Point – Counterpoint: Social Networking

by: Chris Thompson

Just a couple of guys sitting on a couch, disagreeing over the substance of their digital lives….

point counterpoint

Point: Ok….I’m sending you a picture on Snapchat. It’ll disappear a few seconds after it arrives on your iPhone. It’s pretty wild.

Counterpoint: Whoa! That is wild. I never thought you could fit into your sister’s prom dress. Wait’ll I show the guys. Click.

Point: Wait! What the hell did you just do? Did you just take a screenshot of that pic? What gives? It was supposed to disappear and leave no record. I just wanted you to see it, not keep a photo of it. You’re not really going to show that to the guys are you?

Counterpoint: Already shared. Facebooked it. Twittered it. Instagramed it, too. Mike says “LOL.” Cal asked if you won Prom Queen. Hahaha….Cal’s sister says “Nice legs.”

Point: Hey man! Not cool. That’s not how this is supposed to work. The entire purpose of Snapchat is so you don’t get to keep the picture. It’s supposed to disappear.

Counterpoint: And yet, there it is, all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Ahhhh.…my Tumblr too. I forgot, I have this cool new app that posts to all my social feeds simultaneously. It’s an app for all my other apps. Man, what a day we live in! Isn’t that great? Pretty soon we’ll have one app to rule them all. You should download this app. It’s called MyPrecious. Hey….look at that! Our third grade English teacher Mrs. Markson liked the pic.

Point: Fuck this! I’m not having any fun at all.

Counterpoint: I’m having a blast. You should own this picture, man. Have any other pics that you want to share?

Point: I’m just going to hop onto Twitter and comment that the picture isn’t real. That’s it been photoshopped. That’ll put this to rest. There…..done.

Counterpoint: You bring up an interesting point. If something happens on social media did it really happen at all? I mean, what is a tweet really? Or a Facebook post? Is it something tangible? Can you describe what it looks like? How it feels? What has it ever brought you except an exceptional waste of time?

Point: Of course it’s real! It’s as real as a newspaper article or an essay in the New York Times. It’s right there on my feed, next to my latest Foursquare check-in and my newest Pinterest board filled with sexy X-Men cosplay characters. That’s why I’m so pissed. It’s throwing off my digital vibe. But by saying that someone photoshopped the picture, I’ll downplay its potential for harm with humor. No one will take the picture seriously after I do that….

Counterpoint: So you’re saying that tweets aren’t serious unless you explicitly state they are? And that they have no value if you take away their power with your words? What kind of digital currency is that? Seems to me like you are trying to engineer your online reality a bit too much. Isn’t social networking supposed to be a reflection of what you are currently up to? What you are thinking of or feeling? And isn’t it up to everyone else to decide how to interpret your words? Isn’t that the entire point of the word “social” in social networking?

Point: If my Twitter and Facebook feeds actually reflected my reality, no one would comment on them. My life isn’t as exciting as the one I portray online.  I want people to think I’m fun and exciting and adventurous. Isn’t that the entire point of all this digital interaction? To show the world how awesome of a time you are having? Even if it isn’t true….

Counterpoint: That’s one version of it. Although it seems to me like it’s a side that’s slanted towards the egotistical and vain. What’s wrong with being honest about yourself? I’d rather be real, boring and happy in my skin than fake and fabricating shit all the time. Aren’t you worried that all these half-truths and digital lies are gonna catch up with you? Don’t you want people to like you for who you are? For what you’ve accomplished?

Point: Facebook thinks I party every night and have the greatest life. Twitter thinks I have a successful side-business on Etsy selling Pendleton fabric throw pillows. And Instagram thinks that I dine out at all the best restaurants in New York City. Look at this pic I posted from last night! I grabbed it off someone else’s culinary blog. It says I had the Royal Miyagi Oysters at Momofuko’s Ssam Bar.

Counterpoint: Lies! It’s all lies man. Why are you so afraid to be yourself? How will you ever meet a nice girl? Settle down.  Share a connection, a life, with someone based on something that’s real, if you’re always hiding behind these personas?

Point: I meet plenty of girls online. Hundreds. I’ve got over five-thousand Facebook friends. I’m on Tinder and Match.com and Plenty of Fish and all the dating sites. You should see my profiles. I’m killing it over at those places.

Counterpoint: Yeah, that’s all great. But it seems to me like you’re living in a digital fantasy world. How many dates have you actually gone on? How many girls have you actually met face to face? Or had a conversation with that was more than one-hundred and forty characters long?

Point: None. But I’ve got such online game. I’m like the Don Juan of the digital superhighway. I’ve got girls “liking” and “swiping” and “upvoting” me left and right.

Counterpoint: Yeah, but this all goes back to my original question: Is any of this even real?

Point: Well….umm. I think, er….

Counterpoint: By the way….Cal’s sister just texted me again. She thinks you’re hot and wants to know if you want to go out.

Point: On a date? Like, for real?

Counterpoint: For real.

Point: I guess that picture you posted wasn’t all that bad after all. Let me just look at my Calendar app and check-in with my Clash of Titans clan and my Google “Fans of Bob’s Burgers” Hangouts schedule to see if I’m free….

Point: Jeez, man.

2 Comments

  • I just finished reading Point – Counterpoint: Social Networking & I really enjoyed it. I had resisted getting into social networking for the very reasons Chris Thompson wrote about in such an amusing, but true fashion. That being said, I came to the realization that I was becoming an old out of touch person and did not like it & have taken a number of steps to change. I have found that for me social networking has provided me with a simple & fun way to explore things & exchange ideas with people I find interesting. It is also an easy way for me to stay in touch with my geographically dispersed group of real live friends. I have become a convert.

    • Thanks for sharing William! It’s a truly remarkable time we live in, where those around us have become accessible in ways never imagined before. The fact that you have had your life enriched by these new avenues of communication shows how powerful of a tool they are, and continue to be. Happy social networking! – Chris

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