Once I’m on the internet, I (shamefully) conform to a usual routine whereby I check my Facebook and Twitter accounts before I’ve even read the news on the BBC website, looked at the hea
Once I’m on the internet, I (shamefully) conform to a usual routine whereby I check my Facebook and Twitter accounts before I’ve even read the news on the BBC website, looked at the headlines on The Economist or even checked my emails. In fact, sometimes I forget to check my personal emails altogether because quite frankly I know that my unread messages will consist of an email from a clothing company informing me of their latest offer and another telling me someone has ‘followed’ me on Twitter.
There’s no denying it, social media such as Facebook and Twitter have taken over the way we communicate. Like many people, I loathe the way such mediums of communication are publicised and impersonalised, and how the society around me (with myself included) has become hooked. For instance and I’m sure you can all relate to this; I have friends who obsess over what photo will be their latest profile picture, taking 10 photos of the same shot just to find the perfect one. (It never is perfect).
Yet I continue to use Facebook and Twitter to communicate. I hear you all asking the age-old question, ‘why?’ Well simply put, it’s easy and convenient. It seems to be a lot easier to find someone’s profile and to write on their wall than it is to firstly ask someone for their email address before even writing the email. Also, if you want someone’s email address you’re bound to use Facebook to ask them for it so you might as well just type the message there! Emails don’t let us connect to people in the intimate way that Facebook does either; with email we can’t see how drunk our friends were on Saturday night or find out what old school friends, who we never really liked, are doing now. Our society’s obsession with every single detail about other people’s lives, no matter how dull, is successfully fulfilled by the use of Facebook and other social media sites.
Earlier this month, I did in fact delete my Facebook account for a while but before I knew it, my account was activated again. This wasn’t because I enjoy wasting my precious time reading the same old tedious status updates from dull acquaintances from a distant past, but because I felt disconnected from the world around me. Nobody was going to email me to see how I was like they would with Facebook or Twitter. I no longer understood what was going on when friends would talk about relationships that had just become ‘Facebook official’ nor when conversations would start with, ‘did you see that photo on Facebook?’
That’s when I knew that not only have social media websites changed the way we communicate, they have also changed what we communicate about and how they have become embedded into today’s society. It seems email doesn’t fulfil our needs anymore and it’s pretty much only useful for sending a simple message; we can’t become engrossed in someone else’s life through email.
It’s not before long that we’ll remember something that used to exist, called email, although we probably won’t remember quite what it was.