Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?, by Stephen Marche, The Atlantic, May 2012
"Jaron Lanier, the author of You Are Not a Gadget, was one of the inventors of virtual-reality technology. His view of where social media are taking us reads like dystopian science fiction: “I fear that we are beginning to design ourselves to suit digital models of us, and I worry about a leaching of empathy and humanity in that process.”It wasn't Marche's lonliness argument that interested me so much as his point that "Facebook imprisons us in the business of self-presenting." Facebook does seem to foster, and to reward, exhibitionism.
Lanier argues that Facebook imprisons us in the business of self-presenting, and this, to his mind, is the site’s crucial and fatally unacceptable downside.
Lanier and Turkle are right, at least in their diagnoses. Self-presentation on Facebook is continuous, intensely mediated, and possessed of a phony nonchalance that eliminates even the potential for spontaneity. (“Look how casually I threw up these three photos from the party at which I took 300 photos!”)
Curating the exhibition of the self has become a 24/7 occupation. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the Australian study “Who Uses Facebook?” found a significant correlation between Facebook use and narcissism: “Facebook users have higher levels of total narcissism, exhibitionism, and leadership than Facebook nonusers,” the study’s authors wrote. “In fact, it could be argued that Facebook specifically gratifies the narcissistic individual’s need to engage in self-promoting and superficial behavior.”