11/07/2014 10:32 BST | Updated 09/09/2014 06:59 BST

How Can You Live Without Social Media?


I wouldn't hide behind a tree or a parked car to follow my ex-girlfriends every move? Nor would I invite every person I meet in a nightclub, to view my daughter's baby pictures. I don't stroll casually down the street screaming at the top of my lungs 'Well done me!' in regards to my personal achievements as I have no desire to be considered conceited or narcissistic.

I'd rather avoid the funny looks in the work staff room. Who in their right mind, purposely speaks loud enough for everyone to hear your weekend plans with a new partner? I know some colleagues have 'complicated' relationship situations, so being an inconsiderate attention seeker isn't top of my list.

Nevertheless, social media has seduced us into thinking that each of these behaviours we revile are normal behind a computer screen. I'm suddenly yelling about my achievements and voicing my opinions with random abandonment; a minute later, I'm gushing my infatuation for a new 'boo'.

The social validation of likes and comments are intoxicating, having me check for notifications every few minutes. My perceived intelligence or wit can become legendary - even if it incites racial, cultural or gender tensions. By legendary, I mean the possibility my post may go viral.

I can stalk people without their knowledge, (because I wasn't invited to a social gathering) or invade their privacy without a care in the world. Whoever thought that simply uploading a wedding snap would prompt a tense - but politely scripted status - from the newlyweds begging me to stop? Too bad, it was two hours after I already did it. What's the point of an expensive photographer anyway? Nobody's coming to your house to see the album.

But, of course, I'm normal.

I won't deny it. Who hasn't stalked their exes page? Everybody does it, I just want to see how they're doing. But who's that in the photo they liked? Let's have a closer look at them. Since we're on it, let's look at some other people's pages too. I have to admit you post some interesting stuff even if I still think you're a d**k; and yes, I will aggressively defend myself for poking around your page. You put the information into the public sphere. If you don't want it judged. Don't do it.

But, of course, I'm normal.

Who doesn't share with their 'friends', (and everybody that they know), that I graduated; got an interview; got a new job; started a company; began a relationship; got engaged; had a baby; bought a house; got married, diagnosed as depressed...oops, not always that one! However, if I'm being honest, most of my status updates are self-serving.

They're not for you; they're for me!

Consciously or not, I seek a response. Desire them even. Why else would I post it? Craving approval like a peer-influenced teen whose values, beliefs, emotions and experiences need to be validated as worthy. Acknowledging that others are just like me and my existence is one worth continuing.

I can't hide my disgust, however, at those who post vague statuses, implying that something bad has happened in their life. Such a desperate attempt to obtain likes and comments from others as insecure as they are is sickening. I'd never do that. Do they know what people think of them? I wish there was an 'unlike' button.

However, perhaps we are all on the same spectrum and trajectory; it's just that some unfortunate people are ahead of the curve. According to Cameron Marlow, the average Facebook user has 120 friends. I've got waaaay more than that, but then again, my selfies on Twitter have shown people that I'm more than above average. However, he suggests that on average, with 120 friends, you will only interact regularly with approximately the same 7 people if you are male; and the same 10, if you are female. Unwittingly, our close circles remain intimately small, despite the presence of social media.

The problem is the metamorphosis we encounter when online.

We know our 'friends' are privy to our photos, bio's and updates. However, they are also witnesses to what we say; to what others say about these things and even judgmental opinions of complete strangers who can access our lives in a way that never existed before. Therefore we pick and choose, edit and embellish. Sometimes, the unforeseen ramifications of our false and needy social media personas, have been dramatic; the ever increasing stories of cyber bullying; stalking; sexual abuse and even physical harm are testimony to this. The social media illusion has the majority of us thinking, an over sexualised, opinionated or over-indulged image is the way to go. We know better - yet we still engage.

Of course, some people use these mediums properly, however, you're probably not one of them. Like the rest of us, you probably lie to yourself, about the complacency of your social media behaviour; and your privacy alike. Enticed by a social media machine, which targets our insecurities for a corporate benefit. I'll admit, I've watched hours of irrelevant videos on YouTube; then hypocritically retweeted a pic stating 'Time is money' or 'A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste', knowing I will probably do it again. But that's not the scary thing....

An alternative viewpoint may suggest there is nothing wrong with how people use and express themselves on social media. Indeed, in 2010, Mark Zuckerberg argued that 'privacy is no longer the norm'. That may be fine, if we were truly comfortable with how we used it. However, when the life we display is a completely alien caricature to the one we live, that is indeed frightening. Not just the psychological damage it can yield on the individual but more so on a wider scale, as this public dramatization; viewable by strangers, acts as the model to a new generation of people, born into this social seduction without knowing any different.

I mean come on, how can you live without social media! It's normal, right?