X-posted to WordPress – not really government related, but Social Media related:
We all remember the pseudo-psychology of the 80s when Self-Esteem issues were identified and the concept beat to death as a crutch for young up and coming emergent adults when we suffered failures in life. As we approach the end of this decade, the first decade of the new millennium, it would be interesting to see what the newest statistics are showing – as far as the levels of self-esteem, especially in the young adult age range.
We are privileged to live in such a well-connected society, that we even surpass international boundaries. I felt the need to take a step back and examine where we are, as compared to where we’ve been.
Many of my co-workers are very cyber-resistant and tasked with the responsibility of examining our established and emerging Social Media tools, and I frequently suggest that they get a Facebook account, simply to familiarize themselves with the topic of discussion. All too often, when I suggest that they look at Facebook, they immediately answer, “But I don’t have any friends.” Well, Ladies and Gents, neither do I. So, let me tell you a little bit about myself, then and now.
I graduated high school in 1990. I have to let that delicate piece of information slip, in order to make my point. In my heyday of teen angst and budding young adulthood, it was easy for not-so-outgoing folks to develop low self-esteem. It was hard to make friends and get out and go places. As I entered college, and had “places of my own,” it was even more difficult. It felt as though one had to constantly reach out and maintain those relationships in order not to lose them. If you were studying hard for an upcoming exam, or writing a paper, or were sick for a week, it felt as though the world moved on without you.
For some of us, those introverted ones especially, it was so easy to sink into the abyss of self-pity, self-doubt and self-hate. “Nobody cares about me,” we’d say. “Everybody is having a good time, and they don’t need me.” With our ever-spreading college choices and career moves, we left home to go to school, then followed job offerings in places far from our home and college towns. We promised our dearest school chums that we would definitely keep in touch, and we did, for the first few months, even years. Then we drifted apart. The self-pity continued. “I’m all alone in a strange town, and nobody loves me.”
In the last few years, Facebook (and other Social Networks) have emerged and offered us the opportunity, not only to create and maintain connections with our new friends, coworkers, family, but also to retrace our lives and pick up some dropped threads from the tapestry of our relationships. I have several hundred friends on Facebook. Are they ALL friends? No, of course not; I have some professional pages, some businesses and public figures. Yet, I have a ton of my high school, college and former and current business contacts. I have also used MySpace and Facebook to dig up some relatives with whom I had lost contact.
I also have a presence on Twitter. Between my posts on Twitter and Facebook, I am keeping all these folks up to date with the minutiae of my life. Thanks to my newsfeeds and followed tweets, I am included in the day to day highlights of all my friends’ lives. I experience such a thrill when a friend comments or responds in some way to something I posted. I have been affirmed; I do exist – I matter. Although I can’t honestly claim that I am bosom buddies with each of my hundreds of friends, I am certainly convinced that our circles are definitely widening and that our world is definitely growing tighter. And I’m right in the middle of it all – how’s that for self-esteem?
Good post! I adore Facebook. I feel sometimes I am a paradox. I am such an outgoing person, but there are times that I don’t leave the house (except for work) for weeks. I love staying home when that suits me, and I love going out when that suits me. What I don’t like is feeling like I have let a friend down when they want to go out and I don’t or feel like I am non-social when I really am not. Facebook gives me the freedom to be who I want to be when I want to be that person and no one holds it against me at all. I love it. I am on facebook almost everyday, but one day I just may want to say hi, and other days I may want to be on for a few hours leaving all kinds of comments for my “friends”. Here is the great thing about facebook…if one of my friends happen to be on the cycle of not wanting to talk, and I do…fine I leave them some funny comment, and in their PJs they cna get back to me when they get a chance…no hurt feelings. And visa versa! When we decide to meet one another in person, some of us can meet and just update the others who did not want to go. We can even include these people by leaving them updates where we are out and also update photos. The people who were not in the mood to meet, are never really left out. They are included on their own terms, and the same with me. If I don’t want to be included in a group activity, I never feel left out. Someone always sends me stuff updating me on the activities of the group.
