Facebook: Friend or Foe?

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Random Banter

Recently I heard of a guy called Matt Zulesza who started a project called 1000+ Coffees. Matt’s plan is to have a one-on-one coffee with each of his 1000+ Facebook ‘friends’ over the space of the next three years, or as long as the project takes to complete. His intention is to remind himself, and others, of the importance of ‘real life’ socialising, and to celebrate the individual humans he has had the pleasure of meeting throughout his life so far. I think that’s wonderful. However, Matt’s project got me thinking about Facebook – the good, the bad and the, well, sad.

I have 649 Facebook friends. That’s a big number, but it’s fairly modest compared to many whose Facebook ‘friends’ top 1000, 1500, and even 2000. I must admit, I cull Facebook ‘friends’ regularly. Once upon a time, circa 2007-08, my number of Facebook ‘friends’ was important; the more the merrier, I accepted the friend requests of anyone and everyone (even my friend’s pet rabbit). Now, most of my Facebook friends are ‘real’ friends – individuals I’d genuinely enjoy meeting for coffee. (Then there’s the few people I remain ‘friends’ with for entertainment and/or stalking purposes. Or those I want to delete but can’t as they might be offended, so instead I’ve hidden them from my newsfeed.) All in all, I am pleased to have remained technologically connected to (almost all of) these people. It’s nice to see what old friends are up to, and to follow the adventures of those who are travelling or live far away.

I would have no qualms messaging most of my Facebook friends to catch up for coffee, if it wasn’t for the fact that many of these ‘friends’ would find it weird. If I bumped into a Facebook friend in the city, we’d stop and chat before going our separate ways. We might even exchange phone numbers and organise to meet for coffee later in the week (though it would probably never happen). But if I were to send out a personal invitation to a random friend for coffee via Facebook, completely out of the blue, they’d very likely be completely weirded out. They’d question my motive: does she want something? Does she have a crush on me? Is she planning to murder me? Is she pregnant with my baby? How sad. Since when did being friendly become weird? But I guess I’m a hypocrite; if a random Facebook ‘friend’ sent me an invitation for coffee without any forewarning, I’d be majorly creeped out too. Having said that, I’m quite open to testing this theory. Matt Zulesza – I salute you.

I’m on the cusp of being part of a generation that doesn’t know a world without Facebook: the Facebook Generation. I signed up to Facebook in 2007, at the age of fifteen. Kids today are signing up to Facebook as young as eight. Children know the word ‘Facebook’ before they know the word ‘dictionary’. A man in Egypt even named his daughter ‘Facebook’. There is literally a disorder called ‘social networking addiction’. Kids born from 2004 onwards will never live in a world that hasn’t seen Facebook. For the Facebook Generation, myself included, it will never be a strange concept for a human being to have their own online profile: a digital timeline of posts and statuses and albums of personal photographs available at the click of a button. So, how exactly is this a bad thing?

Here’s how:

A few months ago was my five-year school reunion (I graduated in 2009). I was responsible for organising the reunion, which, of course, I did through Facebook. Back in the day, I’d have to have contacted my old school to obtain my classmate’s postal addresses, most of which would be outdated. I’d have to have sent out physical invitations, stamp and all, with a request for RSVP via e-mail or telephone. I wouldn’t have known much at all about the classmates with whom I hadn’t maintained personal contact. Our five-year reunion would have been exciting; a highly anticipated occasion filled with surprises. But, thanks to Facebook, the days of mystery and anticipation are long gone. I already knew what everyone would look like; that Sally had pierced her nose, that Rose had a tattoo on her wrist, and that Sam had died her hair blonde. I knew what people were studying or what jobs they had. I knew those who were in relationships, and with whom, as well as those who had travelled or lived abroad. I knew which girls had remained in contact with one another, and those who hadn’t. I knew everything, and so did they. Whilst it was lovely to see my classmates in person after half a decade, there were no surprises. And I think that’s a pity.

However, there’s a perk to our every photograph, comment and wall post being retained by Facebook. Far in the future, when we’re old and grey and unable to understand the most modern advances in technology, we’ll be able to look back over decades worth of photographs, comments and wall posts on our Facebook profiles (assuming that the Internet hasn’t run out of storage space or the earth hasn’t exploded). Of course physical photo albums already exist, but no family photo album is as true a record of one’s entire life than a Facebook profile. In thirty, forty, fifty years time, we’ll re-discover photographs from our twenty-first birthdays. We’ll be able to read over wall posts to and from friends we’ve long forgotten, and people we once loved. Our children, our children’s children and maybe even our children’s children’s children will be able to delve into our own personal histories, via our Facebook profiles. That’s pretty cool. I wouldn’t mind my parents having grown up with Facebook so I could see images of them as teenagers, passed out on the bathroom floor with penises drawn on their faces. But then again, I like the fact that they lived a mysterious life before I came along, a mysterious life I’ll never know.

There isn’t really a point to this post, but maybe we can learn something from it. Let’s make more of an effort to catch up with friends for real. Let’s meet friends for coffee and talk. To do that, we’ll have to actually log off Facebook. Surely that’s not too hard, is it?

…now I better share this blog post on Facebook so that my ‘friends’ actually read it!

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The Author

My name is Emily and this is a place where I write about all of the things I love (and sometimes the things I don't love). These things I love include all sorts of people: strangers, friends and family alike. And writing of course! I've never liked giving descriptions of myself, so you'll have to read my random banter in order to get to know me.

6 Comments

  1. It’s funny. My true core friends and I never connect on Facebook. However, it has been good to know what happen to all those people in high school–and it has helped me publicize some of my blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My “true core friends” and I only really connect on Facebook when it’s a group conversation, or to share links via messenger. I much prefer to connect with my friends via text, phone call, or face to face 🙂 Facebook has certainly helped me to publicize my blog! Before I began sharing my posts on my personal Facebook page, they were being read by only 10 people per day on average. Now, on days when I share a post on Facebook, my number of readers jumps tenfold!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it, love it. The more “connected” we think we are, the higher the walls build around us; a technological isolation from the purest forms of human interaction that we now subconsciously long for. It’s an epidemic of some sort. Facebook opens our worlds but denies us the smaller beauties in life. Like serendipity, chance, surprises; they all go out the window. The value of true friendship, love, the power of letters, and the timing of what’s meant to be will be. Devalued. One click and you can alter and manipulate these things, instantly. But you make such a great point about the future – one day looking back on our lives, where our children could too, long after we pass. Alas, then the mystery is like you said, gone. I guess the point is to reconnect and surround yourself with those who are real(ly) in your life. Much like our ‘real’ conversation the other day hey Taggy. See you in the morning. In my real car. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • You put it perfectly. I’d meet up with you for coffee any day, that’s for sure! Speaking of which, I’ll bring you a soy latte tomorrow at around 12pm…how does that sound? See you in the morning my very special and very ‘real’ friend (with whom I’ll always be “connected”). X

      Liked by 1 person

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