I remembered it was 12 years since I had my very first Friendster account. A Friendster (or MySpace) profile page was basically filled with a short bio and interests. It is akin to making an avatar, where you can get creative and write whatever on it. And by being social in a social media was about visiting each other’s profile page, and leaving “testimonies”. Messaging felt more like sending and receiving emails. You had an inbox, an outbox, and a composer page.
As for chatting, there’s an instant messenger.
When you went online, people who were in your contact list can see that you were online. They could simply hit on and say hello to chat. Not keen on chatting anyone? Simply turn the status to invisible or appear offline.
Oh how I missed that time when you had a luxury of setting messenger status. When people knew when someone was going off and it’s time to say good bye. Nowadays with Internet on your hands and an always-on messenger, we no longer know when someone is available for chat, or simply assume that everyone is available at any time. On the other hand, we may not really setting aside a time to really engage in a chat. We just reply on messages on the go, while eating, while commuting, or doing business in the toilet.
Back then chatting was more like chatting in real life, where people greeted each other, talked for as long as they’d like, and closed a conversation with a goodbye. Now we don’t really know whether we are still in the middle of a conversation when someone replies a day, or (gasp) a week later. Sometimes a conversation hung just like that. I have been in both the sender and receiving end of the conversation and honestly it didn’t feel nice at all.
Back to the topic of social media, fast forward 12 years, the platform is very much different now. I have always known that being social means to interact with each other. Each other means the interaction is mutual and bidirectional. And how I see it now it has turned into a publishing platform and interactions on a social media has reduced to likes and collecting followers.
What do you publish on social media like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Well, whatever a human can think of. Publishing political views, marketing and selling products, selfies, memes, cat videos, personal drama, and more selfies.
I recall people (including me) who ditched TV for Internet reasoned that why would I sit in front of a TV, consuming low quality programs and watching 15 minutes of ads for every 5 minute of an actual program (at least that’s how Indonesian TV channels run in general).
And now I wonder, why would I stare on my feeds watching random people bragging about things I don’t care about. Or posting selfies with seductive poses and revealing clothes. Or paid reviews by so called “influencers”. Or viral news (and hoaxes). And of course advertisements everywhere.
See, if I want to check out latest news there are news sites. If I want to watch cat videos there’s YouTube for that. If I feel like scrolling through memes there’s 9gag. If I want to see seductive girls (or guys if you prefer them) a
porn site K-pop music video is way better than those selfies.
Anyway the thing is that how I see it, social medias have turned into trashy TV shows of the Internet age. It wastes time, filled with low quality contents and ads, one way broadcasting, superficiality and the broken rating system, in the form of likes.
Many psychologists have written about the negative effects social media has on people’s well being. And how rating system reinforced a false sense of self as well as killing creativity since people becoming more driven to create contents with a known formula which would gain more likes than being creative with new contents.
About three years ago I had experimented (as I wrote in my blog) living without social media for a month. It was difficult at first (how addicting it is!). But now, honestly I don’t give second thought when deactivating my accounts and uninstalling the apps.
If in any ocassion you’d ask me whether which social media I am on, and what’s my handle name, my social media is a coffee shop. My handle is a cup. Add me to your appointment list and let’s meet up there 🙂