Friday, November 30, 2012

Egocentric Sharing: Facebook and "Me"

My friend Ted's profile pic.
Facebook is kind of a paradox, if you think about it. It is a "sharing" site -- one that exists to promote "community" among online friends. That's why it should seem strange that it promotes a certain amount of ego-centrism. I'm not exempt from this; I don't think any Facebook user is. Some, however, are over the top.

This "sharing community," as I am sure I have mentioned, makes some of us automatically pretend to be movie stars. I won't get into it, but we've all seen the poses on the profile pics. It's embarrassing. (There is a rebellion against this with people who refuse to post pictures of themselves -- I do get that, but it also makes it harder for people to identify you as the same James Smith they knew in the seventh grade...)

But what interests me is how we tend to think that we are not a molecule in the universe that is Facebook. I am guilty of this. Just recently, I have felt as if one of my FB friends has been absent from my threads. My first thought: I wonder if she is mad at me. Pretty silly, when you think about the fact that, not only does she have a gazillion other friends on her mind but also that she has a whole life to worry about outside of whether my last post was funny enough for a "like."

My friend Bernice's profile pic.
There is also the issue of the person who thinks every slightly snarky post about "people" is about him or her. Many is the time I have made a random observation about people and gotten an inbox message with: "Are you talking about me?" In many cases, this message will have come from someone I forgot I was even Facebook friends with, let alone someone who was a target of my digital satire. Couple this with the fact that even I am not dumb enough to target a friend with my vitriol, however true. ("So," Vinnie Gruber, from my third grade music class asks, "what is he not saying about me?")

But I guess that is just the way it is: we look out through the same pair of eyes from birth to death, regardless of how "linked" we may feel with others. In the end we are born and we die alone, as they say. I suppose we are ever cursed to be continually on our own minds and, so, we automatically assume that we spend a lot of time on the minds of others. Surely, we must be the most important of our friends' 87,000 Facebook pals!


  1. I would love to make friends with your friend Ted, if you could let me have his contact details - and my husband requests the same for your nice friend Bernice. One of my daughters quotes someone else (forgotten who) who said 'Facebook makes you hate all your friends while Twitter makes you believe you are best friends with a crowd of complete strangers'

    1. Ah -- Ted and Bernice. The tales I could tell you... Please tell your daughter I have never read a more accurate description of social media -- love the quotation. Though, I am sad to hear the implication that @yolo777 isn't really my pal.