Are Multiple Communication Outlets Always Good?

25Mar10

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and for some reason, I started thinking about my return to Facebook. As previously stated, I deactivated my profile and challenged myself to a break from Facebook. I gave myself a tentative return date of 1 month (March 14) and then extended that to April 1. Well, that’s right around the corner and to be honest, I don’t want to reactivate my profile. I’m worried I’m going to fall right back into the same pattern again. You know- constantly checking my news feed, visiting my crush’s page constantly to see if any gals commented on his page or where he was leaving comments (for the record, I don’t really have a crush right now). The Facebook iPhone app puts it all at my fingertips. I can get a jolt of happiness or despair with just one tap of my finger. To be honest, I don’t like it.

My middle of the night thought process led to thinking about how things would have been different in high school if Facebook was around then. I remember the Facebook craze beginning to take off just as I was exiting college. Myspace was more popular at the time but Facebook was intriguing because you needed a .edu email address to sign up for the site. I understand that eliminating that aspect of the site opened it to more people, but I think it also opened a pandoras box of a plethora of other problems.

Let’s all take a second and look back at our teenage years, shall we? I remember 13-17 (my high school years) being a very transitional and confusing time. There’s another word I would use to describe it but I’m going to drop it on you a little later in this post. I wasn’t a part of the popular crew or the outcasts in school. I fell somewhere in the middle and I got along with just about everyone. But I remember getting sad when I’d hear about what people did over the weekend because I wasn’t included. It would especially hurt when it was my close friends who would be discussing their fun, eventful Saturday night. When stuff like that happened, I would feel hurt, alone, and- here’s that word- ISOLATED. It was as if I was all alone on an island while my friends were off having fun. It is my theory friends, that this feeling of isolation is multiplied in the age of Facebook, texting, etc…

Back then, your friends had one way of reaching you: phone. No, not cell phone. Landline phone. As in, your parents or siblings answer and yell “Jenny!!! Phone!!!” when a friend called you. There was AIM later on in my high school life and even then, not everyone was on it. Today, teenagers can be reached via cell phone, text, email, Facebook, AIM, MySpace, gchat, Twitter, etc… If you overhear in homeroom on Monday morning that Lisa & Sara (your 2 best friends) were out together on Saturday night and you weren’t invited, you start to feel hurt. Why wasn’t I invited? Are they mad at me? What did I do? You start to question and analyze the situation because you weren’t invited. It’s not like they didn’t just not call you. They didn’t call or text or message you on Facebook or ping your Blackberry or tweet you or…. It’s like each communication outlet they didn’t use is an extra bullet wound to your ego. As the number of ways to communicate increases, the isolation/hurt/loneliness also increases.

I remember reading or hearing Greg Behrendt say something along the lines of how back in the day, if you had a date with a guy and he didn’t show up or send a carrier pigeon to cancel, he was an asshole. Plain and simple- an asshole. You let it hurt for a second and then you moved one. But today, if a guy doesn’t show up (or ditches you, like what happened to me a few months back), you wait around for him to contact you somehow because there’s a million different ways he can get in touch with you. The pain gets dragged out. He doesn’t call you- ouch. He doesn’t text you- ouch. He doesn’t Facebook you- owwww ouch. He doesn’t email you- owowowowow ouch. They all hurt and sometimes it hurts a little more knowing that he could contact you so many ways but chooses not too. You’re back on isolation island: population 1 (Captain Morgan doesn’t count as a person in this case).

I’m happy to say that isolation island doesn’t hurt as much as at 25 as it did at 17. Because of my past experiences, I’m the kinda gal who gets inspired and motivated when someone does me wrong. I take chances (the good kind) and try to make my life better. I see the big picture and know that living life to the fullest is the best option for me. Isolation Island is just a layover on the way to Fabulous Gal Continent. But at 17, I know that mindset doesn’t often exist. I remember hearing somewhere that the reason why teen pregnancy, suicide, underage drinking, etc… are so prevalent is because until you’re about 21, you’re unable to fully see the outcome of your actions. When you’re ditched at 17 you probably feel like you’re going to be trapped on isolation island forever. There’s no way off of it so you don’t care what you do (drink, start fights, spread rumors, etc…). Oh and you know what makes those rumors spread even faster than before??? Facebook, texting, Twitter, etc… We’re letting children and teens have access to these multiple forms of communication where they sometimes don’t realize they’re talking to another person and the person on the other end is real- not just a profile.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see the benefit of Social Media. I see the benefit at 25 as a college grad with a marketing¬† degree. At 17, I probably would have described it as “like, you know, a really cool way to talk to my friends and stuff”. I feel sorry for teenagers today because of all the different forms of communication available. The teenage years are already a confusing and isolating time and now, thrown into the mix, are all these different outlets that sometimes just increase that feeling of isolation. Parents, teachers, schools, etc… have to take a stand and monitor communication outlets because I have a feeling that if we don’t, the whole thing will backfire on us.

Here’s some related links:

‘Text Rage’ May Have Sparked Teen Violence

Are Some Teens Addicted to Facebook?

Long Island teen’s suicide linked to cruel cyberbullies, formspring.me site: police

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