August 31, 2013

KNISELY: Living social, for real


---- — I’m off Facebook … again.

I went off the social media site earlier this year for a couple-month stint. It was a great experience. I should have just stayed off.

Facebook is an unnatural evolution of human involvement. People come and go out of our lives, but on Facebook, their presence lingers.

It used to be you’d leave high school and venture out into the big world to find new friends and new experiences. You’d revisit your classmates every decade or so at the reunion and undoubtedly compare your life to theirs and see if you stack up. But in the post-Facebook world, you have an ever-open window into their lives and, for many, that means the comparisons are ongoing.

The site also keeps you connected to people you’re not connected to in the real world, i.e. past relationships or severed friendships.

I guess you could say it’s all in how you use the online tool. I’ll give you that, but argue we’ve all used Facebook in unhealthy ways. Yes, I’m talking to you, person who is shaking their head no right now.

I know for me, I’ve found that I tend to see my friends less often yet I feel like I know what goes on in their lives because of our connection on Facebook. But I really don’t know what’s going on with them; I just know what they post on Facebook. I see pictures and feel like I’m there. But isn’t the point, though, to actually be there?

And that’s only half the problem. Sometimes Facebook is just plain annoying. You can love someone but absolutely hate them online. People will say things in Facebook posts they would never say in the light of day.

The status update box is a breeding ground for passive aggressive behavior. When it comes to making posts on Facebook, annoying people fall into two categories: The Oversharer and The Undersharer. I’m not sure which is worse, a post full of innuendo and hidden meaning or a post full of unnecessary intimate details.

I was always careful what I said on Facebook for two reasons: 1) I don’t want to fall into one of the two aforementioned categories and 2) You never know who’s listening.

Jobs have been lost and lives have been ruined by things that have been posted on Facebook.

There’s no privacy online. It just plain doesn’t exact. There’s always someone tracking; there’s always someone watching; there’s always someone listening. Even if that “someone” is a supercomputer in some distant, air-conditioned server room, that supercomputer doesn’t forget and who knows who will someday access that information.

And it’s scary to think there’s a generation coming of age that doesn’t know life without Facebook. It’s a generation that posts every detail of their lives online. They’re making these posts in a time of their lives when they’re not the best decision makers.

And I can say that from personal experience. I made some pretty stupid decisions when I was 16. But fortunately all the people involved or knew about those poor decisions and the resulting consequences have long forgotten. There was no Facebook for me to post my adolescent indiscretions on, and there was no Google cache to never let me forget my wrongs.

I cringe when I see someone under 18 on Facebook. I worry it’s a travesty waiting to happen.

But, alas, I can’t speak for them or anyone else, but for me, I’m staying off Facebook for a while. Instead, I’m going to reprioritize my life and put more thought into how I spend my time.

I’m going spend time with my friends in real life.

Misty Knisely is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5155 or at