Look at Me, Look at Me!

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My mom, a high school teacher, once asked me what Facebook was: "What's this Face thing that all my students are talking about?" I told her it's an online social network that connects you with friends, work colleagues, kindergarten crushes, etc. But that's only part of the story. The other part — the deeper truth — is that sites like MySpace and Facebook are vehicles of narcissism. Think about it... you're saying to the world, "I think highly enough about myself that I'm going to create a web page dedicated solely to me and my greatness — and available for all to see and comment on. And I'm going to put up 23 photo albums of me and my friends, documenting every seemingly insignificant detail of my life. Except I don't really think it's insignificant because I uploaded 50 pictures of the same exact thing, but each from a slightly different angle, with a slightly different pose." Do not be alarmed, this is not a derisive critique of the Face and the Space. To the contrary, I embrace this virtual self-indulgence, I celebrate it. And that's why I've created a photo album entitled, "Do You Have Sufficient Pictures of Me?" filled with numerous stylized portraits of myself. 'Cause let's be real: these interactive networks are nothing but a stalker's paradise. And I like to make it easy for them.

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I would like to register a contrarian point of view from the teacher who bemoans the fact that these sites take the place of actual interaction among teens. As one who grew up an only child, and very shy, many years ago, I would have welcomed a tool like one of these sites. I could never "interact" in person and consequently was very uncomfortable as a teenager. If I had had the experience of interacting in the less-threatening atmosphere of a computer, I would have had an easier time in social situations. I'm 65 years old and have embraced email and mailing lists as great ways to interact with others who have similar interests.

Sent by Glenna Stansifer | 3:36 PM | 10-4-2007

I agree with the guest that these programs can be what you make of them. In today's day and age of post-industrial hunting and gathering, I have numerous friends spread across the country. Facebook and MySpace is the perfect outlet to for me to stay in contact. Especially with blogs and fun little games associated with both, I can virtually hang out with them in a much more integrated way than a simple email. To view these programs as simply a diversion, a narcissistic display, or a forum for stalkers isn't necessarily an accurate representation of why myspace and facebook are so popular.

Sent by Joe Szymczak | 1:25 PM | 10-5-2007