I found it very eye opening the way in which Erich Merkle and Rhonda Richardson portrayed such a familiar practice in their article. One word that stuck out to me tremendously was the word “exploit.” We do exploit these technologies to use them for things we could do for ourselves by interacting with real humans face-to-face. That’s not to say there are no benefits to social media and other related websites: social media is a great way to connect people across different locations. for example, I have met hundreds of my peers and possible future colleagues at choir conferences over the years, and I have all of them as Facebook friends. I see most of them at least once a year, and for those who are already in the teaching field, it is a good way for me to get my foot in the door and network. On the contrary, social media is so toxic because of its general nature and the way in which we exploit it. The practice of social media makes us think we know a person better than we actually do. Think about it: what was your first Facebook profile picture? Your current Facebook profile picture? When you post a status, does someone “like” it who wouldn’t start a conversation with you on that topic face to face? Do you find yourself “creeping” on a friend you just met in person, seeing what their life background is like, what their hobbies and friends and interests are? We know from experience that all of this information is found in their Facebook profile-and so much more. Facebook brings a new meaning to the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” If humans are the “books,” Facebook is challenging us by providing the sparknotes instead of giving us the opportunity to enjoy the novel. (And I’m sure many of us can agree to survive English class in high school, sparknotes were a pretty decent option, but nothing replaces the feeling you get after you finish a book you are truly interested in reading.) Furthermore, as overdramatized as it may seem in the video below, it is reflecive of our practices: when someone blocks us on Facebook we take it as personally as if they decided not to talk to us in real life anymore. Facebook is different from real life, and it is unfortunately becoming hard to distinguish the two as technology is becoming omnipotent in our everyday lives.
Speaking in terms of the Merkle/Richardson article, I have a hard time believing that a relation can work solely based on technological aesthetics. I personally have a hard time figuring out what I want in general so dating as a concept is hard enough for me to grasp in the first place. Unfortunately so, in liking someone in the twenty-first century I feel obligated to keep up with all outlets of their social media, all outlets of communication and spend quality time in building a relationship face-to-face, it’s all so overwhelming. I have labeled myself (and even have begun telling boys that I meet recently) that I am a “bad texter” just to warn them that if I don’t text them back right away, it doesn’t always mean I’m not interested right off the bat-I’m probably just busy. Texting conversations, or even those through Facebook to fit a CMR situation, are very trite and I try to limit them to share ideas or have long-distance communication (like with friends and family from home). My key word, however, is “try”: I know that as it is customary of the times that when I initially like a boy, I should give him the common courtesy to text him back and settle for a texting conversation, much to my chagrin. The beginning stages of two people being interested in each other are the most nerve-wracking and exciting, but the rawness of these experiences are definitely subdued by the facilitation of technology and CMRs. We will probably never experience the jitters our parents felt when calling the house phone of their crush and asking their crush’s parents to talk to them again in this century. People rarely pick each other up for dates anymore, they decide to meet at a mutual place and exchange texts saying “are you here?” Despite my admittance that I am not very good at dating, I like to think I have figured out the game enough to say that technology has made the practice of dating less authentic. It is always best to remember to value the genuine, tangible human experience more than something that was posted on an online profile.
Just to share a few final thoughts: I will admit that I am a hypocrite. I wish I could practice more of what I preach, but I am guilty of using my Twitter and tumblr accounts to share my thoughts and seek others’ approval to feel validation, and I post pictures on Instagram and Facebook to share with the world what I’m doing in my life. Sure, my family likes getting updated from these pictures, but I would rather tell them about my experiences in person. Plus, while I was watching the short film “Noah”, I had to put it on full screen to resist doing exactly what the film’s main character was doing-facilitating my short attention span by flipping from tab to tab, conversation to conversation, one thought catalog article to another buzzfeed quiz to another NCAA bracket group. (And honestly, I paused the movie in the middle so that I could write this thought down; as I realized how hard it was for me to focus on one thing, I became pretty appalled with myself.) My biggest fear is becoming a slave to technology to the point that it does interfere with a possible romantic situation. This shouldn’t be a concern, but in this day and age it is always an important factor to consider.