Some people prefer online
social networking to real life

By Benjamin Custer
Texarkana Gazette (Published January 2011)

People used to savor their private lives. Now, they cannot display enough of them.

Not long ago, finding one’s self alone at home surfing the web on a Friday night would be disappointing. Now, many people prefer engrossing themselves in the interconnected-yet-isolating online world of social networking to a tangible social life.

Seemingly everyone and his mother (and in some cases, even his grandmother) have succumbed to the appeal of social networking. Websites such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter seem to get as many hits as search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

In fact, if you visit any classroom across the country you will find teachers vehemently lecturing and students just as passionately typing on their laptops . . . updating their latest Facebook or Twitter statuses, that is!

Social networking has become so ingrained in our culture—specifically the younger generations—that many people find their lives centered on social profiles. Popularity is gauged by the number of people who have added you as a friend, and the depth of your friendship is determined by whether or not you are on their top-five or top-10 friends list.

Gossip now spawns from people’s updates, and a couple can determine how well their relationship is going by each other’s posts. Some people have discovered through a Facebook relationship status that their relationship had ended. Remember the days when breaking up over the phone was considered objectionable? Social networking takes inadvisable breakup methods to a new low.

Most cell phones are now equipped with applications that allow you to check your social life with one touch. As impersonal as texting used to seem, predominantly using a cell phone for checking one’s profile has managed to surpass it.

The emergence of e-mail faced resistance when some people argued it could not rival the sincerity of hand-written letters. Even e-mail has become virtually obsolete now, however, as most online communication occurs on online profiles.

As someone who has never been involved with social networking, I have waited the past couple of years for the phenomenon to blow over. Sadly, it has only become more culturally prevalent.

The problem is social networking is not a fad—it is a new way of life. It has turned younger generations into mass exhibitionists. As people upload more pictures, post more updates and add more blogs they scream, “Look at me! Look at my life!”

The world doesn’t need to know you just took a shower and are watching a “That ’70s Show” marathon while eating chocolate ice cream.

I have witnessed people going on trips and taking pictures specifically for their online profiles. Instead of enjoying the moment, many people seem to live for their next post.

Social networking has become an obsession, an addiction many refuse or fail to acknowledge. Sure, it has its positive aspects such as re-establishing contact with old friends and acquaintances and maintaining contact with long-distance family. I believe, however, that the downside far outweighs the upside.

Users need to realize that social networking has a place, and that place is not what everything else should revolve around.