G-mail, Yahoo, AOL, Myspace, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, (breathe) Snapchat, Periscope, Pinterest, Youtube, Vine, Whats app, Tinder, Google plus, and virtual games are just some of the many forms of social networking in which people all over the world use and sometimes heavily rely on. I myself am trying to keep up with all the forms of social media that are out there. I had Facebook, Instagram, and two Gmail accounts (personal and school). Now that I am in Intro to Writing Arts Module 1, I have Facebook, Instagram, two Gmail accounts, Tumblr, Twitter, and WordPress. Quite honestly this is all so overwhelming for me. Where do people even find the time to juggle all of these things? But as I took a stroll down Mullica Hill and went to the library I noticed something. There were people walking with their cell phones in hand, students in the library were on their phones and on their computers most likely on a social media site instead of do their school work, and in the computer lab 3 boys sat in front of Macbook desktops, one on Facebook (clearly opened), and the other two were playing virtual space video games clicking away at the arrow keys wearing over-ear headphones.
Just before writing this I was checking my Facebook account because it is where I sent the invitation to my best friend’s going away party (she’s leaving to New Zealand for six months). I keep checking to see who R.S.V.P.’d, whose bringing drinks, whose bringing appetizers, whose bringing plates, and so forth. So Facebook could be pretty convenient because I don’t have the phone numbers of the people I invited online. Before this event I only used Facebook once in a blue to see how people I don’t keep in contact with are doing. Instagram is the micro-blog I am most fascinated with. I just love to post pictures, mostly “selfies” (please don’t judge me) and videos about what goes on in my life. I had a friend of mine tell me, “Mariela is probably the only non-celebrity I follow on Instagram because it’s the only way I’ll know about her life.”
How much is too much? Often the very thing that creates a problem is also a necessity for life. There are people whose jobs require for them to be on their phones and laptops for hours at a time. But where is the line drawn? Turkle mentions a man named Pete. This man lives a double life. He is an unhappily married man with two children who has a happily virtual marriage with someone who he has NEVER met. This Pete guy, shares how he spends time with his children. One of the ways he spends quality time with his children is by taking the children to play in the park while he watches from a bench. Only he actually doesn’t watch them because his eyes are glued to his phone and his attention is on the virtual wife he has online. “They could be with you, but they were always somewhere else (page 152).” There is need for serious marital intervention. Also, what type of job does he have that allows him to get so much time with his virtual wife? I don’t recall anything being said on his wife knowing about his ‘double’ marriage. My husband wouldn’t even be allowed to play any virtual games where he would have another wife other than myself, but I’ll deal with that when my time comes.
The thought of Pete’s wife and children is heart breaking. I could imagine his children notice that although he is physically with them, he is absent. This is actually a common ‘phenomenon’. My family and I had a “Christmas family reunion” at my cousin’s house. Everyone showed up, took a seat either on the couch, stairs, kitchen chairs, or stood against the wall. Old folks were having conversations (old as in seniors) and everyone else was taking pictures and posting them up on Facebook or Instagram. What happens after is what made the family reunion not so… fun. They were all consumed by their social networks checking how many likes they got, comments, and side tracked by other people’s pictures, meal of the day or #wcw (woman crush Wednesday).
Um… hello. Isn’t this a family reunion? The only reunion I saw was us getting together for a group picture. Sad, isn’t it? Next family reunion there will be a special basket for all the phones to go in until they leave to go home (that’s actually not a bad idea).
My very first experience with social media was back in the day when aol chat (America Online) was the ‘stuff’ back then. My cousin made my first username. Okay, are you ready? DizBanginMami1. Yes folks, that is the username that I have not allowed out of the box of top secrets until now. Lawd, what was I thinking? I cringe whenever I think about it. We all have our wall of shame. This was during the time of dial-up connection. I was ALWAYS online in those days, meaning my house rarely got incoming calls. I always got in trouble for this. I met my first boyfriend on aol, he was a friend of my cousin’s. We would “chat” for hours and then came the day where I had to meet him face to face. I was a nervous wreck. Now that I think about it, I got so comfortable with the online guy I met that I was scared to meet the REAL guy. Our conversations weren’t as good as the one’s we had online but we still dated…awkward situation really. That was the first and last time I dated someone I met online. Then came the sidekicks, which was one of the phones that came out with a full miniature keyboard and a big flipping screen. Then sometime afterwards came MySpace. Everyone personalized their MySpace pages according to their personality, or how they’d like to come across to people. You could even put a song to play on your page.
The username (DizBanginMami1), the customized pages, the songs used to play on the sites, the photos we choose to post as our profile pictures, its all just to make people view you the way you want them to see you. “Connectivity offers new possibilities for experimenting with identity, and particularly in adolescence, the sense of free space (page 152). I’ve read that people take on online characters they wish they were, sometimes to meet people who wouldn’t have even given them the time of day otherwise (excuse my rambling). “When part of your life is lived in virtual places, it can be second life, a computer game, a social networking site, a relationship (page 153).” I mean take the show “Catfish” for example. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a show about people who have been “chatting” for months and even years with someone they met online. The host of the show proposes to get those to people to meet face to face. These are people who have FALLEN IN LOVE with complete strangers. Sounds like our friend Pete. Now, I have watched a few of these episodes. While some of the people they were talking to online matched the photos and life styles of what they portrayed online, most of these people faked it. They used other people’s pictures, lied about who they really were, and didn’t feel the same way about their online partner.
“People love their new technology and have made parents and children feel more secure… (page 152). I can’t help and think about the dangers people can put themselves into creating online “relationships”. I saw a viral video online about young girls who were pranked by their parents in the worst way. These girls met a “teenaged” boy on Facebook. They either spoke to him through messenger or gave up their number to text him. The “teenaged” boy then proposed to meet up with them. One of the girls was told that he was going to show up in his brother’s van. She walks up to the van and asked where the boy was, she doesn’t see him but because the driver said he was in the back she hopped in anyway. That’s when she got the surprise of her life. Her masked parents pretended to be kidnapping her until they revealed themselves to her. I imagine laptops and sell phones were confiscated. Kids and teens spend a LOT of time on their devices and often times unsupervised.
I got my first cellphone when I was in 8th grade and within a few months it was taken away from me because I raised the bill up a pretty number all because I went over my minutes talking on the phone. When I went off to high school my sister was still at our middle school in 8th grade the next town over. My father still refused to get us cell phones so he opted for getting us ‘walkie-talkies’. Yes, Yellow and black ‘walkie-talkies’. “Bleep! Hey, meet me at Joselito’s store to take the bus home!” Gosh, it was so embarrassing. I hated taking out that thing in front of my classmates. Thank God, that time of my life is over and I have a beautiful iPhone 5S (Not the 6 people, I just finished paying this one off). I can check my e-mails, call or Facetime (glittering sounds) my parents and friends, go online and research, and stay up to date with other things that are going on. Technology is a WONDERFUL thing especially when it’s all at our finger- tips, but there needs to be a limit, a drawn line, maybe even some dignity. I am still going to check my Instagram and e-mail in the morning after just opening my eyes, I am still going to post “selfies” on instagram, and I am still going to keep up with old friends through Facebook. But, there is a time, place, and conduct for everything. I will be sure to keep those in check.