I saw something about a study that showed heavy Facebook users were more likely to feel unhappy with their own life/unfulfilled/envious, and it got me to thinking.
I used to say that TV, especially once there were more than 5 channels to choose from, was the beginning of the end. I once read that “with television, people spend more time watching other — mostly fictional — people live, instead of living themselves”. As much as I have it on myself, I try not to sit and watch unless it’s a movie I haven’t seen. (Off topic sort of, but just yesterday I heard a psychologist say, “children have to know mommy and daddy need their time and they should just watch TV or something” — how automatic and horrendous.)
It’s what a lot of people do with Facebook, and to less extent maybe Twitter and blogs. The latter two might play into the phenomenom I see as unique to the Web media, of needing an audience to quench the aforementioned envy. Most people have probably already heard of Facebook addiction and the like, but I think there’s something more subtle at work, too.
Facebook creates the perfect storm for wasting time observing and comparing. I know many of the people, thus am under similar constraints of success — same school, same profession, same geo, etc — but of course there’s going to be people posting stuff that makes my life look less glamorous. (And like chat rooms, is any of it pumped up?)
So we read this and become envious, we spend more time reading it and we do less for ourselves, so we achieve less, etc.
In my opinion, the reality show genre is finely tuned to this. When we watch actors, although part of us is in the fantasy of the script/plot, we don’t expect ourselves to be “them” – this is a movie, they are actors. But when the participants become everyman who can wait in line to audition without previous qualification, without having earned it… Show participants aren’t actors, so the audience identifies much more (“I could/should…”), but the odds are still hugely against them just because of numbers, so we become more immersed in an observer, wannabe role.
I don’t know what to make of it, but I’m just sayin. How come I have to leave messages on cell phones so much? How come people want to use texts, where they don’t *have* to respond? Why do people now want to broadcast on their “wall” and expect the world to know, instead of communicating directly with the individuals who need to know? Seems like a time saver, huh? Well now I also have to monitor the daily flow from all the people who broadcast to me to pick out what might be information. I’m worse off.
So I might save time when planning my own event because I can just “post” it. BUT I have to check everyone’s posts to see what I might be interested in. Instead doesn’t it save everyone time when each of us spends more communicating, so that everyone doesn’t have to listen in and decide for themselves whether it’s relevant to them? Is there an ego factor at work here? Where we want to imagine the world wants to listen to our thoughts and plans?
Do we need an audience because everyone else is famous, because we have such an immediate media, and round and round it goes