Break is a time for reconnecting with old friends one has been separated from by the cruel forces of colleges in other cities. It is for catching up, meeting up, and making time for the old high school gang. Of course, this gathering is probably less absolutely vital since the advent of social media; I can keep track of Emily, Clayton, and Jen from my own computer every day I’m in Ann Arbor. And for this I am thankful. New media is excellent for staying connected (Thanks Captain Obvious). But it is also excellent for pettiness, gossip, and fighting.
In my new media essay, I talked about how new media enables a constant stream of conversation, and how that would be great, except sometimes the conversation isn’t worth having; like when a whole bunch of commenters use the space under a kitten video on YouTube to hate on Justin Beiber. I don’t like Justin much myself, but seriously guys, his fans should not all be shot along with everyone who clicked the “Dislike” button. As much as those conversations frustrate me, they are nothing compared to drama created online by people I actually know.
For example, one friend, who shall remain anonymous, told me that she uses her Twitter account to talk about how she really feels; stuff she can’t put on Facebook. I would love to explore the norms that have evolved around which statuses belong on Facebook, and which make better Tweets, but for now I’ll stay on topic. She has been having a conflict with another girl who is a follower of her Twitter. So Girl 2 can see everything Girl 1 posts about her, all in the spirit of catharsis. Why does my first friend feel the need to express her annoyance with people on Twitter? Why does the Internet need to know? (Asked the girl currently writing a blog post about her high school friend drama)
These same friends had an all out battle on Google Plus a few months ago, like full on Cyberbully nonsense. Foursquare, that inexplicable Smartphone mechanism which allows you to “check in” to various locations (so people can track your every move?) has also played into their fights. When one girl claimed to feel ill to avoid seeing the other, she checked into places on Foursquare, contradicting her earlier assertion that she was staying home. When these two make up, Facebook is full of back and forth Wall Posts saying “I HEART YOU BEST FRIEND” and such.
Why am I chronicling such utter nonsense? Well, honestly, because I’m frustrated, and like Girl 1, I feel better when I put my frustrations on the Internet (Someone should study this. Seriously.) and I know neither of my friends are likely to stumble upon this particular corner of WordPress. Also, I think examining what new media is being used for, and the new ways people can fight, and express themselves, is interesting. Before all of this media, would my friends even be fighting? Probably. But maybe they would have to confront each other head on, rather than resorting to the cloak and dagger dance of social media.