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The Living Room Me and society Social Networks - a Cause of Unhappiness?
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Social Networks - a Cause of Unhappiness?
Yesterday I was at a party which was organized by some people at my university. Like always I just went around and randomly chatted with people preferably the ones that I did not know. One of those was a very friendly guy who was constantly watching/observing a young women. Well after several minutes I finally asked him why he did not go over and talk to her (she did not look that intimidating to me). He looked at me in puzzlement asking whether I knew who she was. Well I sincerely answered that I had no idea.

He then took out his Smartphone, went to Facebook, typed in a name and gave the phone to me. Only then did I understand why the poor chap was so intimidated – the girl turned out to be a model, a singer and had enough face book friends to populate a small town. Afterwards he went on lamenting how all the other college students had a great time on campus and that he was seemingly the only one missing out on things. I asked him how he came to this conclusion.  He then took out his Smartphone again, went to face book, typed in a name and started showing me Facebook profiles. Some of the people he showed me were his co students – they had tons of pictures of themselves, friends or parties etc. – and yes they all seemed to have a pretty good time. With every profile we viewed the guy seemed to become increasingly more depressed.

Now I will be frank with you. I am no fan of uploading one’s life on the internet. Still I have accepted that social networks are a necessary and sometimes useful evil which can no longer be amputated from our lives.

After the incident described above I nevertheless started asking myself whether social networks can cause unhappiness. Envy is one of the basic human emotions and even the best of us are not immune to it. Still, 50 years ago we only could envy people we really knew or perhaps the few that we saw on TV. Now we can envy the entire world if we so desire – just go to Facebook it is an Envy-All-You-Can-Eat.
I still don't have as many followers on twitter as Kanye West. I don't have as many friends on facebook as my 50 year old aunt. I don't have a project on kickstarter that has been funded 500,000 dollars in twenty days. No amazing photo albums or articles that have been linked to more than once. According to the internet, I am less successful than a squirrel on water-skies. Mini-water-skies no less. Now maybe if I went water-skiing in a squirrel outfit I would approach some degree of popularity but even so I doubt people would get the irony. I'm Andy Ollove, just another anonymous internet-user. 

There is some peace in knowing that only a small portion of the world has a moderately identifiable presence on the internet and I rank happily in the bottom, away from the persecution. It's sort of the same way I figured that my man-member is average size, by comparing it to all them greek statues at the museums. The internet more or less proves that I fall right in the middle of the bell-curve. And it's not so much a bad place to be, safe among the masses. 

The internet can be something of a harrowing world, but for that matter, the real world can be pretty harrowing too. The only thing that's different with the internet is now you can peek into so many different households and they all seem a little more tempting than our own. Like damn, I should be that dude with his macbook because he makes his life seem so much radder than mine. But, really, he's still just a dude at a keyboard. 

oh man, I forgot I was writing this. I was off looking at a blog and was thinking man, I can do that.

Anyways, I'm pretty sure there is a disconnect between the way people present themselves on the internet and the way they really are. I'll research this and get back to you. As of yet, it is unverified. 
I believe that Andy is quite right in saying that people are different in reality from the way they present themselves on the internet and especially on FB where it is a known fact that the person must show themselves as happy , friendly and as “fun person” as they can be in order to attract the “fun” elements of life. Your story Jura, is a good example for that. If your guy had a thousand friends, pictures that show he’s a fun and successful guy, he would have had a “suitable CV” to approach the girl.
So I suppose that you’re right in a way about FB, and it being a place to show yourself off and therefore a source of unhappiness for half of the world envying the other half. However, this is only if you consider this social network as a representative of truth and of the real person behind the profile. I believe that most people know that it is not a representative of truth and therefore don't envy the others so much (though your story is an example of the contrary case).
Another question: what is the effect of the social network on yourself, which is not related to envying the others, but in how you feel personally.
If you consider the social network as a presentation of yourself which aims to attract and represent you as “successful” in the world- this in order to bring more “success” and opportunities into your life, then this social network is, in fact, a tool. It is a tool that enables you to fake completely or partly your CV which obviously can open many doors. Thus it could be seen as a source of happiness in a way.
Unfortunately, anyone with some sense will be aware of the lie, and is then faced with the gulf between who he is and who he wants to be, or simply the feeling of being a pathetic person, so poor that he has to invent and "improve" his image. This can be very depressing and definitely a source of unhappiness.
When a writer encounters a situation in which he or she must use an indefinite third person singular pronoun, he or she should write: he or she; her or him; his or hers, etc.  

I'm not a writer, so I never have this problem.  But if I were a writer, I'd use he or she, hers or his, him or her.  It only takes a few key strokes to do it. 

I know it's a clunky solution, but it works.  It honors both sexes and gives the impression that the writer is trying to be inclusive.

When the painter is finished, he or she puts down his or her brush.  It sucks.  I know. But it's not bad.
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Latest Post: December 30, 2010 at 9:57 PM
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