When asked to consider the effects of media and media anxieties, the typical Facebook socialite will tell you that he/she has X number of friends and that Facebook shouldn’t be considered as a factor to increased anti-social behavioral patterns.
But when asked how many of those friends they know out of the confines of a media platform, they will shrivel up back into their smartphone and into their keyboard warrior alter ego and post a passive aggressive rant for all their “friends” to see.
Its probably happened to you too. You’ve messaged a friend for a coffee and a catch up and you have exchanged some obligatory small talk. But before long, you’ll find one, if not both of you, craning your neck down to align your optical receptors with the pale glow of your phone. It’s become a crutch.
Facebook is a social media platform. The fear of Facebook however is, that people are becoming less social outside of the blue and white utopia, where you can ignore people, block them and hide statuses and photos from family members. In the context of the Facebook, these are features of the platform. But in the real world where you can’t delete things you’ve said or think of a comeback for five minutes in a flame-war, these features become personality flaws.
Stephen who posts his unpopular opinions on Facebook to get a shit fight rolling in the comment box; can’t protect himself in real life with a MacBook, when he’s faced with a confrontation.
Studies into the effects of Facebook have revealed some concerning information about the impact it can have on peoples self-esteem. The study discovered a link between a persons self-esteem and the amount of time the spend managing their online persona and how they cultivated their image. People with lower self-esteem were more likely to check posts and photos about them, removing anything that conflicts with the image they want to display. The ones with higher self-esteem post photos and information that boost their own image. If only Narcissus could see his own Facebook page.
Regardless which way you swing when you look at your display picture, people have developed an inward obsession about personal online image. But can Facebook be blamed for this?
The fact is that Facebook has a massive influence in our lives. Facebook brands itself as a networking and communications tool, and certainly, it can be used as one. But as social media platforms and media channels have shown us, the people using the medium, are the ones who generate the media anxieties, not the medium.
If no one used Facebook, would there still be this underlying desire for personal glorification? Would there be the profile picture anxieties? Would we be better at socialising? Would people still embody the socially awkward penguin meme?
Facebook has made the world smaller. People can be somewhat omnipresent with 4G and 500 people in their newsfeed. It could be easy to hail Facebook as an Overlord. It’s knowledge of our past, cataloged in infinite servers, tailored advertising and facial recognition. But the fact is that Facebook has these effects on us because we use it.