Social media is probably the fastest and largest growing phenomenon in modern ways of thinking about how people communicate with one another. Who we are, what we say, and how we feel are all expressions of the self that are in a state of perpetual surveillance due to the high volume and demands of these websites. Because much of how we perceive individuals around us, and more importantly ourselves, is generated through technically processed updates and uploads, it is only fitting that feelings and emotional attachments would follow us into the digital landscape. The piece “Why Facebook Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself” underscores the relationship between user happiness and its relation to experiencing Facebook friends’ photos, posts, and cultural happenings. The idea that people are so comfortable with comparing their lives up against other people does not seem all that radical when we think in terms of desire and goals. I think people, from an early age, are socialized to figure out what they want by understanding what they don’t have; a young adult may compare a lack of control in their life to the perceived unadulterated freedom that adulthood holds. People compare themselves with celebrities and that type of lifestyle, because they are often on the outside looking into the party. Now with the emergence of environments like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr there are so many different lives to compare with. For all of the connecting that these sites may do, operating on them and updating our lived realities into a computer is usually a very lonely process. Sitting on a computer and scrolling through the massive amounts of pictures and uploads that seem to keep Facebook timelines percolating can be an exhaustive exercise that has become a quotidian reflex. Just as brushing one’s teeth or preparing sandwich is seen as second nature, it is also the fashion for many people to instantly log on to Facebook as soon as they boot up their Internet browser. With newer, aesthetically stimulating, features that just seem to never end, Facebook is growing and getting smarter every season and like sheep to a shepherd, we must all follow in suit.
I do not think Facebook users are immature or silly (yeah, I use it too), but I think we are clawing at the same kind of answer at the end of the day: With over a billion users, how do I stay relevant and unique? Indeed everyone’s pages are specific to the user like DNA, but this does not compensate for the fact that there are millions of them out there. The conversation then turns into internal battles of feeling underappreciated and even more isolated this digital dynasty. “Why didn’t I get more ‘likes’ one this picture?” “Why won’t someone ‘share’ this cool video?” “That’s odd, no one’s wrote on my Timeline in a while.” These are the thoughts that must nag at people who use Facebook as a tool to boost their self-esteem and confidence. Of course, it feels nice to get some attention from friends on the issues and events that mean a lot to us, but what happens when those little red boxes for notifications stop popping up? I think it is becoming easier for some individuals to make the emotional connection that if their friends and families do not ‘Like’ certain things then maybe they really do not like them at all. It is almost like we all have that one friend online who gets it all; plenty of people comments on their posts, they seem to know just about everyone, and every time the sneeze, we all get a cold. As much as a lot of Facebookers may not want to admit it, this can be a huge turnoff. It is easy to make the assumption that the web is a place for misfits to inhabit. Those who cannot play in the real world, create new spaces for inclusion and identity. It would appear that those who are out partying, enjoying their jobs, and love being soccer moms would not have time for the amateur hour fun of Facebook, but it seems we are all packed in this microwave with the heat turned up. Jealousy is an easy friend to the “have-nots” especially when it seems like the “haves” are taking up all the free air. At the root of most social media sites is an agenda to connect people and bridge gaps, but I think sooner or later people just get better at seeing the differences in everyone. People walk among us, but they are not one of us.