If you are reading this blog, know what a blog is, or have stumbled upon my blog through your surfing, you’re probably aware of Facebook. Facebook and I have a love, hate relationship. I love it. Then ‘hate’ myself for loving it so much.
Remember the days before Facebook? . . . I do. I had spent a semester in West Africa. When I came back, not only did I feel socially awkward (you spend 3.5 months assimilating into another culture, then switch back!), but I was socially inept. I didn’t have a Facebook. I left for three months and when I returned, I had been left in the dust. So I did what many did and resisted signing up.
And then I caved. And I loved it. Loved seeing the pictures of what my friends have been up to. Still love seeing my friends’ weddings, babies, new homes, and vacations. We’re wall-posting, facebooking, inviting, liking, and unliking by the hour. With facebook on fancy phones (I’m out of this loop), I hear people even send updates from their phones. We can check facebook, anytime, anywhere. Or start a revolution against our oppressive government, as the Egyptians showed us. I mean, this is intense stuff.
However, I’ve been contemplating of late – Is Facebook a false sense of community?
I’m exploring this idea through my own ventures on Facebook. I’ve realized that I can be sitting on the couch, next to someone. The conversation gets a bit dry, or the movie is dragging, or the game isn’t extremely stimulating & I find myself moving towards the laptop. I wonder if anyone responded to my post . . . Even worse, I’m at home with my adoring Husband. We both pull out our computers. He starts checking HuffingtonPost. I peruse my Gmail. . . .and then we’re on facebook. “Hey! Did you see that so-and-so is pregnant?” . . . “Where does so-and-so live now?” . . . “Oh! Good for her. . . ” I mean, it sounds absurd, but I know I do it. I know I say it.
Perhaps I’m alone in my sometimes unhealthy obsession with social media. I’m okay with it. But I just wonder. Instead of seeking relationships with my neighbors, do I seek friendship with computers? Is it easier for me to ‘like’ someone’s photo than pick up the phone and call a friend? Is it more convenient to communicate with people “when I get the chance”, than drop everything to drive over and see them? When I feel lonely or bored, is it easier to numb my mind with endlessly scrolling through pictures, instead of using my brain to create something to do? – or heaven forbid – just enjoy being!
I wonder if Facebook and social media will one-day dilute community. In the First World, our lives are free of toiling daily in the soil to produce food, free of fighting ‘simple’ illness like hepatitis, cholera, small pox, and malaria. We don’t have to live close to family members in order to share the field work, or the care of our children because we can afford grocery stores, daycares, and nannies. The result is a lot more free time! I’m free from having to grow food, make thread, sew my own clothes, build furniture, build my house, walk 5 miles for health care, etc. etc. You’d think I would spend my time with the ones I love.
Instead, I just look at pictures and ‘like’ what they’re doing from 1,000 miles away. Huh.