While everyone… well, not really everyone… is talking about those new Facebook emojis, I’m wondering how many Facebook’ers really realize what’s on the horizon. Facebook is, after all, working on something much larger… social interactions in Virtual Reality (VR).
So, think about it. If Facebook isn’t addictive enough, how will things be with the addition of VR?
I’ll be perfectly honest… even now, before VR, I can be hugely distracted with Facebook (and Twitter). It’s quite possibly one of the best attention deficit disorder devices out there. It doesn’t help when, working on the computer on which I’m supposed to be typing, I find myself popping over to Facebook… or Twitter. Clearly I have a problem. But, wait a sec. If you follow any of the writing/writer-focused sites on Facebook, you’ll see that this appears to be a rather common activity among writers. “Curse you Facebook and Twitter!” Furthermore, since I study social media interaction (to some degree), it’s too darn easy for me to justify that constant switch back and forth. It would be comical, I guess, if it didn’t actually impact my work flow.
So, this leads to something else…
Does the potential “new and improved Facebook” justify some type of call to action? In an exchange with a friend yesterday, I compared the new FB (with VR) to a couple of addictions. While adults are going to do whatever they want to do with the new “drug”, instead of handing a smartphone over to kids and saying “enjoy!”, should we entertain the serious thought of bringing “responsible social media” interaction, as a subject, into the elementary, middle school, and/or high school classrooms? (Teachers, please don’t bombard me over this… I realize you’re already tasked enough… paid too little… and often forced into “boxes” that often don’t facilitate creative ways of teaching various subjects). When I see various exchanges on Facebook between different teens, it seems obvious, they’re fumbling through interaction about as clumsily as interaction in real life… trying to find their place, etc., etc.
But, it’s not just teens who engage in awkward social activity. Honestly, some adults are just as bad, AND many adults (I find) have a horrible tendency to like and repost stuff without verifying the truth of the matter. Instead, they agree with something said and repost just because they agree with the thing being said.
But, I digress… sorta…
Zuckerberg proves himself to be a freakin’ genius for developing a sandbox in which many like to play… and he knows how to shift the sands in that sandbox to figure out how to keep the experience fresh… and to toy with the users. Yet, each time he brings a new freshness to the FB experience, should we also become more conscious of ourselves within that experience? Do we allow the machine (and the programmers of that machine) to control us, or, as FB moves toward social interaction via VR, is there an urgency to be even more on the guard for us to maintain control of ourselves within the machine? Don’t get me wrong… I embrace the technological advances and see a lot of potential for true learning experiences, yet I’m also aware of how we can lose ourselves too easily as experiences become more immersive.