What are the advances in technology/social media doing to our psyches?

“It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.”

The quote above is from the Zork series. Zork was one of the first “interactive fiction video games”, or text adventures. Upon starting the game you, the player, are greeted with a black screen and the words,

West of House

You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.

The mechanics of these text adventures involved typing short commands. If you wanted to open the mailbox, all you had to do was type: “open mailbox”. Text adventures were as simple as that, they had a strict set of rules and relied heavily on imagination.

At the risk of seeming extremely pretentious I’m going to quote myself (this is a link to the post I wrote that was mentioned in class),

“I realized that the games I grew up with coddled me. They showered me with options, showed me different paths to finish the same level and let me play the game at my own pace.”

As I re-read this, it made me realize that something got lost within all the technological advances our generation has seen. As video games become more life like, I fear that the new generation of gamers will lack an imagination.

And it seems that this idea of things “getting lost in the shuffle” can apply to New Media as well. It can be said that Facebook, and all social media, is slowly changing how people communicate. As others have stated on this blog, the ability to simply “like” something on Facebook makes it easier for us, as users, to validate others and in turn be validated ourselves. Because we can say whatever we need to say through Facebook it, essentially, takes away our need to speak with others in person.

With the ability to post links, pictures, notes (Facebook’s version of a blog post), and comments on our profiles as well as others, the “like” function streamlines that experience. While status updates are never on the downturn, the ratio of “likes” to comments could be 5:1. Ultimately, this disconnects us even further from each other as people and from our own identity.

Facebook, obviously, has it’s own set of social norms. By putting ourselves into its system, we’re essentially dumbing ourselves down for others. Through Facebook, we’re putting ourselves in a funnel to cater to other people. While we can post our own personal thoughts and feelings on our profiles, we are doing so within Mark Zuckerberg’s set of rules and regulations.

I wonder what this is doing to our individuality and creativity. By siphoning ourselves through Facebook, our personalities are getting lost within its world. At times, it seems there is nothing that differentiates one profile from the next, other than the profile picture.

Using the growth of video games helps me understand this, while gamers are losing their imagination we, as Facebook users, are losing ourselves. Even though all of this sounds pretty bleak, the positives of social media can’t be ignored. But it’s up to us, the users, to manage our online presence.

Paul Masbad.


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