Face it, the virtual community is unreal. Oh, the people behind the avatars/gravatars are real, their personas, questionably so. We put a face forward; it’s not quite the real thing. Everything we allow onto our profiles is intentional: The profile picture, the status update, the comments we make, the postcards we write about everyday life. When we ‘Like’ something, it’s not so much that we truly like the thing, it’s that we want to tell other people who we are by association. Like The New York Times, and it shows I’m an intellectual. Like Texas Hold’em and it shows I am savvy about card games. Take an online quiz which determines which useless pokemon you are and you’re telling the world you’re ( obviously) below 21, quite bored, and have a clever/cute sense of humour. But are you truly all of that?
How real is the virtual community when everything we put up there or share is intentional?
Sure, some things are accidental, like when someone else tags you in a photo and your friends can miscontrue it or take it out of context. I’m not a party animal, even though I wore a Hawaiian lei and had a beer in my hand. Or, Yes, I did go to Harry’s but I only drank Perrier.
And you make comments that in the real world would sound utterly normal and inane. But onscreen, pixellated in 10 pt Arial, simple thoughts, ideas, lazy words, are broadcast and become larger-than-life. People read between the lines. They get shocked. Does she have a crush on him? This is the nth time she has ‘liked’ his lame comment. Something’s up. Ooh, look at that photo. It looks like a club. I didn’t know he was the type. What?! He posted a music vid of George Michael? How lame is that? Haha.Lastly, it is a belief widely-held that if you’re stuck in a horrid traffic jam, posting an update that you are stuck will cause your car to move forward faster.
Hold everything. Here are five reasons why you need to take reality checks and take Facebook a lot less seriously.
1. Ninety percent of Facebook users barely think twice when they post updates or make responses. The other ten percent who do are anal. These are the ones who make sure to cross every t and dot every i. I’m guilty, obviously.
2. People are joking, although they don’t sound as if they are. The written word is devoid of tonal expression, it comes across rude and abrupt when the author is merely in a hurry and doesn’t use full-stops. Sarcasm is lost on the harried Facebook reader who skims rather than studies each bit of news, links, videos, wall messages.
3. If 167 people write Happy Birthday on your wall, are you obliged to respond to every single one of them? Or will an umbrella word of thanks do the job adequately?
4. If you rant or sound a little under the weather in your post, does it mean people don’t care if they don’t respond? What about those who do? How much of what is said in the virtual world is authentic and of equivalent value to what is said or even texted in the real world?
5. The markup rate is at least 50 per cent. Don’t believe everything you read. Withhold your judgment, retain your sense of humour, and most important, get a life.
Did I miss anything? Thought? Opinions? Would love to hear it!