When Communication Falls Short
The Social Network Evolved
Often in my friendships, I wonder how I would talk to them if not for Facebook. Many of my contacts are people I do not see on a daily basis. Some are people I would probably never hang out with again. So why do we keep these friendships? Why are they so important?
Communication has evolved, and Facebook has made it much simpler to talk to people. But has this altered the way we perceive communication?
Today, Facebook has changed the way photo sharing, video viewing, and relationships have been created and perceived by its vast majority of users. In May 2012, it was reported that Facebook had over 901 million users worldwide.
Facebook is great for getting to know people, but sometimes it can have the inverse effect. David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect states: "I think it has changed the way people relate to one another. [And] It has changed the visibility people have into one another's lives and you know everything your neighbors do."
I feel that most of my friends are more open on Facebook than they are offline. I crave to know more about them, but when given the opportunity I get nothing in return. It seems Facebook has taken away the "getting to know you" part of friendship. It has given you everything you want to know, without delving for details.
Communication at a Deficit
Facebook has opened the door to communication, but has also closed it at the same time. Deborah Brody states: "in a world where we can be in touch with anyone anywhere at any given time, we are losing the ability to really connect." This is because cell phones and computers have become the default way we communicate with people. In my experience, people have spoken to me less and less. Friendships have ended via chat, and never face to face. It seems people have shifted in communication and we have become driven on technology. But, are we really?
Technology seems to be everywhere today. At the mall, many people are on their cell phones or texting. Before I graduated from my university, in every lecture hall was at least two or three people checking Facebook while the professor was teaching. At first, you desensitize yourself from it and try not to feel offended. But it stuck with me the entire time. Every now and then I would hear a text message ringtone and cringe. It felt like people were too busy for a college class they paid for. It made me wonder how society could even function without technology.
When I was in elementary school, my teachers would have us do a "No TV Week." I would fake the slips because I couldn't go without watching my favorite shows. But I tried it one day to say I did it. It was the hardest thing I had to do as a kid. It was then it occurred to me at a very young age just how much our lives revolve around technology.
Because of Facebook, many people feel the need to post whatever they want without precautions. But how much is too much? Is there ever a time that Facebook becomes flooded with too much personal activity?
The answer is yes. Many times people post things that do not need to be seen on Facebook, including statuses filled with curse words and private information about their lives. People feel the need to vent on Facebook, and later realize that it was the wrong choice to do. How do you avoid posting too much?
Here are some ways to find out if you are exposing your friends to more than you should on Facebook:
- Think before you post. Is it appropriate? Do you think others will understand? Is it a temporary thought, or does it have permanence? Will others be engaged by your comment for the better, or worse?
- Don't tag your friends. Oftentimes I will find friends who tag someone in a picture that is emotional, and shows they are depressed. The picture is their way of saying the problem without saying it to them personally. Don't do this. Instead, tell your friend privately instead of sharing it in front of your friends online (And their friends too)!
Facebook Official: Changing Relationships Forever
Relationships between individuals has also shifted because of Facebook, giving way to the term: "Facebook official." When a couple lists their relationship on Facebook, it is seen as a rite of passage for them. It is accompanied by 'likes', and comments that can range from positive to negative. A relationship is not just between two people anymore, but between the friends of the significant other and the friends of their friends who see it. Engagements, weddings, and break-ups also fall prey into this same routine.
The newest addition I have seen has been proposal photography. Couples will have many sets of proposal pictures to recreate the moment, but sometimes I wonder how many proposal albums a person needs. Long after the engagement, the couple is still showing more photos from the proposal that happened months ago. Has Facebook become a place of attention? Are people addicted to it?
A Final Word
Changing my perspective on Facebook has really opened the door to further questions. There are a lot of things I don't understand still about how much technology demands our life, or how Facebook makes me feel like communication is decreasing. But I do know one thing, and it's that Facebook has aided me in life when I needed it most. I wouldn't have met my fiancé without mutual friends from someone I barely talk to. I also like to be able to find people on a website. But I don't like the direction communication is going, and I hope that it improves. Until then, all I can do is try to increase my communication and not let technology pull me away from what matters most.