Bryce Benefield 7/1/14
Once again, the world has changed. Barring extraordinary circumstances, the digital trail we all post has replaced face to face communication as the primary source of people’s opinions about one another. I realized this during my four year stint without social media of any kind. There are three basic social media classifications, those with a good face book, those with a bad face book and those without a face book. One would think that not having one stands in-between the two options of a good or bad page, however what I have found is that people are more concerned that you have a Facebook rather than its make-up. My best guess at the foundation for this is that people want not only a transparent government and list of rules, they want to interact with transparent people, even if it’s only superficially. Today the number of friends you have seems to be more important than the type of clothes you wear or your character. And if you don’t believe me, ask yourself if you checked your significant other’s face book before you said yes to a committed relationship. Do you search for someone on Facebook to verify their personality?
The good part of this shift in social behavior nation-wide, no, world-wide is that transparency can be a good thing, a constant flow of intimate information which was prepared with publication in mind is a win for everyone. It makes personal contact more feasible, making it very easy to organize large groups of very different people. It allows people to assess others better, so that they understand who near them is ignorant, belligerent, diplomatic, etc. The process of developing business connections and networks has become substantially expedited under the capitalist trail, being lighter, denser, faster, and leading to the hiring of stronger and more specifically qualified candidates. Dating as well has become expedited, there’s no more milling about in a bar that your unfamiliar with, you can contact people from the comfort of your home.
Unfortunately, there are some substantial concerns regarding the negative effects of this civilization altering trend. I think that the biggest issue is that it builds connections based around very superficial criteria. The number of friends you have is not an indication of your character, the manner in which you post snapshots of your life with photography could result in a thousand words, but that’s still a drop in the ocean of your life. This leads me to two conclusions, one that we should all take a step back and remind each other that there is life beyond your social media habits worth knowing before you judge someone, which is unlikely. The other is that people will develop a dependency on this new information platform, it happened with written language, printed literature, information technology, and it will happen here too. Ask an accountant to balance his books without QuickBooks or Excel, I venture to say they couldn’t do it; it’s because they’re critically dependent. My concern is that this superficial face card people post onto the internet will leave people more alone and isolated than before, if we develop skills to dominate social media in order to be well liked there will certainly be people left behind; regardless of the others who do really well. After all, interacting with people in person is absolutely more intimate, where we who observe can see and feel the depth of someone’s soul, the triumphs, passions, and pains that come with being alive and in the flesh. Thus, lets tread lightly and judge slowly.