The irony of social media

As someone who once prided themselves on 'discovering' and being a part of the newest technology available, as soon as it was available, social media is one of those things I have grown up using.

Having a dad who is heavily into computers meant I was using them at quite a young age and using them as a way to be social is second nature, from my foray into chat rooms, taking part in conversations with people that may or may not one day feature on 'To catch a predator', to  message boards to diary sites like Xanga, you name it I probably still have an account on there.

Coming from heavily using these sites at a time where I would almost feeling embarrassed by it in general company, to now living in a society where it's looked upon as odd to not be on at least one social networking site, has left me in a position where I'm beginning to analyse my usage of these websites, and coupled with my background in Psychology - I can't help but wonder how these interactions are shaping us and what we're gaining from it.

Currently a new social media site seems to pop up every 5 minutes, instead of being quick to join I now feel the weight of past sites I've joined calling me to question why the hell I need to add a new password and login to my memory bank. Not being so easily swayed to join newer sites makes me begin to question the ones I am using at the moment.

Subjects like this have been done to death, with scientists tentatively explaining how 'notifications' act as a drug, giving us a feeling of pleasure which then causes us to repeat the behaviour to get said feeling of pleasure again, thus the cycle begins. We are being told that the way we are using this technology is causing us to have shorter attention spans and they're changing the way we communicate in 'real-life'.

It's not hard to see the affect this has had on our lives. Go out to dinner with your friends, sit down at the table and one of the first things you'll see is everyone do is put their phone on the table ... and every iPhone user knows that they offend St Steve Jobs if they dare to sit down to a meal without taking a picture first.

I don't really want to talk about that, I don't have Instagram as I own a Blackberry (a serious mistake), although I definitely understand the appeal of the website, as a long time user of websites such as and now - filters and editing images (with little Photoshop knowledge) has always been a fun past-time. It's obvious the way it's put a barrier up between actually experiencing something in the moment instead of taking a picture/tweeting to experience it later with your followers.

It is weird how society is gradually changing in that way and in that sense I'd like to talk about the growing trend of nude blogs, specifically on Tumblr. When it was first announced that Yahoo had bought Tumblr, one of the main questions was; "BuT wHat Of ThE PoRn BlOgS??!!". Most readers of these articles and even most Tumblr users appeared to be surprised to hear of this thriving community of Penis's and Vaginas', but within it's clean aesthetic and pictures of townhouses and rainbows are many a gif and image that you pray to God are tagged with NSFW as you browse in 'safe mode' sat in your office.

Sex is prevalent on Tumblr and the site has seen an emergence of various sex blogs created by the average Joe or Jane, staying anonymous, they provide a more 'normal' side to the world of porn but also from a very intimate view point. Most popular among these sites are the couples blogs who share their sex lives with their followers through stories, photos, videos and gifs. These sites are like catnip to our Big Brother generation who could seriously put 'Lurking' under a key skill on our CV's. It's something like not being able to look away from a car crash, not because it's a negative thing but because they're sharing such private acts that we wonder whether should we be privy to.

It's the actual act of taking a picture during sex that baffles me. It's one of the rawest acts humans partake it, within a society where we are ever so conscious of our every move and thought, sex breaks that mold and more natural aspects take over, taste, touch - you're able to let go. So during these moments, I wonder at what point does the camera get pulled out? Do you begin to perform for the camera and in turn the audience who you know will be viewing the images/video later? The irony being that during a moment of such social intimacy you're not actually there in the moment experiencing it. Does the quality of the experience then slightly become dependent on how many 'reblogs' and 'likes' the picture receives?

With generic porn, somewhere in our heads we are aware that at one point the director called 'cut', but with these images it's the idea of real intimacy that makes them more interesting to view... but in the way that it's  now more common to watch concerts through a mobile phone screens rather than with our own eyes, I wonder if social media is again infiltrating intimate experiences in a way that takes away from how special the act is in itself - even if it is a one time thing to never be seen again.

Don't get me wrong, I see the appeal of the sites, and the majority tend to be body positive and fairly arty, but living presently and not for future rewards is something I'd like to see more of. I feel like our current use of social media has begun using us.

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