As our Media Studies class for B-Tech has us pretty elbow deep in social networks, I have used my own experience of being online (both educational and private) to compile the 10 most unexpected consequences of exactly that:
1. Being online is like entering into a new dimension – it consumes you. You forget about everything else. You forget about the real world and as opposed to living in it (the world) you become a critique of it. Your hands-on experience falls by the way side and is replaced by a new life, one created in a space where your world is determined only by text on a screen.
2. Being online is like being listed on a high school registry – anyone and everyone you DON’T want to be in contact with finds you.
3. Being online is like being in the celebrity section of a glossy magazine – people who don’t know you anymore, nor have ever met you, feel compelled to engage in gossip criticizing you publicly on a global network so enormous you just can’t miss it (the problem here is that nobody else misses what’s said either).
4. Being online is like being told for the first time that there really is no Santa Clause – people are actually free to share their honest opinions and these may not always be quite what you were hoping for, nor always what you want to hear.
5. Being online is like heading a society for people who have no direct influence in your life - yes you make friends but are they of any real significance to you? I mean hello…they exist only in cyberspace. Good luck planning a road trip/taking a photograph of/or simply being with people you never meet. P.S. That person you’ve committed your every evening online to – is an axe murderer/has a husband or wife/is only 12 years old/runs a trafficking racket/couldn’t make it in the real world.
6. Being online is like being popular – yes you have ten trillion friends following you on myspace/Facebook/Blueworld/website/blog/LinkedIn/etc but guess what? No one really cares. P.S. All those 'friends' you love to brag about don’t care about you either.
7. Being online is like living in the Victorian era – people are shocked to learn that your personality runs deeper than the square, well-behaved and polite person you are expected to be when at school/at varsity/at work, not realizing that it is not being ‘online’ that changes you but it is being online that provides you with an opportunity to share what really defines you – something apparently forbidden otherwise. These people are idiots; post something extravagant to really get them talking.
8. Being online is like taking candy from a stranger – it encourages you to participate through all of the ‘possibilities’ as promised by being online…and once you take the first bite it’s not very easy to walk away from.
9. Being online is like not having a life – eventually you will become a social network stalker. It will happen. And it is pathetic.
10. Being online is like being friends with the Grim Reaper - you give away a little piece of your soul every time you make something of yourself public.