There’s nothing social about social media


This article first appeared in the Herald Sun

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, call it what you like but it ain’t social

Almost everything online seems to be named badly. What’s more anti-social than social media? You do it alone, or if you’re surrounded by others, you ignore them. And it broadcasts to the online world what a great time you’re having with the very people you’re ignoring.

And it’s an online world that’s also ignoring you, unless you are attractive, doing something scandalous or a baby animal.

Something I’ll never understand but see everywhere are couples or friends sitting together, in silence, as they chat online to all their acquaintances who aren’t there.

It’s like asking out two people, then while you’re out with the one who said yes, you call the one who was busy and when they don’t answer, you leave a message — for the next four hours.

And Facebook is the worst book I’ve ever read. No storyline, all pictures and sentences full of spelling mistakes that make little sense and nobody reads. Imagine if instead of focusing on faces, Facebook was all about books. Everyone would have to use literary references: “Brunch was an Alice in Wonderland of confusing but delicious treats, followed by an afternoon of guzzling drinks like Nick Carraway and an evening of searching like Gollum for a decent dancefloor.”

Anything that’s trending online is never trendy and if someone is only a “Facebook friend” everyone knows they’re not really a friend. Is anyone less of a genuine sensation than a “YouTube sensation”? Is it possible to have less credibility than an “internet celebrity”? Is there a more forgettable star than a “star of Instagram”?

At least Twitter is closer to the mark. The dictionary defines “twit” as to taunt, tease or ridicule and as an insignificant or bothersome person. Sadly, online bullying is also very close to real bullying. The term “the web” is also near to the truth. The World Wide Web, like a real web, is an annoying and disturbing tangle that can trap you and drain your will to live.

And online shopping does resemble real shopping. You can browse for hours, accumulate a load of stuff you don’t need, waste time and money and at the end of it feel strangely empty. Once again, though, online shopping is designed to be done alone, while shopping in the real world can be a stellar group activity.

The biggest lie of all is that the internet was supposed to be bringing us together yet the more time we spend online, the more it pushes us apart.

This article first appeared in the Herald Sun

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

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