Soapbox – Social Notworking

 
 

The never-ending torrent of photographs on social networking websites is becoming tedious, writes Caitríona O’Malley


Annoyingly, in this world of no privacy, photographs are increasingly being seized by the sleazy, clambering mitts of social networking websites. Infuriatingly, no occasion can be kept from public view any more.

This is patently and nauseatingly obvious on Facebook in particular. Upon logging on, you are pelted with a ceaseless procession of invariably tacky pictures, chronicling every event imaginable. Fixed smiles cascade across homepages as people are eager to smother others with evidence of their existences. As earth-shatteringly exciting as the minutiae of someone else’s sun holiday is, tolerance has a limit, and the threads of sanity can snap.

To this writer’s chagrin, there is a subgroup of people who are apparently incapable of stepping outside their front door without frantically searching for a camera to preserve the moment and splash it online, no doubt for the immense pleasure that can be obtained from gazing at dozens of snaps of one’s face preening into a lens. A tip for such narcissists: no one is as intently fascinated by you as you are. To quote Tyler Durden (oh, the achingly trendy pop cultural awareness of it all!), you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Of course, there is endless entertainment in pulling a stupid face in a group photo on a night out. However, having that picture thrust on you online the next day is just irritating and embarrassing. Also, these nocturnal snapshots can occasionally resemble mug shots of stars caught embroiled in debauchery, or heroin users in the latter stages of addiction. Most definitely not flattering.

The haze of a camera’s glare can be intoxicating, but being dragged into photographs solely so that someone can spill them on social websites is creepy and meaningless, not to mention hollow.

If this writer wanted others to know the intricacies of her social life, she would inform them, thank you very much.

Facebook, naturally, does not care about the sentimentality attached to photographs. It merely facilitates the cold labelling, or ‘tagging’, of people. This is another disturbing and unpleasant element to online photos: it is so invasive, so determined to make your every movement public knowledge, and creates a sense of being tracked, like a microchipped squirrel. Aren’t cattle also tagged? These pictures loom from homepages, for any eye to scrutinise, and the constant availability of them is what makes them so charmless.

The worst thing is that, with this ease of publication, photographs are losing the intimacy that makes them so special: the privacy of an ageing photo album. It is high time to reclaim the traditional, and to cry a resounding ‘pah’ in the leering face of the culture of social website photographs.

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