Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Anti Social

Social Media

I've been into Twitter for several years now, and up until recently I tended to use it in what turned out to be a very particular way. I would use it for news/updates as well as following up on people whose views I considered important. And I was happy; I thought the level of discussion is pretty good considering the character limit. Or, in other words, it served my needs.
More recently, though, my usage pattern changed. As things go, this was yet again because of the Mass Effect game I love so much: instead of following up on people whose views I considered important, I started following people just because they are related in one way or another to the Mass Effect game. This included community managers, people in the gaming industry, and also voice actors. Just like that god dude in that famous creation fable, I saw things were good and I expanded my followingship: I started following actors from Chuck. I even followed singers and other performers.
As can be expected, the level of discussion is at an order of magnitude lower than what I was previously used to. Instead of reading Richard Dawkins philosophize, I got to witness the latest pair of shoes modeled by the woman who gave her likeness to a video game character. With time I noticed I am actually enjoying this; over time, I actually got to know some of these celebrities to a level unimaginable in the pre social media age. I am under no illusions this image is a true representation of their real character; the point is it does not matter: it is still a billion times more than fans of, say, Led Zeppelin were able to access just a few decades ago.
The main problem (other than the corruption of my brain with, let's face it, crap) is the way Twitter quickly turns into some twisted form of Facebook. With the food comes the appetite and the need to know what's going on with this or that celebrity's latest adventure; what is the latest joke they've said, or where are they having dinner today? It sounds pathetic, I know, but it's addictive. It's addictive because us humans are social creatures by nature.

By far the worst aspect of this matter is to do with the way certain people take their addiction into disturbing realms. I will give you a few examples.
First we have Zachary Levi, the star of Chuck, who twitted the following:
Twitter take the wheel.
At the moment of me writing this, this tweet has earned 4 replies, 146 retweets and 146 favorites. What the hell is going on with people?
Then we have Lana Del Rey, the singer whose album Born to Die is currently starring at the top of my personal music list. She, or probably a PR person working on her behalf, tweeted a composite photo of Del Rey with Marilyn Monroe. The first reply to that tweet was:
What the hell is going on here? I can figure this out in one of two ways. Either the person replying knows Del Rey on a personal basis to a level where the two are comfortable calling each other "bitch", in which case they should still be aware of their correspondence being publicly recorded for prosperity. Or, the more worrying option, we have a rather scary fan on our hands here.
My last example comes from Yvonne Strahovski, star of both Mass Effect and Chuck. Strahovski put a fairly innocent photo of hers on Instagram, which is fine; like all of us she has the need to socialize, and in her profession she also has the need to create some PR. But one reply caught my eye, and not for its bad grammar alone:
Your so gorgeous, I dream I randomly run into you one day. Would never be so lucky lol.
I don't know about you, but I find this rather disturbing. Or, to put it another way, I would not like to receive such messages myself; this is the type of thing that, lol at the end or not, would make me worry for my personal safety.

At this stage I can only conclude that social media, while providing us with great tools to know the world through, is also a bit of a double edged sword. It's a powerful tool, but it also exposes some of the lesser sides of humanity. My lesson? Tread carefully. And by the goddess, remember that everything you put up there is in the public domain, to be used against you one fine day.

Image by AslanMedia, Creative Commons license 

9/1/13 update:
I'm pretty sure she doesn't read my blog, and I'm also sure she didn't read this post prior to its publication, but today Strahovski tweeted a link to Del Rey music video.
Coincidence? Obviously. But a sign of good taste in music, too.
By the way, thus far this particular tweet received 3 replies, 83 retweets and 154 favorites.

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