BLOG 3: Is Social Network a Social Paradise or a Dystopia Tool?

FaceBook Like Button by GlockStore

My friend once told me that IKEA builds furniture, he then continued to ask me what is Facebook building. “I don’t know,” I said. “A community,” he said with a smirk on his face. It is undeniable that social networking sites promote borderless communication and make the world a smaller place. Facebook is indeed building a society. In fact, it is creating one utopian society of 1.23 billion people. Facebook is like a country by itself as it is almost reaching the total number of people in China (1.35bn). Sir Thomas More coined the term utopia in Greek; he described the term as a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean. In other words, utopian is perfection. Some argue that utopian can never be achieved because perfection is almost impossible. However, social networking sites are capable of portraying a utopian culture.

Anyone can easily post a picture of a boring party, edit the lightings and caption it “BEST PARTY EVAAA!” The person who posted that picture knows that the party is lame, but does anybody on his/her friend list know that? Nop. The same person might also post a picture of his/her Greek house and caption it “MY FAMILIA”, but in reality he/she doesn’t know half of the members’ names. All sham aside, that is perfection right there. Social networks make the world so small that you can easily comment on your 8th grade nemesis photo with compliments, nonetheless you still dislike him/her as much as you hate mustard. It is possible to create utopian social networking sites; it’s just a matter of it being realistic or not. Most of us portray the best damn life one can ever have (on social networks), however know that technology makes it possible. Also, these are something people do for self-fulfilment and to please your friends on social networks. According to Fred Turner, “New technology will bring universal wealth, enhanced freedom, revitalized politics, satisfying community, and personal fulfilment.” Have you ever wondered why does Facebook only have the “like” button, and not the “dislike” button? This is an example of an ideal undertaking. In order to be an ideal community, it is necessary to only have buttons such as “like,” “retweet”, “favorite” and so on. Sure, there is the “report” button, but does anybody really know who reported it? We sure do know who clicked “like”!

Social networks are dystopian tools in a way where nothing is as real anymore. Most of us no longer engage in a face-to-face contact, instead we are facing the blue (Facebook and Twitter, get it?) screens and “poking” our friends on Facebook. Where have the intimate connections vanish to? Most of us (even if we are too shy to admit it) crave for intimate friendships or relationships. Ask yourself this, would you rather go on dates the traditional way or have a quick chat on Facebook/Twitter? Face-to-face interactions are hands down, one of the best ways to get to know someone. Additionally, people are increasingly “meeting” people on social network sites before they even meet them in real life. As a result, they choose who they want to be friends with, thus limiting their possibility of encountering with those who are superficially different than them.

Are social networking sites social paradises or dystopian tools? What makes your Facebook timeline filled with posts of others utopian? What makes your profile utopian?

By Cheryl Joseph

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One comment

  1. Your friends analogy might need some work… Ikea can be seen in two ways. It could be (1) An altrusitic corporation that is trying to make a well-designed home accessible to all by offering simply-designed furniture at a low cost. it can sell the furniture at a low cost because it uses lightweight materials and shifts the cost of labor to the customer by making all their products DIY-projects. As a result, more people have more access, and learn a handy skill of assembling pre-designed furniture. Or it could be (2) a company that is focused on profits, using the trending aesthetic of Scandinavian design to draw more consumers to it’s products that are built to be disposable, and from non-sustainable materials, thus drawing them into be repeat customers when their cheaply constructed products fail and need to be replaced.

    Apply those two analogies to Facebook, and think of what kind of community Facebook might be building.

    As Rushkoff says, these social systems (consumerism and online social networking alike) are much more complicated than we tend to believe based on our mostly superficial engagement with them.

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