Social Media, Explained



Myspace is your best friend from high school who started smoking a lot of weed and listening to dark music your junior year. (I mean #dark.) You guys were total BFFs— 4EAE, if you recall— when she wore normal clothes and just wanted to go to Jamba Juice together. Then she became all about poorly lit scene parties in rank basements and tattoos she can’t remember the next day.

You’re in college now and don’t know what happened to her. One day over summer break you decide you miss her and look her up—then you see the vast wasteland her life has become. She makes the pucker face in photos and it doesn’t even look slutty, it looks sad. She’s covered in bad ink and has a septum piercing that might be leaking pus. She’s wearing an expression that’s more akin to a 1000-yard stare than the bright, excited face you remember. All her friends are terrible. She’s terrible. You put her on the “con” list when deciding whether to go to your 10-year reunion or not. (You ultimately do, and she’s still terrible.)


That nerdy kid from Debate with the stutter is doing real well for himself. You hear he got kind of ripped, joined a frat (well, a business frat) and is really, really into networking now. As in, he’ll hand you his business card after shaking your hand, and you went to eighth-grade prom together.

Do you want to be in his professional network? Do you want to see all the amazing internships he has, all the important connections he’s made, those glowing recommendations from employers that scream “perfect employee” in all-caps? Do you want to check out his Twitter feed, and network there, too? Do you want to reconnect? No, you don’t. That sounds like just about the worst thing in the world.

But two days later you get an “invitation” from him and you accept.


Facebook is the Good Guy Greg of online interactions. Facebook just wants to have a good time! Check out these pictures from Olivia’s trip to Spain! Dude! Jeff just won $50 in the lottery! Isn’t that sweet? Let’s poke, bro! Let’s chat!

Did you know that at this very moment, and most likely for the rest of your life, Facebook is mining and storing information on every click you make? This is why it’s so popular- Facebook is the constant observer, a master of watching people at work. They know who’s who and what’s what. You’re still obsessed with that crush from camp and Facebook can see it in your eyes. You hate everything about Natalie, and Facebook knows this, too. You don’t have to say a word. Facebook just looks into your eyes and knows your life story. And they’ll never mention Natalie around you, and they’ll casually drop a bit of news about that camp crush sometimes, and it’s uplifting and perfect and weirdly manipulative. But it works, because you need Facebook like a drug. You need its energy in your life, even when you know how bad it can be.

Is Facebook just about popularity and “likes,” or is Facebook trying to be a genuinely positive force in your life? Is Facebook really that innocent? How can anyone that good be?


New kid’s on the block and he’s rocking his guitar at volume 12. Did you get invited to his move-in party? I heard Jack White’s gonna be there, I heard all your friends are there already, I just saw the pictures on Picasa. They’ve having a video hangout as we speak.

The cute thing about Google+ is that they think they’re all hip because not just anyone can get in. That’s such a blatant lie! It may have worked for Gmail, but fool me once, I hate you forever. We see through that kind of stuff now. And who has the energy for this new friend, especially when they know nobody in town and might be kind of… off? Who knows, maybe Google+ will be the life of the party. Maybe they’ll usurp Facebook at the head of the cool kids’ table. At this point, you’ve already resigned yourself to all this, and it’ll just happen or not and you’ll see. Or you could quit it all and be free. But where’s the fun in that?

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