Thursday, June 3, 2010

Social media: Rules, Rumors and Romances.

Social media never, ever gets dull.

It's amazing, the capabilities of it. I've written before about its capabilities for news a few times already. I've already addressed its weaknesses. But I've never really talked about it as a social tool.
second non-newspaper post of the blog! WHOO!

Again--the capabilities are amazing. We make friends via social media. We hurt people via social media.

There's decorum, rules to be followed. There are so many examples I could look at in college life. But I'd like to focus on romantic life, because let's face it, people are freakin' nosy about relationships, and everyone wants to read about it.
  • Boy and girl date. It goes on Facebook. Boy and girl break up. It goes on Facebook. Girl has at least 4 comments, 3 messages, and 10 texts before the next day asking if she's okay or wants to talk. Many of these are from people she's met about twice, or who she has never even spoken to about anything non-work related.
  • Boy meets girl. Boy and girl kiss that same night. Girl comes home, gets either very excited because he adds her as a friend, or gets very upset because he never does. The latter says to girl: "I don't want to talk to you again, so I'm not even going to bother." Girl never sends the request. That's the boy's job. Like asking someone out for the first time.
  • Girl and boy Facebook chat frequently. Girl has a question for boy about an event they will both attend, but she is not near a computer. Girl has to agonize over whether or not to call him. This is a new medium. Is it weird to call him? Would a text message be better? Is that too friendly for the boy and girl? Are they on that level?
  • Girl and boy talk a lot. Boy and girl flirt a lot. They see each other a couple of times, never anything serious. Girl changes her privacy settings. He can't see her pictures anymore. Says to boy: I don't even want you thinking about me.
It could go on and on. There are rules. There are things you do. And things you don't do. There are very predictable responses and very readable signals.

I've personally experienced the first one. As if ending a long relationship wasn't enough on your emotions. You have to deal with people you barely know asking overly personal questions, most of which I just ignored. But then that one person who saw it on her news feed texted you asking if you want to talk about it--and you told her no--goes and tells the whole office, and then you're the subject of all kinds of "you okay?" headnods. And I've seen all the others by good friends. Social media is a separate language.

And while I believe in social media, it's just getting more and more hurtful.

Formspring. Ohh, Formspring. Subject to so much controversy, it is.

I've had one for a while but rarely use it. People used to ask me questions. Some of which were overly personal but whatever, I dealt with it. It's all the rage in high schools. I just have it linked to my Facebook page. The hate questions though--I haven't experienced those until this week.

It's hard to see what people really think of you sometimes. Even if you already know that you're the subject of gossip, it's hard to have it reinforced.

I expected some questions I didn't want to answer. I even expected some hate. What I was not expecting, however, was all the hate I got about my hair.
Fun samples:
  • "Dying your hair doesn't make you interesting, just as going to UNC-CH doesn't make you intelligent."
  • "I suppose it's mildly clever, trying to hide an eating disorder with that horrifying color."
  • "Bleach blonde is neither unique nor different (redundant, by the way); it's potentially the most overused, underwhelming, vomit-inducing excuse for decency that nearly every delusional, ignorant monstrosity uses in the pitiful attempt to become accepted and deemed beautiful."
All of this anonymous, of course. I asked for this when I set it up. I just couldn't figure it out: why my hair?

I showed one of my roommates. She suggested it was an ex-boyfriend. I thought it might have been a girl I work with. Or it could have been someone indirectly involved with an untrue rumor I've had the misfortune of learning is floating around about me.

But I'll never know. All I know is, somebody really hates me. And I would never know how much if I hadn't created a Formspring.

The story never changes. Girl kills herself because of Myspace harassment. Girl kills herself when someone talks to her mean on Facebook. Now, Formspring is the new excuse to go kill yourself.

It's a changing world that's driving us further apart in a lot of ways. But driving us together in others.

We can get our news sent to our phones. We can get our friends Tweets sent to our phones so that we never even have to talk to them. We can catch up with our friends by looking through their pictures and they never even have to know.

There's a false sense of closeness there, it seems like. but who says that's false?

Sometimes my world feels so small. Sometimes it feels so big I drown in it. Social media has the power to personalize everything, but completely overwhelm you at the same time.

ps: complete tangent: I've always taken it as a complement when someone tell me I look like I have an eating disorder. Is that a bad thing?

figured out who the formspringer was. And I WON. I feel like I had such a victory. THIS is why I stay on Web sites like this.

Now that I've said who she is, she is no longer harassing me. Because she feels so embarrassed, probably. haha.

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