Facebook’s relatively short life span has changed the way our generation do everything. At the press of a key we have unprecedented access to all our friends, family and colleagues’ lives – we can view their recent photos, activity, comments and likes. We can find out when their birthday is, their relationship status, their employer and their location. It all seems too easy, too good to be true. Maintaining friendships has never been easier – or so we’re led to believe.
The question is, is this virtual world in which we immerse ourselves daily a gift from the technological god or a tool that encourages people to ‘connect’ without the human contact that we naturally seek. By virtualising our friendships, surely we’re devaluing them at the same time? The efficiency of Facebook is such that often enough it no longer makes sense to write a painstakingly long text (and that is what they’ve become) or pick up the phone for a chat. A quick flurry of typing and we can reach out to anyone at any time.
Facebook is now more than just a friendship tool – it’s the focal point of business, commerce, media and ideas. In many respects it’s our second life. To have your world at your fingertips is a truly amazing thing, but if we continue down this path, where is it likely to end? The more people buy into the virtual world of Facebook, the more uncomfortable life in the real world will seem. What is now a comfortable and desirable second life, could someday become a first life.
Fortunately, we’re a long way off that. But you have to wonder where we’ll be in 10 years’ time, or where our children will be in 20. There is no denying the world is a more open and connected place. There is no doubting Facebook’s use and appeal. But if the eventual price we pay to ‘stay connected’ is in fact disconnection from the natural world, one has to question the consequences of such heavy personal investment.
Don’t worry I’m not advocating that we all leave Facebook and return to the dark ages of letter writing and postcards, as romantic as that seems. Our lives have grown immeasurably richer in so many ways, we can’t even comprehend how things were done before. Timeline documents our lives and experiences for all to see. We can join any group or society or celebrity fan page we like. We can even meet other people that also like ‘spooning with a tit-grab’ if we so choose. We can organize our parties and holidays, get a football game started at the park or simply let your friend know you’ve just seen the last episode of Gossip Girl. But as Facebook enters our lives on our mobiles and I-pads, connects with our twitter and Spotify accounts and advertises products that are especially relative to me, is it all starting to get a bit much?
Only time will tell. The world is a far more open and accessible place for it, and so far it seems to be in the hands of people keen to improve our quality of living. We have to be careful with the way we use it. We have to remember that we take pictures to capture the moments we cherish, not just to improve or Facebook profiles. Having over a thousand ‘friends’ is a bit worrying unless you’re Justin Bieber. Whatever you may think, the choice is yours!
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