Anya Batrakov Journal Contributor
I can’t go to a restaurant anymore without the person I’m with checking their Facebook on their smartphone. I notice more people can’t survive without this seemingly essential need like they can’t survive without food or water, and I feel the need to question it. My own addiction to Facebook sometimes spirals out of control, as I am currently checking it right now as I write this.
There have been interesting studies done in the past few years, like one that compares our pleasure-seeking from Facebook to the pleasure we seek from slot machines, and other studies that explain that it just fills needs for entertainment and “interpersonal communication.” One has to agree with all this, but is it right to have such a need for self-gratification through a smartphone app? And if you don’t think you are getting so much self-gratification through Facebook, you are lying to yourself.
A person gets excited when they express themselves in a way that reaches the world, or at least their network of friends, and when they get approval for whatever they’ve said. The fact that this approval is public is what really makes it all worth it. I came across a photo once that was captioned, “I wish my worth as a person didn’t depend on how many Likes I get on Facebook.” This struck a chord with me, as I know the secret, mildly pathetic disappointment I feel when no one ‘Likes’ something I put out there.
This isn’t even the worst part, because after all, we are only human. The worst part is people replacing Facebook with actual social interaction.
I went to Governor’s Ball music festival a few months ago, and was shocked (or not) at the amount of people absorbed in uploading videos, photos, or just checking in, right in the middle of a show. Seeing a good band live is a wonderful life experience – not just because of the music but because you connect with everyone else there through the music. But these people were missing out on that in favor of online interaction.
There are some people out there that share more about themselves on social-networking sites than they do with friends or acquaintances. I see some very personal details on social networks and I see posts where I’m appalled by the sheer mundanity of what they’re saying. What do I care if you’ve just finished dinner and are sitting down to watch True Blood? But the point is, as one study from Harvard expressed, people get a sense of pleasure simply by disclosing themselves. It is the same sense of pleasure we get from food, sex, and acquiring money.
In this day and age, we feel more of a need to be in constant contact with people because we have the means to do so. This isn’t how some of us grew up, but it is what most of us have grown accustomed to. Anyone that tries to stop social networking usually comes back within a few days, and that’s okay: we are people living in the year 2012. Express yourself all you want. It doesn’t mean I have to ‘Like’ it.