Monday, September 22, 2014

Why Facebook Breeds Voyeurism

by Ari Herzog
Rachel Jonat recently shared why she quit Facebook, extracting in part:
I want more from my friends than status updates. I want to give my friends more than status updates. If this person isn’t significant enough in my life for a birthday phone call or visit or even a personal email, why do I want to stay on top of where they are vacationing and that they got a new puppy. I’d rather give up the 189 Facebook friends, the majority of whom I don’t have or want the phone number of, and focus on the people near and dear to me.
Emailing Rachel and seeking information she didn’t share in that guest article on Courtney Carver’s blog, I wanted to know more details why she quit Facebook, a phenomenon Jorgen Sundberg attributes to early adopters losing faithin the social networking site’s multiple changes over the years and finding increased value networking on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Rachel replied that she joined Facebook in 2006 as a convert from MySpace. She spent several hours a day on the site, reading updates from so-called friends and sharing her own updates. She was wasting time and she knew it. She had enough. Admitting Facebook is great for establishing connections between friends and family, Rachel also observed herself using the website “as a crutch to be a bad friend,” elaborating:
Because I saw status updates and pictures of friends I felt like I had connected with them. I hadn’t. Instead of calling people or seeing people I just watched them on Facebook. That’s not a friendship; that’s voyeurism.
Stephen Chukumba identifies with her belief, for he wrote last year that he considers Facebook a medium for three types of people:
1. people who write updates and share information
2. people who don’t write anything or share infrequently
3. people who watch everyone else Facebooking
Focusing on the third typology, the voyeur, he expands:
So that girl that couldn’t stand you in college because she thought that you thought that you were all that, now knows that you’re no longer as cute as you used to be (cause she’s trolled pictures of you in Facebook) and silently rejoices – and then tries to friend you (cause she’s hot now – and wants you to know it). Even if she never actually tries to friend you, she can sit, eating Bon Bons, taking pleasure in every ‘It’s complicated’ post you publish, relishing personal trials and travails.
What’s so disturbing about it, is that you’ll never know your whole life is under the scrutiny of crazies. Most people probably don’t put that much thought into what they post or publish, because they feel like it’s among friends.
But in this age of reality TV, TMZ and YouTube, every personal gaffe is potentially fodder for the masses.
Rachel didn’t want the masses to know her every move but moreover she didn’t care to know theirs. She wrote me that she deliberated for a week and posted a status update on her Facebook wall with her phone number and email address, and left that update there for three days. She told her friends she wanted to see them more in person than online.
Maybe you can identify with Rachel’s feelings. I can.
And now, in the weeks since she quit?
Life is still being lived even though I’m not on Facebook. I’m seeing people in person more, the people that I actually had phone numbers for – not the Facebook friends that I hadn’t seen in five years and wouldn’t think to invite over for dinner. I’m using Skype to see and talk to friends out of town and writing some long overdue emails. It feels good.
If inspired to learn more about Rachel, she writes a blog about minimalism and tweets as @RachelJonat.

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