Sandra Tsing Loh on Social Media Affective Disorder.
Does it sometimes seem like "social media" is neither?
That is, it isn't really media and it isn't really social?
My friend Carol and I were talking about this the other day. In fact, we were walking and talking. It's a new thing we're trying to do called "talking to one person at a time" in a place some refer to as "outdoors." We're both work-at-home writers trying to temper some bad social media habits.
Carol was saying: "I think I'm suffering from SMAD."
"What's that?" I say.
"Oh! I thought I sent you the link. It's short for Social Media Affective Disorder. It's when social media makes you feel sick."
Carol is stuck on a book proposal. So, she's spending a lot of time on Facebook. There, it seems, all of her friends have just published books, which they're continually posting updates about.
"So, by rights I have to LIKE everything," she says, "like, like, like. But, to be truthful, the last thing I need to hear about are my friends' successes. They should invent a new app for blocked writers called not Facebook but 'Safebook' - only cat photos allowed. The fault is mine. I just don't like anything right now. I don't like my haircut, I don't like my neighbors, I don't like the boy my daughter's dating, I don't like - "
Carol goes on to detail hypocrisies of the eco-movement, various politicians, the crappy interface of her new iPhone 5 -
Instead of "liking" things, it sounds like she'd be better off on a firing range.
"Perhaps not Facebook but online war gaming is for you," I say. "I myself try to be a good social media citizen, the mayor of my own LikeyTown, as I call it - But, what I don't get is requests to 'like' a page. What does that even mean? I have people I don't know asking me to like the page of a sports event taking place in Talahassee, Florida, where I do not live."
"You have Facebook friends you don't know?" she says.
"Regrettably yes," I say. "I tend to accept all friend requests except for ones from like Cantor's Deli because I'm afraid that, ah... A pastrami sandwich will start inviting me to its poetry readings. One woman I don't know started 12 new pages in one month, and she asked me to like every one! I don't even talk to my sister that often and we are really close! This rampant Facebook 'page like' requesting allows people to ignore the standard rules of real social interaction. Worse, it telegraphs vividly to strangers how you're sitting home alone going crazy.
"Wait," she said, "let me tweet that."
Next week: Twitter FEED or Twitter DRAIN?