Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Not so much face-to-face(book)

I find myself wondering, contemplating perhaps captures my state more appropriately. I am contemplating why it is that I continue to have a Facebook profile. The regularity of updating status and posting pictures has diminished, especially after learning that any information posted on said site becomes their property. This in itself raises several privacy issues, however this is not what has spawned my contemplation. One then could make the argument that the definition of the word "friend" has faded around the edges and stretched to include people who better fit the definition of acquaintances or complete strangers. A lot of people I know have collected friends like Pokemon. This too however is not where my contemplation is rooted. I believe we are naturally at our core voyeuristic and enjoy peeping into the lives of others, it would explain tabloids and reality TV. Neither of which are reality and both of which are guilty of dumbing down our society.

I believe that my contemplation in regards to this subject has been birthed by the increase in communication totally void of any true quality. I recently heard that the quantity of information has increased substantially but the quality of this communication has significantly diminished. This question is worth a moment of thought. It also leads me to question whether our communications have become devoid of authentic emotion. Reading this, I realize it wreaks of negativity and pessimism. Nonetheless I pose the question. When we respond "hope you feel better" to someone who has posted "not feeling well" are we doing so with sincerity or out of some unconscious mechanism to seem and appear caring? From my perspective it appears that most of what glows from our screens as we check our Facebook profile is superficial. Do we post pictures of our vacations to "share" or more so to brag and invoke feeling of jealousy? If the latter is the case, then are these people really friends or an audience we have collected to marvel at our lives? It has been noted that Facebook is often cited during divorce hearings as being a contributing factor. There is a new level of safety and comfort experienced when one never has to look another in the eye. Often people will write things, perverse, argumentative or abusive, things they would never utter if they had to speak them aloud to the other person. One could argue that this is authentic, another could argue that it is spawned by the knowing that you will never have to confront the person face-to-face to whom you are writing. Which again leads me to question the authenticity of our communications on such forums. Very easy to be brave, outspoken or politically charged in the safety of our chairs. Perhaps I will pose a question.

What I am asking is "Does Facebook and similar vehicles perpetuate the quantity of communication devoid of any real meaning and despite its intentions does it manifest into a society that has become physically detached from one another? Or, does Facebook provide an authentic forum for sincere communication which allows us to stay in touch with loved ones and develop new friendships?"

Keep in mind that I am guilty of all the above charges, I continue to have a Facebook profile, one which I check almost everyday. I am guilty of experiencing a boosted sense of confidence knowing that I may never have to see my audience, and I shyly admit that Facebook propelled my ability to develop my life long relationship with the woman I am devoted to. Nonetheless I wonder what would life be like without Facebook ... I experienced such a life but I can no longer recall if it were fuller or emptier, filled with real friendships or ones similar to those I experience on-line? It's strange, but I can't recall, perhaps another unexpected side effect of Facebook.

Please feel free to respond and I encourage you to forward this to others. I look forward to any and all responses. Ironic that I am using a form of the mechanism I just questioned to further this conversation.