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Entitlement in the Online Era

Ok so I have something I want to talk about today. It has been something that I have been thinking about for a while now but not something that I thought I was able to put into words. Today I am going to try. Just bare with me guys.

So let’s talk about social media. In particular Facebook. Maybe that is the platform that lead you to read my post today. Maybe not. Actually increasingly it is more likely that it is not. You see Facebook has made some changes that impact how an audience views information published from a page, and decreased this visibility of shared external links on Facebook.

From my perspective, this makes me upset, maybe a little angry, as I work hard to create content that I think people will like and enjoy. Content that I think people will engage with. But it feels sometimes like Facebook is not giving me the chance to share it.

But what I am am wondering is, where the hell did I get such a sense of entitlement that makes me think Facebook owes me and my work anything?

Entitlement in the Online EraThat’s what I want to talk about today. We talk about social media as being so ingrained in our existence. The constant need for external gratification. The need to share everything and be connected constantly. We talk about the impact of this on our social encounters and our true relationships. The effects of social media on our mental health is now in the forefront of our minds.

But is this the fault of social media itself? Hmm I don’t think so.

Just because it has become the social norm to have a social media profile, an online identity, it doesn’t mean it is a requirement. It is always a choice, just the same as you make a choice to between a Samsung and an iPhone, or god forbid, to not have a mobile phone at all.

What caught me the most about the current privacy scandal surrounding Facebook at the moment is the sense of entitlement people felt towards Facebook. To what is a just a product.

Scandal aside, it has forced people to take a look at the kind of information they are actually sharing online. Turns out it is just about everything. And maybe the realisation has only just come now, but when we share so much of ourselves online, it should come as no surprise that this information may be used.

Has anyone seen the movie The Circle with Emma Watson? Terrifying. And totally our future.

As users we have a responsibility as to how we choose to use the products and platforms that are available to us. Facebook does not owe us anything. They at their core are a business, and the decisions they make will seek to benefit the business. Will it annoy a few people in the process? Yes, always. As a society we have a huge issue with change management. We like things to stay the same, it’s comfortable. We also like to choose to remain ignorant about what it all means within the greater view.

I don’t actively use Facebook as a place to share. I use it for the following three things:

  • Messenger
  • Managing the Eight Forest Lane page
  • Learning and engagement through targeted groups

These things have stopped me from joining the masses deleting their pages in the wake of the privacy saga. I do also like it for news on occasion, but I know I could source that elsewhere so it’s not a big deal, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t handy within the one app.

So with how I currently use Facebook, I am actually doing what Zuckerberg had in mind. I am communicating with my friends and family, I am forming relationships and I am engaging in communities. And maybe it isn’t always how I want it to be, but it is not my product, I choose to use Facebook so I need to understand that there are always going to be things that I do not like – that I am not in control of.

Just like I needed to get on board with a new connector for my earphones when I bought my iPhone 7+. I could either stick with having an iPhone and accept their changes even though I might not agree, or I could change. Buy a different phone.

The point is that we have a choice in our actions. Rather than just complain about having to have a different set of earphones to plug into my laptop and my phone, I decided I would just deal with it. The same goes for social media and Facebook. If it annoys you enough to complain about then maybe it is time to move on. Otherwise, just understand the changes, understand the product and decide if you are willing to accept it. Do the benefits outweigh your negatives?

And at the end of the day. Is any social media really better than another? I use Instagram more than anything else. But there are huge negatives such as the mindless, never ending scroll, the comparisons, and the fact that I am now not seeing posts chronologically. But what I love more than this is the excess of creative inspiration I get in my feed. The accounts I choose to follow do not inspire negativity and it becomes a place I really enjoy sharing and engaging. Also I really like pretty photos.

Entitlement in the Online EraSo what I think my point here is. We need to be accountable for how we choose to use social media. We need to understand that even though it is a platform made up of millions of users, it is still at its core a business and the goal will always be to make money. Facebook does not owe us anything, they control the information you give them – you agree to that when you create your account. In saying that, has anyone read the terms and conditions when signing into Facebook? I created mine in 2007 – I certainly didn’t. It was just something everyone else was doing at the time.

I am so glad I had graduated from high school before Facebook was a thing (also, this comment makes me feel old. Is Gen Y still considered a millennial?? I can’t keep up). I think there is just so much responsibility and understanding that needs to be had around it. How to appropriately use social media is still something that people are learning. And something people are still getting very wrong.

I am seeing a generational shift with Gen Y/Millennials resisting social media and the online identity but the issue remains that we don’t know what the world looks like without it. This is where the problem lies. To remove Facebook would mean we focus our attention on the next new platform. We have a societal need to stay connected and until that mindset shifts, then deleting Facebook will not actually achieve anything.

Society tells us that we will seek online gratification, connectedness, and identity somewhere else.

So are we just doomed to play the game that the product makers want us to? Maybe. But I think if we can work on how we consciously use social media, then that is a start. The beginning is a shift in our understanding. There are some really amazing things about social media, and the power of Facebook is hard to deny. So if we remove our emotional link, our sense of ownership and entitlement, then maybe it can be a new era of what it means to be social online.

I know you probably have some thoughts an opinions too on this topic, so please share in the comments below.

Sally x

Photos in this post from Unsplash by ALP STUDIO & rawpixel.com 

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