Contrary to what the amount of caffeine in my system dictates, I can’t help but stop and allow myself the brevity of a short pause’s worth of contemplation. It occurs to me that, much like the way I am now sitting in front of my lap top, (writing this post for your reading pleasure), engaging in some specific form of interaction with whoever reads this blog, there are millions of people scattered throughout the face of this planet, doing the exact same thing, and more than likely in a much more direct manner than I am doing right now. I can’t help but think that, not only are there millions of people out there doing the exact same thing, but the amount of time for which they have been doing the exact same thing is also more than likely a longer period of time (and I mean much, much longer) than the time I have taken typing this post. Surely, even as I finish typing this post and prepare for the day ahead, those same millions of people that were on their internet-accessible devices, interacting with other millions of people, will continue to do so and remain in that state for even longer periods of time.
So then comes the question: What is it about this entire meta of online social interaction that keeps us plastered to our seats, uploading the latest pictures of last night’s crazy shindigs or waiting for someone to respond to our posted frustration of “Fuck doing lab reports”? Why are we so preoccupied with letting the hundreds of friends we have on Facebook know that “I just drank my tenth cup of coffee and I am so wired!”? But most importantly, why must we do it so often, and for such extended periods of time?
Well, after careful consideration, I managed to construct a hypothesis of my own that, in a very subtle way, coincides with a couple articles I was able to find online. It is my hypothesis that, we are so attached (addicted if you will) to online social interaction because ultimately, as much as we love to deny it, we seek to make a connection, a human connection, with others. We hate to admit it, but we love the attention that we are given when someone responds to even the smallest aspect or details of our life – that is, the parts of our life that we willingly decide to portray on the web for the viewing pleasure of well, everyone.
It sounds simple, I know, almost too simple, but I believe it is true, or at the very least it is a major factor behind the reasons why we spend so much time on online social websites.
According to this rudimentary study on Facebook addiction, my suspicions are not unfounded. Although the conclusions drawn from this study are phrased differently, they intersect, even if only casually with my own hypothesis. Basically, if we were to categorize the people that we can say are addicted not just to Facebook, but to online social networks in general, we would find a distinguishable pattern among this group of people. Things like a connection to neurosis and extraversion as mentioned by Dr. Andreassen and colleagues, as well as its prominence among individuals of a young age.
All of these things can be ultimately tied in to our constant need of attention and our need to distinguish ourselves from everyone else. We strive to make a human connection because well, we are weak and frail creatures that need to feel a sense of solidarity with the people that form part of our lives and more. We gain a sense of satisfaction and reward when someone comments on, or “likes” something we post. It’s arguable, but the truth is that the great majority of us wouldn’t be able to live without that connection, that feeling that assures us of our existence and relevance to other people’s lives – that feeling that we are sure is keeping us sane. And therein is the irony of our lives: that the very concept we created to maintain our sanity is the the same thing that is driving us to our insanity.
So that’s that. Why do you think we are so attached to the online social network enigma? Rain your thoughts on me.
Also, ladies, I found this interesting article online that you might want to check out. I can’t wait to see what you think about that.