The Facebook Paradox


Whether you want to admit it or not, people like Mark Zuckerberg have changed the world. It may be for better or worse (and I think it’s too early to tell), but what we can say is that these social networking sites (namely Facebook) have certainly started a new trend in the social world. This is the constant documentation of every gathering or event that occurs, by the posting of photos and comments. There’s now photographic evidence of pretty much everything we do, which is worrying.

It started with innocently wanting to capture a good time had. It then became a desire to show everyone you know how fantastically exciting your life is, and now it has become the need to display every night out, every holiday, every walk to the shops and every party ever attended, whether it was enjoyable or not. Here in that final point lies the irony of the new Facebook world.

I was at a party recently that was, I’ll be honest, lacking in atmosphere (and conversation); Halloween rarely fails to disappoint. But still the next day I found photos of me at that party on Facebook. When I thought about it further I remembered that instead of taking photos of everyone having a good time that night, people were taking photos because there was nothing else to do. I’ve found this occurring more and more. The photos are quickly becoming a far too major part of a night out, in the effort to prove to people that you were out and that you aren’t socially inept, whether or not you had a good time. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be so quick to relive the nights where I spent the whole time waiting in the queue at the bar, or being rejected by multiple women, which happens regularly (shocking, I know).

This trend is only being exacerbated by the “professional” photographers that roam nightclubs nowadays. You can be standing in the corner of the dance floor, quietly weeping into your expensive drink, with a friend consoling your most recent sexual failure; but still you’ll turn and smile (or make a stupid pout) when the camera man with the club’s name on his t-shirt rolls past. As long as the club logo is on the caption of the Facebook photo the next day, who cares? Who’s to know you weren’t enjoying yourself? I say all this, but to be fair I do it too.

The point of sites like Facebook was to share memories (among other things) with your friends, but now it’s almost as if those roles are being reversed. Of course, this doesn’t always apply, and some nights out are good fun, but people are in danger of documenting for the sake of it. If we’re not careful, this won’t just be a trend: people will literally go out on the town just to get the photos taken.

Just so you know, I took a picture of myself writing this article. It’s on Facebook.

  • Alex Vocat

    Totally agreed, and quite witty it was too! The concept of ‘people going out for the sake of it’ can be extended out from just taking photos. People seem to opt for a particular type of night out that conforms. To be honest, it is a requirement that I be absolutely tanked before setting foot in a club and I’m sure many other guys could relate to that. I like evenings, but my preferred night out involves the cinema or a meal out.

  • Martin English

    I’ve shared this article on my Facebook :P good article though, I totally agree with you. I never take photos on nights out, or at least very rarely, and I’m not a fan of the kind of people that feel it necessary to always be pointing a camera in peoples faces. I’ve got nothing against photography, but when you’ve got dozens of photos from 1 nightclub all showing pretty much the same thing you do wonder what it’s all about. For me, I wouldn’t be enjoying myself if I was constantly going around getting snaps; why not just enjoy the night while it lasts?

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you mention here. It’s not just the pointless pictures; it’s the whole concept of virtual socialising. Humans are biologically equipped to communicate face-to-face. We weren’t born to stare at screens for hours on end. It also encourages people with low self-esteem to put up a front; a sort of ‘this is me’ page.’This wall and these photos represent all of who I am,’ and that is incredibly sad. A boy asked me out via facebook last year. Two things struck me: first, why ask over facebook?Why not face-to face? Second, he’s avoiding my reaction because he’s fearful of rejection. He won’t have to deal with the embarrassment and awkwardness of the whole situation. It wouldn’t bee too far-fetched even to say that virtual socialising encourages cowardice.  

  • Christopher Watson

    I share the sentiments expressed by fellow commentators! In my work photographing in clubs (as mentioned in this article) I get to observe the antics of party goers, and it amuses me a lot of the time. Plus, its one of the only times I like to be in a club, doing the photos and not having to do stupid dancing or drinking. And as I’m not an intrusive photographer, but like to wander around, it is the people themselves asking for photos, as opposed to being pestered. I consider myself to be on the preferable end of the wedge.