Thinking about how pleasant it has been to be away from–and not feel harried by–social media for the last nine days.
Facebook makes a market in friendly discourse and skews it so that it, as broker, always comes out ahead. But in other ways, the friend market functions like most others: it depersonalizes exchange and reduces transaction costs, thereby increasing the number of exchanges that occur. Accordingly, the volume of friend communication was consume thanks to Facebook has increased exponentially. But we have next to no ethical obligation with regard to any of it — that’s understood by all parties entering into Facebook’s market. We are obliged only to be rational maximizers, like we are in ordinary markets.
But what has radically changed is the nature of friendship, which once upon a time was something intended specifically as a bulwark against depersonalization, against market logic. With Facebook, the consumerist allure of “more, faster” fuses with a closely related moral cowardice about rejecting people to drive us en masse to the platform, bring the efficiencies of commercialization right into the heart of our social lives. With friendship in play as an alienated revenue stream, we must retreat even further into our private lives to find a haven from commercialization, to preserve the disappearing self. Soon we’ll have to seek refuge in that evocation of the “blissful isolation of intra-uterine life” as Freud called it — the “total narcissism” of sleep, where our gadgets can’t reach us.
Young women are becoming more and more dependent on social media and checking on their social networks, according to a new study released earlier today by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research. In fact, as many as one-third of women aged 18-34 check Facebook when they first wake up, even before they get to the bathroom.
Facebook and young women–cause for concern?
As you’ve no doubt guessed from reading a dozen similar articles in The Washington Post, now’s the part of our “trend piece” where we quote an industry expert like Leonard Steinberg, a Boston University communications professor and specialist in his field who remarks in a rather defeated tone that Foursquare represents a revolutionary new way for businesses and customers to interact.
“Through its competitive elements like badges and points, Foursquare helps generate brand loyalty,” said the Ph.D.-holding individual, whose decades in higher education were basically shit upon by our inane questions about various bits of Foursquare ephemera. “It’s a unique and transformative social networking tool.”
“Can I go now?” he added.
While participation in social networks is still strong, a survey released last month by the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than half the young adults questioned had become more concerned about privacy than they were five years ago — mirroring the number of people their parent’s age or older with that worry.