I have heard that facebook is for those who have no life or for those who are using facebook as a substitute for real friends….. they have got to be kidding. I use facebook as an extension of my life. I have more involvement with family and friends now then I had before.
I cannot tell you how much I love facebook.
As for self esteem…. how can you have low self esteem on facebook when someone sends you a video of dancing babies! LOL
Oddly what was the relm of geeks, nerds and other – well “the group not allowed to belong ot any other group” is now used by the masses – computers. I doubt I will get a facebook account I do Twitter. What is interesting is how we have gone from text (TTY) to 300 Baud modm, to HTML, to video and YouTube and back to text.
Text can level the playing field and reveal some intersting truths. Using a generic login TE757 the first, I mean the first quiestion, that comes up is “Is that Mr. or Mrs TE757” – gender is the first question followed by where do I work.
No one asks my age, weight, ethnic background, IQ, income, etc. Nor should it matter.
Texting is a way to build self esteme before any harsh reality.
BTW – why no facebook? I prefer to sit down with my friends.
Hopefuly Twitter, Blogs and Facebook are new forums to those who never had much of a voice. Seeing what they have to offer displayed and accepted by others will build real self esteme.
Amanda, I understand your paradox but Yun-Mei Lin I see your point and hope this helps. Its very rewardig to have someong say “Yea I like what you posted” for that builds self esteme not easily worn away.
Amanda, I don’t think you are a paradox. I believe that you are a complex human being with more than one side.
Allen, as someone who very reluctantly joined the Facebook network, I can tell you that it is not as limiting as you might think.
Just some more thoughts – I always seem to think of more after I finish a post:
One aspect I really enjoy about FaceBook is one which you already brought up in your comment, Amanda. Different people use it in different ways, and differently on different days. As far as the comment that it is being used by the nerds and geeks with no social skills, well, I think we can take a look at all the jocks and cheerleaders using the networks and see that we’re all nerds and geeks in some ways.
There are definitely remnants of those who “lurk,” those who have accounts only to “follow” their contacts’ activities – updating their own status messages but rarely, and hardly ever checking their FB feeds.
There are also those who are quiet in reality, but are very prolific online. They voice controversial or tame opinions – they comment on many of their friends’ posts – they blog constantly.
Less in depth than the former crew, but even more prolific, are those who have completely embraced the micro-blogging concept, as well as the other aspects of FB – like the photo uploads. These tools are dominated by, but certainly not limited to, those with children. I love the fact I can see all the updates about my friends’ lives, including the expansions of their families.
And then there are those who use the FB forums as an extended text messenger – using the forum to coordinate activities, confirm appointments and set up meet-ups. These folks engage in very active external social lives, and then are kind enough to share by posting some of the event highlights (either text, photos or videos) keeping the rest of us in the loop.
There are also those who have plugged into various news venues, highly customizable to our own personal interests. Once a news item of interest crosses our paths, we can “share” the topics on our Facebook pages, and once again, that has proven highly integral in connecting and reconnecting us with our personal contacts.
I fall into all the above categories. What is most delightful to me, is that I am in contact, however nebulously, with many folks with whom I would traditionally not have kept in contact. I have happily renewed some of these acquaintanceships and am happy to be part of their circles.
Allen, I don’t think it’s required of you to get a Facebook account, but it’s just a tool and it’s up to you how (if) you want to use it. Personally, though, I’ve found it to really enrich both my personal and my professional lives.
I’ve noticed the same. On a personal level, social media has let me keep in contact with people that I don’t see that often. And in a way that has strengthened our friendship. I see pictures of their vacations, their daily struggles and successes, and when we meet up we don’t have to spend a bunch of time catching up on small talk. We can build upon the small talk already on the other channels. Pretty fun!