Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Facebook: A study in connecting with out connecting

Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with so many people in my life. I have a friend list that tops 200 friends and covers people who have been a part of my life from elementary school to present. I can chat with them everyday if I choose. I can check their status and see what they are doing minute by minute. I am so connected!

Yet, I never talk to any of these people. I have no real interest in many of their lives. Some I barely remember. Why would I want to know how their dog is or their children? I can't imagine that they are really any more interested in me. Still, I continue to check on them every day. Sometimes several times a day.

It's voyeuristic really. I have a window into the lives of others I barely know or barely remember. I can see their pictures, their friends, their activities. It's kind of creepy.

Even with all the friends, I find myself feeling very disconnected. If I have friends that don't take part in MY life what is really friendly about that? If I don't take part in their lives, what kind of friend am I?

I believe we all long for a connection, a sense of belonging, a chance to be accepted by all we know. Facebook offers that with none of the downside. There is no need to build a relationship. Being friends is so much easier when no interaction is required. There is also no true support or encouragement. It's all virtual. Besides, if you are really longing for connection and all you get is voyeurism you are going to be disappointed. However, if you just want to know what's going on with the people you know/used to know, Facebook fills the bill.

I for one, vote we change the label of friends to acquaintances, people I used to know, friendly strangers, past friends, people I met once, people who are willing to say they'll be my friend. Any other ideas for the label?

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