Thursday, August 05, 2010

Facebook, Twitter (et al.): Social Catalysts or Social Hindrances?

These days there are many people flocking to Facebook, Twitter and all the other online social networking sites to (re)connect with others. Personally, I really enjoy these sites (specifically FB). I enjoy catching up with (and finding) long lost friends and making new friends. I like that it facilitates get-togethers, new friendship connections and makes us more social. Some people though, do not share my opinion, they feel that FB (et al.) does not, in fact make us more social, but actually, impedes us from becoming so by keeping us trapped behind a computer, thus lowering our human interaction to strictly electronic means.

Here is one argument (names/details have been edited to protect the innocent/guilty):

Social: adjective
1) Pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations
2) Living or disposed to live in companionship with others in community, rather than isolation
3) Of or pertaining to human society
4) Of or pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in community.

Now...with that being known...when you put this definition together with a computer, email, tweets, images, in the hell is that social? You are taking the very essence of being social and you are throwing it away. It’s nearly an oxymoron.

Most (not all) foolios and idiots who have MySpace and Facebook and Twitter...are folks who completely hide behind a computer. They spend their lives on a website. They are the very antithesis of the word social. There is no human contact. No shaking of the hands, no face to face.

Its funny...I nearly crack myself up every night when I see people with 300 or 500 or 1000 friends...its so hilarious as most people won't even go through life speaking to 100 people...let alone 500. You know what is also funny...all those people who are social networking addicts...usually socialize with the same people that they actually interact with. Is the crazy or what?

The same 10 friends that you see at work, school, neighborhood...are the same 10 people you network with on Facebook. What a waste. Maybe once in a blue moon your reconnect with someone you haven't seen in a long time.

But most of the time it’s just the same folks over and over again. It’s laughable and totally against what being social is.

So...of course I'm not anti-social. I interact with hundreds of folks everyday. Actually seeing them and meeting with them and human physical contact with them. Much more satisfying than wanting to know what some person you've never met...a million miles doing.

Having a few people to keep in touch with, family members, people to help you out in events…that what? Maybe totals about 50 people? Maybe less, maybe more? What about the other hundreds of people that you never keep in touch with?

And, I’m not above anyone. I’m just not a tool that follows trends. Oh…everyone is FBooking…let me do it too. Hey, everyone owns an iphone, let me own it too. Hey, everyone this, let me do it too. I like to go against the grain. And hey, I’m not one to
totally rule out networking on the computer. I’ve shared my blogs with people; I’m in multiple fantasy football leagues with people I don’t know. The part I don’t like is just that FB has become this monster of a thing that is out of control. Of course, you can do what you want…but when you start hearing stories about busting your wife cheating on you in FB, stalking and killing people through FB, posting false information about people on FB, having someone hack your FB account. I mean…yeah sure, only a small percentage in the grand scheme of things…but still possible.

FB is such a waste of time and productivity also. Just surfing, seeing what their ex is doing, seeing how bad or good someone looks…blah, blah. All doing this during work hours. The fact that you spend more time on your job, than in your home…and you spend those hours looking at FB…it’s a waste. Of course, on your own time…no problem.

Facebook creates a false impression of an active social life. But of course, it’s an illusion. It’s smoke and mirrors. When you see hundreds of photos and comments of “friends” tends to make people believe that these people actually care for you…but then can you even count on your fingers how many times you actually meet up with people for a pizza or a movie? Facebook sucks ass for single people…old flames may still haunt you. You can say that Facebook is a nice way of stalking. People can get jealous and envious of others. Kids lose focus and just spend hours upon hours with FB either on their computers or their phones. Grades start to dwindle. To me, Facebook should be more like a nice blog that you occasionally visit to read the latest information on something. But, most everyone is so engulfed by Facebook…that it takes over any moment of free time they may have. I mean, when you start to think that if you work 9 hours a day, and spend 4 hours on Facebook, then you go home, and are on Facebook, and then before you go to sleep, you are Facebooking and then you sleep and wake up again to do everything over…come on dude. Facebook is the devil.
My reply to this argument:

Thanks to Facebook I’ve found lots of people that I had lost touch with. Perhaps the friendship fizzled and it was time to move on, but perhaps not. Perhaps I just like knowing where they are and having them there where I can talk to them at a moments notice. Perhaps it’s great to have a little/big network of friends that I can count on to help me with all my silly voting contests. Perhaps it’s easier for me to keep in touch with my family from El Salvador this way. Perhaps I like to know, hey, whatever happened to so and so. I don’t like to burn bridges, just because someone is now my acquaintance and not my best friend anymore, that doesn’t mean that a networking opportunity might not come up where we would require each other’s help/input. Just cause someone is not that close of a friend anymore, doesn’t mean I don’t like to say hi once in a while or commiserate with them when their kid is acting up, or check out their cool vacation photos. And what's wrong with being/making friends with people half way across the globe?

I have planned, found out about, and attended activities, meetings, and get-togethers (OMG actual face to face human interaction so scary, cause God knows I don’t ever do any of that) through Facebook. These included both old friends that I hadn’t seen in years and new people that I met at these events. If someone wants to be a hermit and hide behind their computer, well, then they don’t need Facebook to do that. If someone wants to use Facebook to keep a rapport going with old friends and acquaintances, then that’s fabulous. If someone wants to use Facebook as a platform to help arrange events and meet other people, (thus making them more social in real life too…yes, it’s possible, believe it or not) then that’s great too. If someone wants to just use it to talk to the same 10 people that they talk to every day, then good for them, who am I to tell them not to? Facebook (et al.), like many other things in life, is what you make of it.


So tell me, readers, what say you? Do you use Facebook, Twitter, etc? Are those sites social enablers or do you believe that they are inherently evil, bad for us, and turn us into hermits?



Anonymous wRitErsbLock said...

I love social networking sites, specifically time-suck-facebook. Since most of my friends are not in the same town in which I reside, it's how I keep in touch.

That being said, I've been spending very little time online recently, and I feel totally out of touch.

Anyway, I'm anti-social by nature, so all this online stuff suits me fine!

8:20 PM  
Blogger AmandaDufau said...

Thanks to FB, I've kept in touch with not only long lost friends from my childhood, but also family members. I "met" and keep up with my cousin's baby boy through Facebook, who I won't be able to meet in person anytime soon because they are living in Europe.
There are many facets to FB: connecting with friends and family, playing games and silly quizzes, and of course it’s intended purpose of connecting students and professionals. I even use it to save money, by being a fan of some money saving sites that post savings tips and coupons through FB.
Yes, there are those that "hide" behind the computer and whose "social" life consists of online networking and gaming, but there are others who use it as a supplementary tool to their social lives. It’s so easy to plan and attend events via FB. Just because one is on FB doesn’t mean they are hiding behind their username. It is simply another tool with which to communicate, truly a networking tool in all its forms. Facebook Rocks.
And if it turns someone into a hermit, it is because they were inherently a hermit, not because FB made it happen.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Your Gossip Zone said...

I use quite a few networking sites. I think all social networking sites help up us in communicating, but isn't healthy physically. People are getting fat because they are on the computer all the time.

6:46 AM  

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