This year sees the exit of the Big Brother cult with the final seriesof the programme finishing this summer. I for one am not too upset about it – so far, I have had no inclination to watch Celebrity Big Brother. But why is this? I would have been hooked into it two years ago. This has got me thinking!
I suppose I am bored with caring about what other people are doing – I log on to Facebook everyday keeping up to date with other people’s dramas! Facebook also provides me with a platform to enhance my own identity by joining groups and playing games and pretending to be a pirate. However, I have tried to avoiddoing this and therefore moulding an online identity as I feel this would make me vulnerable to getting offended should anyone criticise me for joining a group or commenting on my status detailing my life at that time. Rather, I prefer to concentrate on my internal identity to improve my self-worth rather than my self-image (or my external identity)!
The other reason I keep my interaction to a minimum on Facebook is my experience of seeing other people moaning constantly to seek some kind of sympathy and therefore approval from other Facebookers. This is where Facebook and Twitter has destroyed the popularity of Big Brother. Instead of enjoying the opportunity to criticise housemates on the screen to re-affirm our identities, people have now gone the other way and started seeking approval to enhance their egos. It is my opinion that people are now more than ever striving to be accepted into an online community. This hardly encourages self-improvement as people are moulding their external identities for them to ‘fit in’. At an emotional level, we are becoming reliant on what other people say of think about us for us to be content.
However, this phenomenon has been great for marketers and campaigners – Facebook and other social networking sites have been platforms for issues to be brought to the fore. Campaigners have used people’s lust for forming their online identities as a tool to recruit support for campaigns, thus improving society.
So, at an individual’s level, you could say that social networking detracts from self-improvement, but on a macro level, it has provided a way for new issues to be thrown into the public sphere. Itself a social paradox – self-improvement has given way to improving society. Whether this is for the better or not is yet to be realised! But in the meantime, I’ll stick to improving myself and keep questioning my values.