This month, two articles explored real-life examples of some of the unintended consequences of popular social media services and the kinds of behaviors they engender. What does it mean for the presentation of self in everyday life if the technology ensures the public audience is getting larger, and everyone is tuned in?
First, in Vanity Fair, Nancy Jo Sales reports on how pervasive social media contributes to a problematic culture of Friends Without Benefits:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and new dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Blendr have increasingly become key players in social interactions, both online and IRL (in real life). Combined with unprecedented easy access to the unreal world of Internet porn, the result is a situation that has drastically affected gender roles for young people.
In The Awl, a writer reflects on how a city park writing performance led to internet infamy in I Am an Object of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything:
As a member of the first generation to freely and gladly share my pictures, videos and thoughts online, I’d always—until now, anyway—adopted a “What’s the worst that could happen?” attitude, mixed with an “Everyone else is doing it!” mentality towards my online presence. Many of the best things in my life couldn’t have happened without sharing these pieces of myself online—meeting favorite authors at bars thanks to Twitter, getting another chance at a lost crush thanks to Facebook. And yet, I still felt thrown when I was presented with an image of myself that I couldn’t control.