Facebook pulls us together. This morning, a guy I knew from selfies and various share worthy updates, died. He was a friend of my husband's, though Michael wouldn't have had this guy in his life at this point if it wasn't for Facebook; he last worked with him over 20 years ago. How would you find somebody like that again other than chance, if not for social media?
I can see the side that believes social media is breaking us all apart, but in some ways it's bringing us all back in. Historically, people had church and marketplaces as a way of getting together to swap information. Since you could only write to communicate with somebody who wasn't physically near you, there were probably way more messengers running around town. I'm guessing there were ancient courier businesses. You could reach people who lived outside your immediate community, but you'd only spend your effort on those you really needed since it was such an ordeal to reach a person (along with every other thing in your life- getting to work, obtaining food and fuel, etc). This is way-back times, before last century. With modernization and suburbs and telephones things shifted around a little but I believe a good chunk of the population still got together at church and through community involvement and that those places were more active than they are today. TV programming wasn't available 24 hours a day, and with no internet the options were to sit, to do an activity within the home, or to go out and do something, which would most likely be social in some way.
It used to be harder to be social. You'd have to get all cleaned up to walk over to their place, or you'd have to hire a messenger to go make contact with your friend for you- which would be even more bother since you'd still need to go out to the messenger service or post office. How do you message the messenger? If the person was within a one hour walking radius, it was probably easier to leg it.
With all that being so hard, it's probably the main reason family and neighbours were so important: because they were handy. A convenient community. There were likely many fewer outside acquaintances in anybody's circle, leading to clans and then warfare, because outsiders were "other". Today, it's easy to know "others". Pre-internet, I had contact with those I came face to face with during the day and maybe one phone call per night with a friend, and that was it. Now I can log in to one site and spend ten minutes finding out relatively personal information about one hundred people, none of who would ever think to pick up the phone to call me. There aren't many of them I would call, either, but because it's so easy I can interact with them. People used to fall out of each others' lives naturally, but now the threads can remain without effort, held up like a helium balloon. We can all keep tabs on each other and throw a "like" back and forth every few months. Strangers become personalized. The interactions can be tiny but they wouldn't have happened in the first place at any point in human history prior to 10 years ago.
The man who died this morning isn't the first death of somebody who I've known through my newsfeed second-hand. I was introduced to him once when we bumped into him at an event. Pre-Facebook, my husband would have learned of his death via the union newsletter that will be published a month or two from now, depending on when the next issue comes out (they were union brothers). Now that we have Facebook, the tie between them remains such that my husband finds out about his very personal death one hour after it takes place, and is able to immediately text me, his wife about it, who also has a connection with the deceased. A connection as slight as a few likes on random comments over the years is still a connection that exists. I know about him and he knew about me. When a person dies nowadays, more people will miss them, in some way.
I find sociology really interesting all of a sudden. On the timeline of social evolution, Facebook is as epic as Godzilla meeting Bambi. I think it's good though, for the most part. We need to come together on a global scale for future survival I think... and maybe social media linking individuals together will trickle up and even change entire political systems. In parts of the world, it already has. I wonder what's going to happen here in the West...
Mask Me No More Questions - a cross post. It's kind of arty so I'm putting it here too. Okay? What else you need explained? - I was trying to think up a good mask pun. Mask not what your country can do for you... Last week I took a mask intensive. We wore masks and made a mask and...
1 year ago