Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When Social Networking becomes Social Narcissim

On Sunday I made a deal with a friend: We are both giving up Facebook for the week. So, since Sunday I have not seen the familiar blue background and nor have I been reading up and keeping up on the lives of about 300 friends. I have been coming home, checking my e-mail and watching tv or doing homework.

After just three days I find myself struggling. I'm not struggling with not knowing what's going on in other people's lives. I'm not struggling not being able to comment on the mundane in the world. I don't miss clicking the "like" button. However there is one thing I really do miss: Updating others on my status.

I use my status update both as a way to try to be creative and also a way to gather comments from friends - usually in a jealous way. Tuesday it was 70 degrees and so I bought a chocolate shake. As I was sucking it, I was really tempted to log onto Facebook and announce it. Monday night when we were moving the "new" fridge into the house, both Dave and I missed a step. He had the whole fridge fall on his leg, while I only had a corner of it fall on my knee (which still hurts today).

In addition to get sympathy or create jealousy, I use it as a way to create quick creative posts. A few weeks ago, it was "Trap set, cage built, now all I need is a purple person and I'll be able to catch my very own one eyed one horned flying purple people eater." Another week it was "Three steps to becoming a hero: 1. Live in the west. 2. Work in the east. 3. Drive off into the sunset every day. Bonus if you can tilt your hat to all of the women and children." After a week of lacking sleep and early mornings I wrote that I was "still a little punchy and feeling like taking over a small country or an ant hill."

Other days, I use my status as a way to make declarative statements. "Sean knows it is going to be a good day when it starts with Oingo Boingo." "Sean feels happy and safe here [in Vallejo]. "The radio Gods have been nice to Sean giving him Queen three times this week."

However, all of these status updates are just the beginning. What I really miss is the response. There is something cool about logging into Facebook and seeing that 4 people liked your status and 3-4 people commented on your status. It helps reinforce a personal feeling that at times - I'm awesome. No where else in life do you get that (I used to get a lot of that with the Photo A Day blog, but that died off over time which helped lead to my boredom with that project). No where else does it happen regularily that you type something that is less than 200 characters or you publish a picture or you post a link - that people decide they like it and think is cool. And that is sadly what I have been missing most this week. I got a little bit of praise this week (My friend Jill keeps telling me what a hard worker I am because of the amount of work I do at home after I get home from work) - but one voice isn't enough. Social Networking has turned me into a social narcisist and a whore for praise.


  1. It just goes to show we are too comfortable doing all these things electronically and we are NOT taking the time to do them in person. Sad, sad day...but Sean you are partially a product of the times. If you wish to change that and get more in person praise be sure to give it to others regularly. This is a lesson we should all consider.

  2. Well to be fair FB does make it possible for you to connect much more quickly to many more people. In order to do these things in person as Nina suggests you would need a 48 hour day. (And if you find a way to get one, I want one too!)

    I do agree with you though. My comments are way down on my blog (I'm coming out of a not-feeling-good blogging slump) and from time to time I have to remind myself that the reason I blog is that is is a history of my life, not to get comments.

    BTW--I love the hero one. :)