by Kenneth Justice
~ Yesterday, the café I hang out at was packed and a mid-40ish couple asked if they could sit at my table…..after a few minutes of sipping their coffee they struck up a conversation with me. It turns out they went to college together 20 years ago but lost touch with each other…..he spent the last two decades living in Los Angeles, and she spent the last 20 traveling around the world working in human aid and finally ending up in New York.
Thanks to Facebook…..these two people reconnected after not talking or seeing each other since they were college students, “If it wasn’t for Facebook we probably would have never reconnected….I guess we have Mark Zuckerberg to thank for finding each other again” the man said
Facebook and other types of social networking have been the subject of much conversation over the past few years and it really amazes me how entrenched social networking has become within our culture….and what is interesting to me how intense the conversation around Facebook happens to be;
—-) Some people think Social Networking is bad because it allows people to air their dirty laundry
—-) Some people think Social Networking opens up young people to becoming the prey for child molesters
—-) Some people think Social Networking leads to infidelity
—-) Some people think Social Networking produces a ‘look at me’ mentality among users.
On the other side of the coin; millions of people love social networking and depend upon it daily as an integral component of their lives.
Yesterday I shared an experience I had more than six months ago regarding a man I met at coffee who was repeatedly cheating on his girlfriend. One of the things I left out of the story is that the man was using Facebook to meet and flirt with new girls…..and eventually…when the man broke up with his girlfriend that he was living with; he instant messaged her on Facebook to let her know he was breaking up with her.
My initial reaction about someone breaking up with their significant other via Facebook was one of frustration; it seems like a tremendously insensitive way to communicate a break-up…..but on the other side of the coin; perhaps we have entered into a brave new world where Facebook communication is now considered an acceptable form of connecting and talking to others….even talking with them about serious matters.
As for myself, I deleted my personal Facebook account 3 years ago…..while I do have a Facebook page set up for my blog (and you’re more than welcome to click <Like>) I had grown weary of the ‘Facebook way of life”. I had grown weary of logging onto Facebook and seeing my friends and family post the things they would post……
Although there are many good stories about using Facebook (like the couple I met at coffee who reconnected after 20 years) there are also a lot of bad stories…..and I’m a little bit hesitant of the brave new world that Facebook wants to lead us toward.
We now know that Facebook creates an online profile of every user; Facebook’s goal is to know everything about you in order to better serve their advertisers who can directly market to you based on your likes and dislikes…are you okay with that?
Facebook realizes that if they can successfully learn everything about you, from the type of cereal that you love to what kind of socks you tend to purchase; they will better be able to make money off of you….are you okay with that?
Technology is a crazy thing; back in the 1980’s when I was a little kid, I don’t remember people getting divorced or having moral quandaries over whether or not they should use a home P.C…….yet with social networking; people are beginning to wonder if its changing their lives for the better….or for the worse.
The simple fact of the matter is that I don’t want to be disconnected from the culture; I’ve seen too many people shun technology (television, computers, etc) and seen how they have become very disjointed when it comes to trying to connect with the average person. Using the tools of our current era is an important facet of staying connected to the men and women around us…..and social networking is definitely a popular ‘tool’ that exists in our day-and-age.
But this article isn’t as much about what we should do with Facebook….but what do we do with ourselves? As we are seeing the culture shift away from deeper forms of community in exchange for deeper connection via Facebook….what should we do about it? Should we tell others that Facebook should not be such an important component of their lives? And if so, where should people connect if not via Facebook?
One of the things people keep telling me is that they don’t know where to connect with others, “Kenneth, Facebook is the best place for me to stay in touch with my friends and family….if not for Facebook I would hardly talk to anyone“.
So what do we say to people who are so dependent on Facebook? What do we say about the direction our culture is moving?
A lot of questions this morning….but I have very few answers….I guess I’ll just order another cup of coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society