The ‘Virtual’ Future of Social Media

Facebook has half of one billion members, which is a crazy concept to me. Especially considering that just as recently as half our lives ago (us kids, anyway), something along the lines of this concept would be hard to imagine, let alone 20 years ago, or 30. All this connectedness and all these social media platforms raise a lot of questions, and there’s certainly a lot to be said about social media-does it bring people closer together or does it further remove people from actual interaction, is it a huge waste of time or can you do more productive things with it than finding out what your friends are up to etc.¬†Whichever side you’re on it is impossible to deny the popularity and interest in social media, and the influence that these technologies have in our every day lives is just as ubiquitous. For instance, we have a whole class here at SUNY Geneseo about just this sort of thing-and we’re not the only ones. There is also a pretty consistent stream of articles written, on paper or on the internet-such as the one Becca shared from the New Yorker last week-that deal with ideas such as these. I think both sides have a point to be made, and everything can be good (or bad) depending on the moderation. There’s no doubt that technology, these social media devices included, can do wonderful, amazing things. They also simultaneously are changing certain social scripts that people have been used to, and maybe that’s part of the retraction or at least skepticism for the group of naysayers, because after all change can be scary as it brings into light a lot of un-known results and sometimes problems. Anyway, many people think that Facebook may be on the decline, despite its steady increase in membership since it’s inception. Recently Facebook, which has been purchasing multi-media apps and programs like you read about in order to continue to deliver current and various ways to attract new members (and keep old ones from getting bored)-acquired the virtual reality company Oculus for 2 billion dollars. While the purchase indicates pretty clearly where the company will be taking the site in the near future, it has spoken volumes to many disapproving imaginations, and disappointed gamers. Oculus used to be a company that worked on furthering research into virtual reality video games, but now that Facebook has merged with them, there has been a lot of backlash on the internet and hate towards this company. Some of the reasons being that Facebook is only interested in its total membership number, which is why certain companies and developers have refused to work with them in the past, and others accuse Zuckerberg of just finding new ways to hurl adds at people, potentially quite literally now. Zuckerberg says that this is going to mean a beautiful new way of connecting with people, and a totally new kind of way to share experiences with people (there are those damn words again; share! connect!). While the internet community has accused Facebook of things like souless-ness and big time capitalism and invading peoples’ privacies, the chief concern for the video game subculture it appears, who merely want to be able to enjoy solitude from time ti time (completely understandable), and I understand a lot of these arguments, I can’t say that I’m not curious. I think there’s a lot of potential, but then there’s the part of me that also says what is this going to do personal interaction? As we mentioned earlier this semester, people used to think the telephone would spell the end for face-to-face communication, and I can’t help but see a similarity in the debate surrounding this most recent social media related news bite. Why not, instead of virtually exploring a city or virtually climbing a mountain with someone, actually doing those things? Or maybe there’s room for both…I will bite my tongue and wait for time to tell since this is a recently new (one week old news) story. But I will lastly Include a funny photo I found on Reddit, which the users of have been particularly vocal in their disapproval of the merger, that resembles a lot of commentary one could find on there. After the news broke, the site was flooded with graphics like these. So if you’re interested in hearing a lot of peoples opinions, Reddit is a good sample space. This image brought to you via a Redditor slightly shopping a classic still from an old “Simpson’s” episode. You guys remember the game FarmVille, right? Well, I’ll say no more, but that this could be the future of Facebook…¬†


I thought I’d share one of my more recent discoveries on the internet, but I must warn you, before you continue just know that the page I’m uploading is a huge time-suck. What it is is an internet catalogue of “free published writing from around the web-” to use their own words from the “about us” section. While this concept of collecting information from a heterogenous field of subjects and publishing them periodically and frequently in one place isn’t a new one-i’m looking at you, encylcopedias and periodicals-my usage of them is relatively new, and my fondness, or attention, rather, has spiked greatly since beginning this class.

I’d say that my first encounter with something similar was a year ago or so, and it was when I first picked up a copy of Lapham’s Quarterly magazine. The gist of the magazine is that each issue, and there are only four a year, obviously, is centered around a certain theme, say, laughter, death, art etc. and the founder, Louis Lapham includes a little editors note/introduction or creative piece on the topic, and then the rest of the magazine is a collection of articles and essays and interviews-you name it-from across time and place all selected to highlight the theme of that publication. At first I was skeptical, and to be honest I’m not really sure why. It had something to do with the fact that, oh I don’t know, maybe it was that I felt like this magazine was creating an existence and name for itself by re-printing other peoples work. But once I got over that concept, and accepted it for what it is, which is a collection, an encyclopedia, most of all a map, I was OK with the idea and ultimately the magazine. Actually now I think it’s a great idea, and this digital version I discovered is very similar.

It gathers all the articles and reviews from magazines such as the New York Times Book Review, Z magazine, the LA Times Book Review, and organizes these articles, as published in the physical version, weekly or biweekly, for the most mart, and digitizes them, then allows you to sort through based on genre and reading length in minutes. Pretty cool. I’m a huge fan of this concept of making reading more convenient, and I think projects like these are aware of their environment and audience and do good things for the reader and the world of literature itself-print and digital. Any way, enjoy. Like I said, beware. It’s dangerously addictive. Check it out!