With every word I have posted on the internet I have always wondered two things: Who is reading it? How it will affect me (or them) later? These questions need to be answered, even if the author does not plan on committing any crimes in which the text might incriminate them more. When one creates a new account on the internet, they write part of their life over to an unknown force with an unknown binding contract of Terms and Conditions no one ever bothers to read. It is for this reason I have deleted several accounts that, for all intents and purposes, have become rather inactive. Social networking is merely a device–a tool people use to try and satisfy their insatiable hunger to be more than they are. We upload photos of ourselves that are more appealing than we are on a daily basis–college students and their showering habits are not something to be admired during the week–and we post status messages that are often cryptic or quote pieces of literature of which we have never felt the binding in hopes of appearing more insightful.
And I do mean all of us.
People often say they do not do it for the popularity or vanity of these websites and what they have wrought unto our social lives. However, if we did not care, we would not have profiles or care to join the “next big social experience.” The internet is not just a resourceful tool for research–no matter how flash-y or primitive (i.e. Bing vs. Google), but it is a way to define ourselves without all of the work of actually evolving into real people. Our phones and our computers are the extensions of our arms the hands lost the evolution game against. Darwin never did take into account the efficiency of technology greater than the mere discovery of fire. Life is not about recording every moment. It is about enjoying every moment–good or bad–but especially good, and remembering out there, somewhere, is someone having just as good of a time. They have made all of the same jokes and wear the same clothes and live in a town or city resembling the one we say we hate, or sometimes love, depending on how lucky we are. We sometimes forget these rather obvious facts and record our lives–even the uninteresting things about them–as if someone is out there looking to document it all. People were able to enjoy life way before there were ways to prove it to the rest of the world.
I am taking extra care to include myself in this, simply because I know I have been just as guilty of it in the past, and still am at times. I wonder, “What if this person read this? What would they think?” I should not be so hung up on who is reading my status messages that sometimes mean little-to-nothing about who I am or my actual life. We let our profiles shape us into these designs of what simple profiles, with uniform layouts and often times uniform information, can represent about human identity rather than grow from the real experiences of day-to-day life and socializing outside of chatting on each other’s “walls” and “Tweeting” the latest gossip. I will admit, I have been one to preach safe-guarding myself on the internet, but my few worries since I have been logged on have passed and I find the minutes I spend on the internet just “surfing” to be enjoyable. I do not mean to ramble on end about the mindless chatter that fills my every feed to which I have subscribed, but I would hope to make the point that everyone can slip up at times. And I was a bit careless. While my MySpace has since been deleted, I refuse to sign into Dailybooth, Tumblr, Xanga or even my old AOL email address; Facebook and Twitter are the only two proclaimed “social networks” I am plugged into at this time, and they will forever be as safely monitored by myself and private as I can make them.
The stalker never ceases, and the internet has only increased the yellow and green stalkers in us all. When was the last time you went to someone’s page of whom you were not “friends” with (because reality has no place in a world run by a website dedicated to specializing in the officiating of friendships and relationships) just so you could look at their pictures and hopefully see something they have posted recently? How many “friends” do you have on Facebook? How many people do you “follow” on Twitter? Do you really care about every word they write or are you just looking for something to catch your eye?
It is possible, ladies and gentlemen, to spend one’s time more efficiently outside of the barricades of a bedroom. Even looking out a real window with an actual sunset can be more enticing and relaxing than winding down next to a monitor which, in ten years, will only be benefiting your optometrists’ incomes. This is not my good-bye letter to the internet. This is not me saying the internet is a complete waste of time. Blogging is still my outlet and personal way of getting some form of my writing “out there,” to some degree; and clearly, I care about keeping my friends entertained and up-to-date otherwise no one would be able to find me right now on Twitter or Facebook. But I am infuriated by the way it has shaped our minds. I know several people who walk around with impulses to “Tweet” or update status messages every time some mediocre and usually energy drink-induced thought crosses their minds. Nowadays, I have learned to overcome those addictive urges and usually just use my Twitter for entertainment and to say things I cannot typically yell at people for fear of getting hit by the girl in line in front of me who is about 100-pounds heavier and can count to ten after taking off her shoes. But the need is still there, to say something about myself. It is why I had to let go of my narcissism–or what little bit I felt I deserved to express–and stop updating my Dailybooth or keep a regular shit-blog in Xanga or even sit on my bed, ignoring the burn marks on my legs from my laptop’s fan, and wait for new things to stream on Tumblr so I could get my two seconds of entertainment at a periodical five-minute rate every night. However, despite my wildest attempts to lessen my need for web-additives, I still manage to stay signed on long enough to have an unwanted and unneeded friend request meet me as I peeked at Facebook via my iPhone (yes, you got me too, Steve Jobs).
The request, since anonymity is what he brings being I have no recollection of the man, though I have his name, came from a person who, through his daughter’s MySpace a few years back, tried to talk to me, and proposed I “not tell [my] father about it.” Obviously, being that I was much younger and more liable to freak out over instances such as these, I called my father and told him who it was. He said he knew the man. After a bit of calming me down, he told me to inform him if the contact continues. It was years ago, so what I actually can recollect of the ten minutes of horror is there was no further communication, just he was face-less (but I knew what his daughter looked like by the end of it, thanks to her profile picture popping up with every new message), and he knew my mother–as if this fact would make me want to talk to him more. It was, for lack of a better term, creepy. Almost three years later, I come to find this same man has hooked himself into the life-logging world of Facebook and has again found me. I saw the request first and obviously denied. Anyone who has been on the website long enough can attest strange requests often come in numbers, and I assumed this was just another. However, when I checked my messages, the same person messaged me.
The fact that this ignorant human contacted me a second time shows his inability to not only gather but use common sense. He started the message with, “Hey Jen.” which only infuriated me more. Why someone with whom I do not speak would feel comfortable enough to shorten my name even to a common nickname of “Jennifer” is beyond my ability to even grasp the little I can of this person. But I am officially not a fan of his distant, but still definitive, persistence, nor am I happy he bothered to search me at all. However, if this dimensionless and inescapable world of online connection has benefited us at all, it is these websites make one significantly efficient dream a reality: the ability to delete and block people out of our lives.
I have done just that.
For right now, this person is out of my life as much as I can make him disappear. Any further contact is to be recorded and reported. I refuse to give this person the knowledge he has wasted any of my time and/or energy–you decide. However, I am going to be even more particular about what I say in light of his need to find me again on the internet. I may un-protect my Tweets, eventually, after I find out what I have said, and if I have said too much.
The truly entertaining piece of information I hope my audience takes from all of this rambling is the irony of tonight’s events: I just left the theatre after seeing “The Social Network.”