A year ago, on a cozy December evening, I was on my Facebook page, scrolling down tens and hundreds of status updates, article shares, jokes, pictures, and videos. For a moment my eyes fell on the annoying and ubiquitous game requests that had come in from my friends.
My scrolling continued and one status post caught my attention. It took me a moment before I figured out exactly what it was. It was an image of a developing fetus on the ultrasound monitor screen, posted by an expectant mother, apparently, who had a scan for the first time to check on the embryo in her womb.
For a minute I was appalled. Then I moved on, but psychologically I didn’t. The post and the picture kept appearing in my mind. I can understand the mother’s feeling of seeing her baby for the first time on the scan monitor and wanting to share it.
I guess I can say that we now live in a post-Facebook era, where even before the child is exposed to the first rays of daylight in the outside world, he or she is already on Facebook, as a picture, and of course with innumerable ‘likes’ and ‘comments’. The post was quite unique and something ‘funky’ or ‘cool’ as our generation may call it. Anyway, to each his own.
In another incident, an avid gym lover had posted a picture of his own face—bleeding, as a result of some equipment falling onto and crushing his nose.
They like me…they like me not
Now forget pictures. There are these so-called ‘status’ updates. Long ago it only meant the status of a person in the societal structure. Today, status updates are everywhere. It changes every hour or maybe on a daily basis, depending on who it is.
From posting trivial feelings to bragging about how many friend requests one has got, from one’s father’s sad demise to what they munched on for lunch, it is just endless, and most of the time it doesn’t make any sense.
I mean who cares about what someone eats for their lunch, or in whichever restaurant they are in, with whoever they are with? I know it feels special and exciting at the time but that doesn’t give them the license to share such personal details to the whole world. I wonder what makes them do that.
This action most of the time stems from attention-seeking behavior. Young people today want to be heard. They want someone to listen to how they feel, whether they are down-in-the-dumps or on top-of the-world.
It is a sad fact about life. Most people do not listen to what the other person has to say. All they have are bright ideas and suggestions even before the other person can finish their thoughts. And this is the result. Hoping someone, somewhere reads the post and comments or at least likes it, which brings some sort of comfort to their longing hearts.
Most of these posts also say something about the acceptance-factor. The more ‘likes’ they earn, the more accepted they feel. Most posts are meant to suggest, ‘Hey look. I’m cool’, ‘I’m more interesting’, ‘I have a better life than you all’, and sometimes it’s just pure self-exaggeration to evoke jealousy. Maybe?
Another updating trend on Facebook is the style of updating one’s location constantly. I mean is this a trail that they leave behind for someone to stalk them? And possibly devise one’s own kidnapping? Who knows who is stalking them through their locations updated online in the big world out there? It’s a haven for identity thieves and other maniacs who might probably use it for their own advantage.
The site also offers an option where you can update your personal contact numbers, and almost your whole history including the school you graduated from, colleges you attended, and your work history and phew…. What not? Right. Now this is amazing fodder for being a victim of identity theft, and I’m not sure whether the general population out there has realized this or not. I hope they do.
On top of that, elderly citizens have also joined the bandwagon with their uber-cool younger counterparts. I know while they were growing up they never had all these gizmos or the magical virtual world. Well, as long as they post wisely, which I’m sure they do, they’re safe.
Of course there is a stark contrast in what men post compared to women. Posting what is personal or private is up to the individuals to decide, but yes, there needs to be a boundary. Sharing extremely personal, irrelevant, obscene, bloody, violent stuff on the wall surely invites a big no-no from good hearted social patrons at least.
Also the posts do affect an individual’s psychologically. Numerous researches have proved that they can lead to depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness or isolation. The number of ‘likes’ on a post determines the happiness-quotient in that person’s mind. It is like, they are all bored with life and suddenly they have this unexplained exhilaration happening that they long to see in the form of messages, likes, comments and notifications waiting for them each time they login which, according to them, defines their worthiness and value. This is a big trap and doesn’t last for long.
And yes, we all have been tempted to check mails, messages, and Facebook updates in the middle of the night, when out of nowhere this insatiable desire crops up. The human mind always craves for something sensational,filled with happening events one after the other to keep going. Or else life becomes ‘normal’ or’ boring’ as it is usually termed.
Leaving aside college students, all the career professionals need to be mindful in what they post. I have seen many of them vent out in frustration against their bosses, spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, and employers. This could result in irreparable damage when noticed by somebody who probably shouldn’t be seeing it. That’s one of the reasons why I recently advised a group of students at a talk, that it would save them a great deal of pain to deactivate their profiles during job searches. I know it is unfair to check out personal Facebook pages of candidates by the employers, which most of the time will have no connection to who they are personally and professionally. But the Facebook era is here and this is how it is at the moment.
So it is crucial and just takes a little common sense in using Facebook wisely and of course, there are a lot of fun-filled healthy elements associated with it. Individuals who are addicted to smartphones and social networking sites should first acknowledge the issue and then try changing their lifestyles, or even perhaps, some clinical counseling might help them bounce back and take control of their lives.
It has been 10 long years ever since Facebook came into existence. And it has revolutionized the world around us, dictating our lives from the time we first blink in the morning, till the moment we hit the bed. It is not about what is around us, but rather how we respond and be in charge, knowing our true identity, purpose and destiny tailored by the Creator Himself.