Friday, September 23, 2011

Over Facebooking

I'm not sure if the title of this post is a foreshadowing of my future with Facebook or my conclusion about the amount of social networking currently happening. In the last few days, the updates of Facebook have been quite the hot topic in my Senior Government class during "Current Events." Today, one of my students raised his hand and summarized a blog he had read about how we can be consumers of a computer, but we are products of Facebook. This created quite the firestorm of comments ranging from "the Facebook updates are stupid" to "Facebook = drama, the end."

So I posed the question to my students, "Has Facebook taken away our ability to interact with people in a face to face setting?" Quickly, the consensus was that no, they still prefer hanging out with people. But the caveat was Facebook is available as an app, meaning someone isn't tied to their computer in order to "facebook"(as a verb). This brought me to my next point (I always like to make them go beyond their initial answer and refine their opinions). The other night, while I was out to dinner with my husband, I noticed a table full of women who were obviously close friends and excited to see each other. However, I was disturbed by the amount of time each woman was spending on her own phone, essentially excluding herself from that moment with her friends. I've tried to tell myself that I'm a good multi-tasker, but the truth is I'm terrible at it. And watching these women, I realized that most people can't exist in two realities either (digital and physical).

Facebook has obviously changed the world we live in. Local events become international news almost instantaneously. I can now show and tell (electronically speaking) all of my "friends" what I'm eating for lunch or baking at home or currently crafting. Every relationship has a sounding board and a forum from which to sprout. But what else has Facebook done? I heard a story on NPR today about how terrorist groups have used social networking sites to spread false rumors to incite chaos and to create opportunities for themselves. I wonder how many accidents have been caused or nearly caused by someone trying to update their status while driving. I wonder how many friendships have been ruined by passive aggressive statuses being misinterpreted.

How would our world be different without Facebook? I don't necessarily have an answer, but simply am posing a question. Am I over Facebooking right now? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm certainly not sure how I feel about being classified as a product of Facebook. But it is a valid point that we have been shaped by Facebook and the world view each of us holds has been influenced by some sort of social networking. So is the world over Facebooking (in the sense of using too much)? Maybe. Maybe not. But it is something we should consider.

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