The Virtual World:

Friend or Enemy?

January 15, 2015  |  By Manuela Vitelaru, Romania

The Virtual World:

Photo : Wiki Commons / Derzsi Elekes Andor

Who are you on Facebook? How often do you access your account on this social networking website? Well, if you've already created your personal brand, your own image in this fairy virtual world, then you probably think twice before posting something there or when you simply choose to go for an online conversation. Just because there is no "Dislike", it doesn't mean we will all be a happy bunch of people, peacefully connected forever.

We love experiencing different worlds, don't we? We never hesitate. We seem to be forever living and however, we always remember that we only live once, as some youth love to scream in their mundane check-ins. But what do we actually lose by running all in the same direction in this life or death race that we like to call "life"? The real question is why are our feet still here, on the ground, as the mind clearly has taken a break from reality and is continuously scrolling down somewhere on the Facebook newsfeed? People, what is the way home?!

It is a well known fact that we spend more and more time online. We shop online, we prefer chatting rather than conversing face to face, we try more or less to show our love and admiration for one another, maybe we can even get engaged online, who knows?! But do we actually live there? Can we thoroughly develop ourselves in this platform with the "F" logo? Does it allow us to clearly express our emotions?

Raluca Bratu, a pshychologist from Brasov, Romania talks about a major problem that social media users often face, called "emotional idiocy". It is basically a process that causes people the incompetence of being able to express their feelings or even their own thoughts due to the overuse of this social utility. She said: "People really do need love and affection. And virtually, these are only conventions. It's not what you need, nothing authentic. Sometimes they seek for appreciation and approval - it is a powerful need of the human nature-, but Facebook is not entirely responsible for this. Also, there [on Facebook] you cannot have conflicts. Oh, it's so easy to run away from any argument. And thus, people avoid growing. People develop themselves through relations and communication". The pshychologist also addmitted that "the emotions cannot be trully expressed by chatting online with someone, as well as your Facebook page cannot reflect you entirely. It doesn't matter how much you would like to, but your identity you create there isn't really what the real you looks like, right? Or even completely different if you change yourself in the prototype that society taught you is the most beautiful and appreciated and so on. You allow people to discover only what you want to and that's why you can never know someone only from Facebook".

Stefania Lavinia, an 18 year-old student, had a similar reaction. She said that "the social media can create wrong impressions owing to the fact that the user shows her life's activity which can be real or invented. Thus, I think that if we are too anchored and addicted to Facebook, the authentic relations, the ones made face to face will be diminished. There will be a fear and a lack of confidence and we will no longer let ourselves to speak openly, in public. However, they have an advantage as well in informing you of events or in helping you to keep in touch with your friends and colleagues from school or work."

Some people also consider that the virtual communication is sometimes useful, as stated by Ioana, 18: "It's good, but, of course, up to a limit because you are liable to distance yourself from reality, from the people you have around you. You can live virtually, you can even suffer from a heartbreak. For example, I have a friend who had a relationship with a Romanian guy, but she was in Spain and he was living in Kuwait. And when everything ended up, she got really depressed. I'm using Facebook moderately, so I recommend everybody to do the same".

Another way in which Facebook can, unfortunately, influence us is related to the quality of the communication's language itself. An 18 year-old student who studies language, admitted that: "in online conversations, expressivity gradually gets lost. You can get misunderstood and so, there is a higher possibility to argue more often than you do in reality. It's also the fact that when you talk to somebody online, you don't know for sure whether he is honest or not. Asked how interhuman communication will change in the future, Vlad simply added that: "It will definitely be an involution. We will be clumsier, used to communicate only virtually and superficially".

In fact, it is our choice how often, how superficially or maturely we take advantage of Facebook and other such social networks. Maybe it's our adventurous nature or the false extroverts in us that call to express ourselves in this way. Even if we are not always aware of the consequences and risks it involves, they still exist. In what measure we can be sure someone will continue to be there for us, we cannot know. Personally, I feel sorry that we are so close, at only some clicks distance, but still too far from one another, that we nourish ourselves with unrealistic ideas and images. Don't we? We can still be connected, but we sometimes hide beneath some masks of arrogance and superficiality, running from the real and most precious people around us. Time is of paramount importance in our life, therefore we should spend it with responsibility.

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