Saturday, November 23, 2013

The un-social network

DSC01596Yesterday, a friend told me that another friend of ours was being unkind to a third, mutual friend on Facebook.  I went online,but couldn’t see anything amiss.

You don’t have a problem with she wrote?  Umm, no. 

She read me a little.  You think that’s okay?  That’s not what I’m reading, though…   and it dawned on me that I was seeing a sanitized version of her timeline, not complete.  The settings had been tweaked and personalized.

I sighed and quietly removed her as a friend.  Trust matters.

Facebook wasn’t always like this.  When I first joined, it was a bulletin board system that classmates used to arrange parties and share photos. Then a wave of high school and college friends appeared, and it was a big reunion catching up with how everyone’s family and careers had evolved.  Finally, as an expat, it morphed again into a way to share bits of life with family and friends.

Increasingly, though, it feels like there’s more posing and spite. People propagate versions of their lives that are, at best, aspirational distortions, disconnected from meaningful or important events and people.  They inflict petty slights on one another, severing friendships, adjusting privacy, and setting barbs to when angered or hurt.

It’s not surprising that surveys are showing that heavy Facebook use undermines happiness.  And this is apart from the mis-targeted ads for mobility assistance and Dutch girls that incongruously clutter my timelines.  I’m not quite to the point of pulling out, but I’m definitely using it less and being a bit more particular about who I share company with.

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