Sunday, April 3, 2011
The Facebooking of Our Generation
Facebook (and other social media sights) have changed the way we are interacting with one another; it's easy to be connected to other people through sites like facebook and twitter but is it a REAL connection?
Once a week I see some sort of "Post this as your status if you support breast cancer/special ed/anti bullying efforts and see who REALLY cares about these things" That sort of thing has a label; it's called "slacktivism" and its' sweeping through social networking sites like crazy. Basically it's a quick way to say "oh hey, I care about something enough to put it in my oh so important update space, and now that I've posted it, I can forget about it" which is what most people do. Two seconds of our day devoted to a "cause" and we're done. We feel GOOD that we've posted something like and other people can SEE that we've posted it and it ends there. How many people actually DO something beyond posting some reposted mumbo jumbo on facebook? I'd be willing to bet the number is very low.
Another thing I see a lot of is when people post something really good or really bad and tons and tons of people "like" the status or make little comments like "oh no" or "that's too bad" and let it go at that. There's no follow up and when you ask someone if they saw your status or someone else's status message stating really good or really bad news, they usually cannot remember that they posted. We've become so used to just clicking the like button or posting something mindless that we're missing the point of interacting with one another.
I'm the first to admit that I LOVE Facebook; I absolutely love seeing what my friends are up to, connecting with old classmates, and far away family. It's a great way to connect if you actually use it FOR connecting. I'm guilty as hell of clicking the like button constantly, I find myself looking for the like button on other website as well (and a lot of them are connected via facebook so I *can* click like when I like something) BUT I try to make a point to actually read what I am clicking like on, I try to make a point to follow up with someone when they post that they are sick or a family member passed away or they got a promotion. It's easy to just click like and walk away (or click away) and not give it another thought. We are making a lot of superficial connections that, at the end of the day, don't mean a whole lot to anyone. I read an interesting article about facebook and depression and anxiety. It turns out that so many people are so invested in facebook and their friends list that they are anxious about what people are posting and how much people are interacting with them. People are losing sleep over their friends lists and messages not being answered, etc etc. It's really an odd phenomenon to say the least.
What can we do about it? How can we make sure we aren't part of the superficial facebook generation? Disconnect from the computer once in a while and write an actual note; call someone and see how they are, send an email to someone following up on something you saw on facebook. Plan an outing with someone, go some place and do something with a friend or family member. Physically interact with someone-definitely more fun that just READING about it on facebook...even if you don't get to click the "like" button ;)