I created my Facebook account back in 2009. This year I thought about deleting it alltogether quite often. Why you might ask? I miss the time before social media. It is certainly not just nostalgia knocking on the door. I am sure that social media does not have enough benefits to actually justify its existence. While there are tons of research which already show the bad influence of social media on our everyday life (e.g. this article in which Facebook admits just that) it might even harm the way we use the internet in general, especially when you consider how much bitterness and hate is spread on Twitter and Facebook, even by government officials.
Before Facebook took over the way we communicate with others, there were fewer options to interact online. But were they? You could go to forums, be part of communities, or create your own website or blog if you wanted to share your thoughts with others. Creating a website/blog is different to maintaining your social media profile: You had to design it, create sidebars, add widgets, html embedded pictures, links or music players, fill it with content. You had to make it yours. Your space in a global web. You had to grow mentally to improve your blogposts, create thoughtful content. People did not care about how you look, they cared about what you had to say. And after Facebook and Twitter took off, a lot of this disappeared entirely.
I barely know people in real life that (still) have their own website or blog. Most of my friends do not know how to use HTML, some of them do not care about creating and seem to be happy with the status quo. Even MySpace, one of the first (big players of) social media networks used to give you the freedom to express yourself with customising your profile. Facebook doesn’t let you. If you write blog-like articles on there, people will probably ignore it or it will just drown in the enormous flood of “funny” “memes” which basically try to make you mark your friends in the comment section to generate more reach and ad revenue. Groups are a better way to exchange thoughts, but you do not to get to decide when new posts show up. Facebook does. And it prefers to show you advertisement partners instead of meaningful conversation or thoughts from your friends.
We used to exchange thoughts on the internet. Nowadays we exchange ads.
Thumbnail: Brantley Davidson – Social Media Icons (CC BY 2.0)