I don’t do social networking – am I asocial?

“Hey, sad thing what happened to X, isn’t it? No one deserves this.”
“Well, what happened to him?”
“You don’t know? His girlfriend cheated on him and he caught her right in the act! How come you don’t know? He posted it in facebook this morning.”
“I don’t have facebook.”
“You don’t…what?”

Well, it’s a fictitious dialogue but, yeah, I don’t belong to the hundreds of millions of people possessing a facebook account. It happened that people stared at me in disbelief, eyes wide, jaws dropping open. “But everyone has facebook these days.” Yeah, well, I’m not everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think myself to be one hell of special. I’m just me…and “me” doesn’t have a facebook account. Period.
I never deemed it necessary to create an account and I still don’t. Why? Ok, let’s start from the beginning.

It all started with these networks for pupils. Reconsidering these times I found out what bothered me subconsciously about them. You had to be invited by someone already registered to be able to create your own account. So, back in school, you could hear students asking around “Hey, could you send me an invitation for X and Y this evening? I’d like to join it.” Strange, isn’t it? I mean, you wouldn’t ask someone “Hey, I heard tomorrow’s your birthday. Could you invite me to your party?” It’s kind of humiliting for the one who asks; begging to be invited. It sounds a bit like “Hey, I don’t have any friends. Would you like to be my friend?” You may laugh but kids or adolescents think like this.
Yes, asking for an invitation to join a social network is kind of like admitting to have no friends. Or how come anyone hasn’t invited you yet?

Honestly, I don’t have many friends as well (3 to be exact. But I’d trust each of them with my life. It’s quality, not quantity that counts). However, one of these friends send me an invitation and I found myself having access to the inner circle of the abyss of the human mind. Ok, being able to send messages for free was quite a nice thing. Finding former class mates was cool, too but that was all.

Ok, social networks weren’t as modern as today when I was a student, however, all the shit (excuse my language) that’s hitting the news today began there already. Students started to bully others in messages or wrote down nasty things on their digital pinboards. Oh, and don’t forget the wonderful groups that were founded.
“X’s mom is a b….”,
“X reeks of fish as is proud of it”
Or simply “We hate X” and X could click on the group and see that so-and-so many people hated him/her. Most of the people didn’t even know X.
It was the same with racist groups. E.g. “ZZZ – we know what it means” with I don’t know how many “followers” who mistook their cursor for a hood.  But hate seems to always have been spreading like a forest fire.
I left this type of network. Although I knew a lot of people there, I couldn’t identify myself with what they thought or did. I didn’t feel well getting invitations for hate groups against people I had never even heard of. Of course the same holds true concerning people I knew. The thing is that the people in these group did not necessarily hate the group’s chosen victim. It was more like group pressure and the fear of repercussions. Yes, no one wanted to be the victim, so better join the “predator” (for want of a better word).

Actually, I’d like to know how many people were broken by these networks. I mean, it was just like in school. Everyone ignored you there and everyone ignored you in the digital world. When in real life people tried their best to make friends, it was damn hard to cope with the rejection. But the torture went on in the digital world with posts like “Stupid c*** S. Why does she always bother me? Can’t she see that no one likes her.” And similar things. The victims were often invited into the networks to be able to see how their classmates thought about them.
In the end I distanced myself from that world. Did I distance myself from society? Did I distance myself from social standards? Did that make me asocial?
Let’s keep these questions in mind.

It’s the same with facebook these days (no, this is nothing against facebook itself. It just that it’s the most famous of all the social networks around) Yes, I wasn’t quite honest in the beginning. I hope you can forgive me. Actually, I had a facebook account for approx. 1 month. I found people I knew and people who knew me found me. It didn’t do me any good.
Why did I join in the first place? Out of curiosity. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I’m still waiting for the answer. Ok, it’s still a nice thing to find people you once knew but that’s about it.
It was not the same as with the student networks. No, it was worse. People literally digitized their lives.
“Just woke up.”
“Too much party yesterday. Hungover.”
“Drunk yesterday. Vomited on our cat. Vacuum it off when it’s dry.”
Honestly, I couldn’t care less. Call me narrow-minded but it were things like these that really put me off.

Everyone was documenting each step they took. Privacy was kicked in the butt, no, wait, it was actually given up on purpose. It felt like people were naked, got naked by every bit of information they offered to the world wide web, to people they didn’t even know. No one could keep anything to themselves. Excuse my language, again, but it felt like digital prostitution as everyone was offering a big chunk of their lives. Not to mention all the pictures that went with their profiles.
The alleged anonymity of the Internet made a cross the last frontiers of shame.
Consequently, I left this digital world as well. I had gathered my impressions and experiences and was left with the same questions as before: Did I distance myself from society? Did I distance myself from social standards? Did that make me asocial?

Well, let’s try to answer them or rather let me try to answer them. In order to do so, I’ll first have a look at the definition of “asocial”. Wiktionary defines “asocial” as ‘not social’ or ‘not sociable’ [http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/asocial]. Wikipedia says the following: “Asociality refers to the lack of a strong motivation to engage in social interaction and/or the preference for solitary activities.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asociality]. Further on in the article it says that “a degree of asociality is routinely observed in introverts”. I am an introvert, so yes, I might be asocial to a certain degree. Does the question rather have to be “am I even more asocial?”?
Considering that social networks today are part of society I distanced myself from that part, in a way, by leaving the networks. Before elaborating on this, though, let’s take a look at social standards. According to Wirtschaftslexikon24.net social standards are “norms to evaluate behavior as good, desirable etc.” [http://www.wirtschaftslexikon24.net/e/standard-sozialer/standard-sozialer.htm] Reading this made me come to the following conclusion:

As being or not being part of a social network can definitely never judge one (I mean, you can’t say “he’s in facebook so he must be a good guy” and vice versa) social networking can, in my opinion, not be seen as a social standard. What I have to admit, though, is that I, on purpose, distanced myself from a certain circle by leaving a network. However, a good friend of mine once said that “true friends will call you, no matter what”. And I think he is perfectly right. No friendship should be defined by being or not being part of a network. This works wonderful with the few but super friends I have got. Consequently, leaving any of these networks did, at least, not make me more asocial. And I think that keeping things to yourself does not necessarily make you asocial.

What’s your opinion on social networking? Do you think not joining them means distancing yourself from society or a certain group of people?

P.S.: Excuse me, if there shouldn’t be too much order in my writng. I just wrote down what came into my mind. But I’ll try to improve my writing. Promised 🙂

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