I hate to use the “F” word, but I have to….Facebook. There I said it, and now we no longer have the pink elephant in the room. Not to say that there are not other social networks, which there obviously are plenty, but Facebook is the leader of social networks and so I am pointing my finger at them with this post.
Before the creation of the social networking giant, I can recall a time where people still called one another to wish them a happy birthday. Invitations and announcements were only sent via the U.S. Postal Service and you had no idea who got married, bought a house, or had kids unless you talked to that individual (or did some serious old school style stalking).
Now, instead of picking up the phone or sending cards, we can send a quick “Happy Birthday” to someone’s wall and consider it the same (guilty). We know about everyone from high school (that we didn’t talk to then) who got married, had kids, how many, and what those kids are doing every.single.day (today Jane went to the park with Sam <3 #YoungLove!!!). Oddly, we may even receive wedding invitations (totally serious), announcements (still unfortunately true), and other such updates all via Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.
At the same time, we can keep in touch with family that we may not speak to regularly (or at all, hello 2nd cousins). We can easily share photos with large groups of family instead of having to print them and send them all in the mail (expensive). Additionally, we can keep our “friends” (or who we choose to accept requests from) up to date with as little or as much information about our lives as we want.
For Lent this year I gave up my account and obsessive compulsive daily
stalking checking of status updates. For the first few days, I honestly did feel a bit “out of the loop” and as if I had missed the last three episodes of my favorite TV show. After about a week though, I felt a relief. I didn’t feel pressure to keep up with everyone else (let alone the Joneses). I was less anxious from not digesting every single complaint, bad day, political/religious drama, etc. Overall, I was happier. I relapsed though shortly after Lent was over, with a “just one check on everyone” mentality, and immediately was hooked on that TV show again. So what if I missed a few episodes? I could fill in the blanks along the way…(or stalk pages now in my free time to catch up).
When I sent a thank you to my friend the other day via FB…before calling her to thank her personally, I pondered how social skills have been changed by a “social” network. From everything that I have deduced, we have become less social. Ironic right?
Who is to blame? If there is a “blame” to be had in this- does it go to the users for the mismanagement of their page, or the creators for allowing such an open forum for anything and everything to be shared? Twitter at least makes us keep it short and sweet and doesn’t allow for a profile that takes three years to build. Perhaps the responsibility goes to both?
What are you thoughts? Facebook: good, bad or neutral/user error?