Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Double-Edged Sword of Facebook

Technology has brought on many advances in the past fifty years alone.  We are able to live longer, healthier lives.  The Internet has given mankind unprecedented access to information.  Mass communications have given us the ability to communicate with somebody halfway across the world within mere seconds.  Being able to travel to foreign countries has never been easier.  I am truly amazed at man's technological progress in recent years. 

As astonishing as it all can be, I think that technology has come with unanticipated backlash that has stunted the individual and his potential to grow.  Let's take social networking programs such as Facebook an example.  Facebook has helped me connect with people that are hundreds of miles away, even though I wished they were right here.  In that respect, these programs are great.  I also use Facebook to connect with friends that I haven't heard from since grade school.  That sounds touching and nostalgic, until you realize that if they were really your friends, you would have never lost touch with them in the first place.  Even if they moved away, you would have still made the effort to be in communication.

What I am trying to drive at is that for many individuals, Facebook has become a replacement of social interaction rather than an enhancer of interacting with other individuals.  People find Facebook to be nice because they don't have to interact with others.  It's another result of the extreme individualism we see, which leads to extreme isolationism since the individual is self-involved. 

The issue goes beyond being self-absorbed.  It shortens one's attention span.  We communicate ourselves in Facebook wall postings that are so short that the notion of a fifteen-second sound byte seems to drag on forever.  Even talking in abbreviations such as OMG and LOL has seeped over into daily conversation.  Lack of attention span results in a lack of discipline.  Lack of discipline leads to lack of self growth.  Lack of self growth leads to pedantically and pathetically shallow people.  Sound character and a good head on one's shoulder becomes a rarity, and common sense isn't so common anymore.

Is this diatribe going to cause me to cancel my Facebook account?  Surprisingly not.  I cannot stand the fact that a majority of Facebook subscribers use Facebook as a crutch for their inadequacies to deal with actual social interaction and developing real-life relations with people around them.  My disgust, however, does not negate my usage of the service, as I view it as a utile medium to connect with others without having it consume my entire being.  Use Facebook to plan social events with others.  Use it as a gradual means to have a more meaningful, face-to-face interaction.  But don't treat it as a substitute for the essential human need of live, social interaction because it will ultimately hollow out that which makes you a human being.      

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