Facebook is a very interesting platform. I have “friends” on Facebook from primary school, high school and university that I don’t speak to anywhere else other than on Facebook. And yet I know so much detail about their lives. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes I lean towards good because it helps you to keep in contact and know what’s going on in people’s lives. However, it’s also pretty bad because you never need to ask. You always just know. This saddens me too.
I have a Facebook “friend” who has been very ill the last month. She too was pregnant with a little boy, which sadly she lost yesterday morning after fighting for over a month for his and her life. This hit too close to home. We were a few weeks apart in our pregnancy’s and even though I followed her progress and struggles on Facebook it never actually occurred to me how real the situation is. I knew, but I didn’t really know (if this makes any sense?). And this is terrible. Never once did I send flowers or pop by for a visit. Purely because we’re only “friends” on Facebook. And when she posted that she gave birth to her “sleeping baby boy” I felt a knot grow in my throat and had to hold back the tears. I can’t imagine going through what she has just gone through and now she has to carry on fighting for her life.
Similarly over the weekend we attended a spit braai held by one of Matt’s old school friends. Someone we also haven’t seen in over 4 years. Yet, he knew pretty much everything big that’s going on in our lives without ever speaking face to face.
I feel that Facebook can be dehumanising and that we lose track of proper social acceptances. We don’t spend time in “real life” with people as we should.
Yet, we all still do it. We all love it. Why? That’s a simple question that I can answer with one simple word. Curiosity. We all suffer from this. We all want to know what’s going on around us. And Facebook is convenient because it’s a time saver. We don’t have to ask and wait for answers. We don’t have to plan meetings or schedule time. All the information we need is there for us to see.
As much as Facebook effects what used to be social norms and re-establishes boundaries we grew up with I’m not going to tell you I’m going on a Facebook sabbatical or taking leave off Facebook like many do. This is because these things never last and as bad as Facebook can be socially it has also proven to be good in helping me keep in touch with friends and family who don’t live close by.
I guess reading some of the posts on Facebook today just got me thinking and I realize that I should make a bigger effort to get in contact, to schedule time, and to do face-to-face more often.