Once upon a time, there was a private life...
Thus the history of our current community condition could begin, understood as people living in a society reflecting for a moment on the time we spent connected to any social network.
Whether it is morning, evening, lunch or dinner, every occasion seems to be connected. Not to mention if we are out with friends, travelling or attending an event: we reach the “peak of connection” and become submissive to social networks. But let's take a step back to understand the evolution of being "socially connected" and understand where this spasmodic and compelling need for sociality on a 360-degree network comes from.
In the beginning, there were only a few social networks whose purpose was to facilitate overseas conversations with a messaging system that made it easy to use to reach relatives, friends and family anywhere. Then the first social networks like Facebook appeared whose novelty was to create a public profile to share with friends or non-friends.
The concept of the public in its broadest sense becomes consistent precisely with the advent of Facebook as sharing moments of one's life with a wider audience becomes obvious and even fun - no matter who is on the other side of the screen, but the aspects of our lives become aspects of the lives of others, it does not matter whether we know our virtual interlocutors or not; it's fun to gather consent through sharing posts or likes from anyone who views our content.
Bilateral communication between two human beings now appears to be an obsolete condition and confined to private life.
Private life? The question arises: do we still have a private life?
A sphere that seems to be such only in environments of a certain type such as intelligence departments! Yet this so called intimate sphere has reached a close distance to the public sphere that it is difficult to distinguish them today.
Complicated with this approach or subversion or fusion of the two spheres are the much-loved social networks (of any kind). There is an urgent need to be "intimately connected" by eradicating everything that was previously relegated or kept hidden for the private sphere; now with the merger of the two spheres, the private sphere slips into the public sphere through the use of social networks.
The public sphere and private sphere now share the same space and place, the same language, without distinction between them, the same importance and more importantly, nobody remembers to have a private life to distinguish from the public one. Indeed, we no longer desire it and we do not even miss it so much we have become public figures and profiles in the hands and eyes of all and all that it is now difficult to keep a secret or confine something to private life. We seem to be nailed to a virtual destiny that decides our next step, our next breath.
Every area of society can be reached through social media and even sectors such as politics, finance, science and the stock market are available to everyone through simple and immediate language. And as a result, everything is news. We forget the values of the singularity, actuality and human interest that define a piece of news because on social networks every rule and every value is subverted to make room for the immediacy of a fact often described through a photo or video, rather than written text.
Nor does it seem worrying or alarming that even our family members, often at the mercy of our thirst for virtuality (no matter what age or if we have been authorized by them) are exposed to this social wave and exposed to likes and comments of all kinds.
How public is our private life?
Two-way communication is now blurred and is no longer limited to one or two people but two people in one space interact with others sharing their experience with the rest of the world. We feel almost obliged to have to "publish" every experience of our small or large life. But why? Is it likely to make us feel safer, or at the centre of social attention that we, in reality, struggle to have? Or even for pure fun. Or even more, because everyone is doing it now and not publishing often makes us feel cut off from the world. And once we have received consent from the public, this encourages us to post and share more and more.
Studies on social network dependency
Many studies warn us of the consequence of an addiction to social networks, which once acquired becomes difficult to manage, to the point of not being able to live without our being connected which becomes one with our social being. "Socially connected" therefore becomes the absolute that dominates our day, our feelings, our freedom of expression.
Currently, the dependence on social media is a disease that does not have a precise diagnosis, whose symptoms have been found on a very high percentage of subjects, according to the Royal Society for Public Health, who literally lives glued to the screen of a mobile phone, losing the sense of reality. At least 10% of young people are suffering from an addiction to social networks which among other things have contributed to the growth of various "digital" phenomena that can harm the psychological and physical health of those who fall into the virtual network.
Let's take back our private life
Social networks have great potential: they have created opportunities for work, learning and creativity and continue to be a source of continuous inspiration for infinite professional possibilities. The warning that comes from experts in social networks and studies associated with them is to use social networks in a "healthy" way, trying to spend more time with ourselves, to appreciate ourselves in our entirety. To look for the good part of the social network and to exploit its potential to grow professionally or give us limited time for browsing and look for other leisure activities such as reading or sports to recharge our batteries. We should leave private lives for ourselves, for a few close friends, and above all, we should try to protect minors from the endless traps of the network. On the other hand, there was life on earth even before the advent of social media!
Remember: you are important for what you are, not for what you "do" on social networks.
Alessandra Guerrieri studied Communication and Social Media and later specialised in Communication and Fashion Journalism. She has contributed articles to Vogue Italy where her creativity has been expressed through her fashion writing, as she holds a vast knowledge in fashion culture and history.