – as breathtakingly amazing as possible and even if they aren’t we’ll add an ‘interesting twist’ to it. This incessant need to jazz up every small ‘detail’ of our lives – I fail to understand its mere purpose.

Cartoon Credit: The Boy

Case in point 1:

Current status in real time – Boss at work just gave you shit about some work you were supposed to do, things are relatively down for you today. Perfectly normal down, nothing to go over the moon about.

Current status on Facebook – Oh my God, Some people just suck so much. Looking forward to my ice cream this evening. (because we all care!)

Case in point 2:

[Abc & xyz are good friends. They meet at school, post school hang out with friends, probably are on each others’ fancy chat lists and also are on each other’s bbms (blackberry messengers dah-lings, try and cope now will you) through which they actively communicate – however here’s their conversation on Facebook]

abc: Xyzzzzz, i just saw x movie and omg he looks so hot and did you see him??

xyz: Yes, I saw I saw. And I didn’t tell you guess who I ran into. Wait I’ll bbm you.

abc: Who who? didn’t get your message yet. Btw, what a hottie pic of you and jklm [insert some hearts].

abc: OMG – I just got your message NOWAY! I’m so excited can’t wait to get more details.

xyz: I KNOW. Can’t wait to give you details. Wait, I’ll call you now or no wait I’ll bbm you. Thanks for the pic [insert heart] – I have a few more from that day just bbm-ing them to you.

abc: Nooooo, call me, omg I can’t wait to hear it all.

xyz: Okay calling calling.

Now that I have spent a significant time drafting this 1700 word post – I think I should move back to those finals I have next week!

  1. Jo said:

    Yay!! I’m so happy I discovered your blog 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying Australia!!
    Big hugs!

    • hahaha – non-subtle marketing finally working:) I’m in the down under of the down under :p

      Thanks for subscribing and do spread the word. 🙂

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