Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My issue with Facebook

My friends and family are quite aware that I am not often on Facebook. In fact, they often remark that I am "never" on Facebook. However, I was part of the first wave of users who discovered THE Facebook some years ago. In college, it was a different feeling. You could keep in touch with people that you had just met on campus, schedule meetings for group projects, and rediscover old friends from elementary school. At the time, it was only open to those with a college/university email address, so everyone was in a similar age range with a similar goal. Cue the rest of the world entering Facebook and there arises my issues.

This age of "social media" has really been a big disappointment to me. I think that what is happening with all of these online relationships is that we are losing touch with what is real and really around us. So quickly we take a photo and upload it to a page (or tweet about it) where our friends (and some followers, because I doubt you can be true friends with 8,000 people) can dissect it and spread it along. While this can be enlightening and helpful, it also allows us to become these couch friends. We might shoot someone a small message like, "Hey, how are you?" every now and then, but how insensitive is that? We have so much information around us that we don't even care enough about one subject for more than five minutes. Oh, your friend got married? Great, quick post on their wall and forget about them after that.

Real friendships and real relationships cannot fit within small timelines highlighting your favorite music and foods. Life is not that easily placed within some clever algorithm cooked up by a bunch of programmers. Facebook touts the idea of friendship and that is where my issue arises. I have great friends, but I don't need Facebook to have a relationship with them. It is a sad day when we connect online, but not in person. While it is a great way to get into contact with those who cannot be near us (similar to the telephone), it does not replace a true friendship.

I know that Facebook is a company, and like most companies, the bottom-line is what is most important. However, I don't appreciate them selling "friendship" as if it was created entirely by them. Friendship isn't liking some ridiculous, snarky comment that your friend posted on their wall. It isn't sending your friend some virtual icon of a present on their birthday. It isn't posting what music you listen to. Friendship is so much deeper than Facebook makes it out to be, and I don't like that they belittle it. If I think my friends will like something, I will tell them. I don't need Facebook doing it for me.

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