Hard to believe, but for some people out there, the Internet is the real world. I sometimes get the impression that what happens in what I call real Life, the interaction with living people face-to-face and all it entails, is something which rather more than a handful of people cannot cope with, have removed themselves from. Of course, when you look at the entire world and the number of people who inhabit it, the real number of people who are living in a fantasy, virtual world seems incredibly small but, and this is a big but, even then it is far too large.
It may well be, and I am quite happy to accept this if someone can prove it to me, that these people aren’t really cut off, that they don’t really live in this virtual world and no other. It may be that the Internet, the social media networks, Facebook, Twitter and all the others, really are just a hobby and that they can tell the difference. But, if that’s the case, why do they take it so seriously?
Fine, most of the time it is just rhetoric, a little outburst over someone disappearing from their virtual lives, a little bit of bravado in front of everyone else. Although, I’m not sure that anyone else would really notice when a follower has ditched, dumped, abandoned another person. They are all far to concerned with themselves.
At the same time, I can’t help but get the feeling some people really do take it seriously. They work hard to get as many followers as possible while, quietly, not following so many people themselves. I’ve seen quite a few advertising, there is no other name for it, for more followers whilst following absolutely no one themselves. Is there a point to it all? Is there a massive scoreboard up there, in the virtual sky, saying who has made it, who is just a runner-up and who, dread the thought, a has-been?
Perhaps it is a mix of Real Life – the actual day-to-day – and virtual life, a small area which overlaps one with the other. Perhaps it is the feeling of hurt one feels when a real friend, someone you actually know, deserts you being imposed upon the virtual world, of friends you might never have met, might never have had a real conversation with. I am, of course, assuming that Twitter allows real conversations in more than just a virtual social manner. The feeling of loss when someone goes without saying goodbye, without giving any form of an explanation.
In the Internet this has been changed from just a simple loss to something far more dramatic. People who unfollow are no longer friends or even ex-friends. They have become enemies. If you’re not with me, you must be against me. Where have we heard that before.
There are even web sites which specialize is keeping track of a person’s followers, on various social media sites, and letting you know that a certain number have joined, a certain number have left. As if the user themselves in incapable of seeing a change in numbers, incapable of noticing the difference themselves. There are even a few sites which list exactly who has moved on which, for me, is not just sad but, to a certain extent, a breach of privacy. Do I need a faceless entity to tell me that users X and Y are no longer there? What am I going to do with the information?
Are there people out there, in the Internet, who are so fixated on their follower count that they’d consider some form of revenge? Because that’s what such systems, such listings, seem to encourage.
Is that really what social media networking is all about?
Love & Kisses, Viki.