In the Cultural Studies section of the New York Times, Katie Roiphe wrote on August 13, 2010 about the cultural phenomenon that is Facebook. Facebook and other social networking websites are changing the way people communicate--not for the better. Roiphe says:
"Somewhere in the gap between status posting and the person in their room at night is life itself. So fiction is the right response, the right commentary, the right point to be making about who we are in these dangerously consuming media, in these easy addictive nano-connections.
"It is not, alas, 'The Sun Also Rises,' but Facebook is the novel we are all writing."
Why does that statement make me feel so sad? I look at young people, and not so young people, who have become enthralled with sitting at a computer or texting from their phones. They are tuned out to reality and tuned in to shallow relationships where reality can be cruel "put-downs," or false representations to make oneself look or feel more socially acceptable, beautiful, handsome, etc., etc. Roiphe cites an example of such communication:
"So if you say, 'can’t wait for the Lady Gaga concert,' you might add 'lol' or you might say 'Hey you are at camp and I’m in England, but I just wanted to let you know that I miss youuuu hahaha' to make it clear that you are not really looking forward to anything or expressing an actual emotion in a way that might be overly earnest or embarrassing."
So many young people today are spending hours and hours per day out of touch with people--family or friends. If it isn't Facebook or MySpace, it's one of those games played on a PlayStation or computer.
Do you remember the ominous warning on TV when you and I were growing up? "Do youuuuuuu know where your children are?" Today, I think parents may know where their children are, but may be too busy in their own lives to make sure that those kids are actively involved in ways to build their futures.For a look at the dark side of being a teenager, read "The Language of Fakebook" by Katie Roiphe, published August 13, 2010 in the New York Times.
Katie Roiphe teaches at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Her last book is “Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages.”