“To make the world more open and connected” is Facebook’s mission, as stated on its web page. Indeed, it has succeeded in making connection an easy and effortless task, and in the process, has reduced friendship to a wall post and a “like” button.
But strong, meaningful connections require communication that goes beyond a comment on a “wall” or the casual small talk on Facebook chat.
Yet Facebook essentially eliminates the necessity to do that.
Now there is no need to actually talk to people to find out how they’re doing. All one has to do is read a news feed and browse friends’ profiles to get a clear idea of where they are, what they’re doing, and what has literally been on their mind lately.
Yes, there’s the option of sending private messages once in a while, but that is not enough to maintain strong bonds with people who live on the other end of the state, the country or the planet.
At the same time, Facebook has eliminated the need to remember certain things about people, for example, their birthdays.
Now instead of saying “Aw, you remembered!” we are obliged to say, “Ah, Facebook reminded you.”
Seemingly meaningless little details, right? Yet they are very telling of how much a person cares.
What is the point of this “connectedness” on Facebook if it doesn’t translate into meaningful real-world relationships?
On the other hand, we can’t just blame it on Facebook.
They say, “You reap what you sow.” If all we sow is pokes, likes and wall posts, how can we expect to reap true friendship?
We think that Facebook is indispensible to our lives, but on second thought, what does it really give us that other modes of communication cannot give?
Want to keep in touch with friends who are far away? There’s an old-fashioned device called the phone, and it has a nice little advantage — one can actually hear the other person laugh, cry and shout instead of having to make out the meaning of those oh-so-expressive emoticons.
Want a visual to go with that voice? Go on Skype.
Want to network and make connections? Linkedin is the perfect place to do so. No more worrying about job recruiters seeing those embarrassing party pictures.
Finally, there’s the good old e-mail, which works just as fine as Facebook private messages and definitely much better than Facebook chat.
The upside of all these other forms of communication is that they create more room for meaningful connections and don’t turn people into unproductive procrastinators the way Facebook does.
The bottom line is that it is too easy to get carried away when it comes to Facebook.
It is good to remember that everything is good in moderation, and there are alternative ways of staying connected.