Is Social Networking Breeding a New Culture Of Self-importance?
So, you’ve got 200 Facebook friends and 20 Twitter followers. You feel important - right up there, in celebrity status, alongside Tom Cruise, Pope Benedict XVI and… Susan Boyle. People seem to want to follow your every move - and you oblige by telling them when you eat breakfast, visit the toilet and wash your best pair of pants.
Then, one day, you go through your friends list and it hits you - 195 of your 200 Facebook friends are actually made up of the following:
1) Former classmates from school (who you didn’t really know because you were busy studying in the library or hiding in the janitor’s cupboard whilst they were fighting, smoking and having teenage sex behind the lockers)
2) Old work colleagues (who regularly taunted you for your unusual dress sense and over-large nose).
3) People you met once at a social occasion, but never really spoke to. You just remember their name and the fact that they like bird watching.
4) People who mistake you for someone else (well, you did put a picture of Scooby Doo as your profile photo) and then can’t be bothered to remove you when they realise you’re not who they thought you were.
Despite discovering all this, you still find yourself needing to log on to Facebook and Twitter at every available opportunity to check whether someone has written on your wall (technically, graffiti), posted a follow-up to your comment, or to see if someone has re-tweeted your earlier 140 character creation of genius. Later that day, your only real friend goes through your Twitter followers list and breaks some extra bad news to you: 18 of your 20 Twitter followers are actually just porn pedlars.
The Lives Of The Self-Important
So, why do social networking websites make people think that they must share everything with the world? Perhaps it is down to the questions that they ask: “what are you doing?” or “what’s happening?” (Twitter) or “what’s on your mind?” (Facebook). It’s a dream come true for people with over-inflated egos.
I’m amazed when people tweet that they’re sitting in traffic on the motorway, washing their hair or about to go out and buy a new pair of knickers. Now, if they were about to meet Pope Benedict XVI (or Susan Boyle, I don’t mind which) and present him (or her) with the fore-mentioned pair of knickers, I would be interested (and would probably even re-tweet it to my own tens of ‘interested’ followers). For me, these people put the “twit” into Twitter.
When out in public, the behaviour of the self-important is extraordinary to watch. I observed one such person on Friday night. I was in a busy cocktail bar and as it got towards the end of the night, I glanced to the side of the room to observe a rather inebriated man sit down at a computer screen and log in to Facebook. You could tell he was drunk - it was a real struggle for him to locate and type each letter of his username and password. If that wasn’t a complete giveaway to his drunken state, his next action certainly was, as he got up shouted out “I’ve got my lasagne” and then proceeded to pull a small plastic bag out of his pocket (containing said lasagne) and whirl it round and round his head in celebration…
Now then, at that point I could have considered it to be a monumental moment worth sharing with the Internet world, taken out my iPhone and tweeted ‘just stood in a cocktail bar and watched a man whirl lasagne around his head". Did I? No… damn, why didn’t I?
To conclude this rant, an idea: Perhaps Twitter should change its initial question to say: “so, what makes you think you’re so bloody interesting today?”
Maybe someone should also start a list of ‘self-important people’ (not to be confused with ‘self impotent’ people - that’s a different blog post altogether), gather them all in the same place, with their computers and mobile phones, and see what happens. Forget the Hadron Collider and the Maya 2012 predictions - this idea could really cause the destruction of mankind!