What is the difference between vigilance, narcissism, and complete paranoia?

I’d say it depends on your definition of, and usage levels for, Facebook.  Yes, that’s right:  I am saying that I think how a person uses Facebook, and how much emphasis one places on it’s contents, says a lot about character, and social development. 

I recently had a discussion with a colleague about how the overuse of technology by today’s younger generation is having a negative impact on social skill development.  What it boils down to is this:  children growing up with a glut of technological dependence are less likely to develop the appropriate social skills, namely facial recognition and vocal intonations, than that of the preceeding generation.  I’ve also discovered that it isn’t just the “younger generation” that’s dealing with this – I’m finding it’s also the older generation, too.  However, the older folks can still interpret and respond to “in person” subtleties – it’s the “online” subtleties that are starting to deteriorate because of our growing use of certain technologies.

This is a severe problem for many reasons, most of them pretty obvious, but the one I’d like to really focus on is perception. 

We perceive everything and everyone around us.  Our interpretation of what is going on, and how we then respond to it, relies heavily on our ability to recognize and categorize other people’s expressions, body language, vocabulary usage, and tone of voice.  This was far easier to do when we had to actually speak with someone in person, or over the phone. 

Now, however, it’s far more difficult to truly interpret a person’s intended meaning through a text message, email, or post on Facebook. 

Why do I feel this topic is important enough to write an entire blog entry about it?

Because this lack of proper perception is causing a lot of bullshit on Facebook these days, not only for myself, but pretty much for everyone I know. 

The combined issues of less “face time” with an inflated sense of self-importance (that, honestly, we all have, because Facebook allows us to display our lives for the world to see in our own little limelight, and for everyone to “like” what we are doing/saying) is causing pictures, posts, and comments meant for other parties to be perceived by some as a direct semaphore to themselves. 


I think what this all boils down to is this:  not every post, comment, or picture is intended to address every person our friends lists.  Sometimes these postings just are what they are –  or they are intended for another party altogether.  When someone incorrectly perceives something as such, it causes a domino effect of other posts, comments, and pictures aimed at the ill-perceived “offending party.” 

And Facebook isn’t the only technology where this happens. 

Thus, friendships are destroyed, or at the minimum made questionable; relationships quiver, and potentially, careers are at stake.  As a result, we all become unnecessarily vigilant, narcissistic, and paranoid.  Is this healthy and sustainable?  Probably not.

So what do we do? 

In my humble, but very straightforward opinion: we all need to get ahold of ourselves, check our perceptions, and quit thinking the world revolves around us.

And for a really good laugh on this topic, be sure to check out The Oatmeal’s “How to Suck at Facebook.” It’s hilarious.

3 thoughts on “Perception

  1. I hesitated to comment on this post because I agree with you so greatly. Does that make sense?! It’s comforting to know there are people out there who are noticing these problems and are at least doing humanity a service by thinking/musing about them.

    I did not delete my Facebook account, but I did make an important change, six months ago: I stopped logging in. What did I find out? Just like telling your computer to stop remembering you passwords forces YOU to actively remember them yourself; ignoring the almighty, so-called “Newsfeed” on Facebook causes you to reach out to your real friends in more meaningful and sincere ways. Communicaton on Facebook amounts to grunts and cookie-cutter sentiments, it’s no wonder people are becoming more and more isolated from one another.

    I still have my Facebook account; I may log on once a month, but most often I forget all about it until I get an e-mail notification that someone’s posted something on my wall. I wanted to distance myself from the vitriol and needless bickering you mentioned, but also because I felt boxed in by the way it puts friendship and communication in a tidy, deceptive blue box.

  2. Obviously we have talked about this a little, but I’ve also been continuing to think about it on my own. J has been asking for a Facebook account and I have consistently said no – a 9-year-old does not, IMO, need a Facebook account. Part of my reasoning is that J has enough trouble socializing in person – often he will misinterpret social cues, resulting in overreactions (on his part and on the part of the other kids), and the last thing he needs is to complicate that further by adding a virtual dimension.

    Thanks for posting this – I think it’s an important conversation to be having. It’s rare that I hear parents talk about how Facebook is helping their kids; mostly what I hear is discussions about how prevalent cyber bullying is. Sigh.

    • Absolutely agreed. Children, now more than ever, need more “face time” rather than more “online time.” I see this breakdown in social development every day, both in and out of my classroom. Nine is way too young for a FB account, IMO too, and aside from the social difficulties, it sure doesn’t help with spelling and grammar development, either!

      And it’s not just the kids whose social appropriateness is deteriorating – plenty of adults suffer from it, too!

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Rach!

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