Facebook – Keeping Us Together or Keeping Us Apart?

What did we do before Facebook? I do not even remember. Facebook has been in my life for a mere five years, and still, I cannot imagine life without it. It has become part of my daily routine, and it keeps me in touch with people. It is especially useful when I am travelling or living abroad, since it enables me to share my life across the world with people back home more easily.

The first thing you see when you type in Facebook.com is the sentence “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.” But is this really true? I usually update people about my life here in Japan by uploading pictures or simply writing a status update, and my family and friends seem to be very appreciative of this. Also, I can share my opinions and thoughts about basically whatever I want and reach out to hundreds of people simultaneously. In this sense, Facebook is genius.

It is also easy to keep up with everybody from all around the world, and I actually enjoy catching up on the lives of childhood friends that I have not seen in years. However, the conversations are often limited to the Facebook chat and rarely develop into an “irl” (in real life)/face to face meeting. Sometimes, you do not even write anything. All you have to do is press “like” and you have done your part. And sometimes, you do not even do that. Facebook enables people to snoop around and read about other people’s lives without ever saying a word to that person. Just because you are friends on Facebook does not necessarily mean that you actually communicate. Facebook makes it easier to keep in touch, that is for sure, but at what level? I would argue that Facebook lacks to offer depth to relationships. Everything is kept on the surface since Facebook often replaces physical contact, and in my opinion, conversations over the Internet can and should never be compared to meeting someone in real life and having eye contact, seeing that person’s facial expressions, body language and hearing the person’s tone of voice, and so on.

But I admit it; I am a Facebook addict. Because of this reason I have contemplated deleting my Facebook account several times, but I never seem to get around to it. I do have friends that have tried to close their accounts though. However, they usually end up pausing their accounts instead since deleting it for good seems to be an impossible task. The reason why I have not closed down my account yet is because I feel like I would miss out on so much. I get events sent to me every week, and if you are not on Facebook, you risk missing out on these events and on updates (this is known as the digital penalty). I also have a friend who never uses Facebook, and she is missing out on a lot of events and updates because of that. She does not care for technology, which makes is difficult for us to communicate and keep in touch while I am in Japan. I have only talked to her once since coming here. There is definitely a digital divide between those who have Facebook and uses technology and those who do not.
But what do you think? Is Facebook keeping us together or keeping us apart? And would you “dare” to delete your Facebook account?

by Erika Selander Edström

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5 thoughts on “Facebook – Keeping Us Together or Keeping Us Apart?

  1. Using Facebook seems keeping us together, because you know all your friends activities. However, we could never get any closer than that with Facebook.
    About the part that you say if you close down your account, you would be missing a lot. I totally agree with that, however, how do we invite people when we are not using Facebook yet? Are we assuming who not using Facebook could not be friends anymore? I hope when people enjoying the power of Facebook that brings all of us together, at the same time do not forget the basic communication skills that you can keep in touch with your friends. Then Facebook won’t keep us apart, but helping us to get closer to each other.

  2. I also use facebook nearly everday, as it is just interesting to look into those people’s lives. Oh, Jack whom I met on a trip for years ago is getting married, and Rina quit university!
    The question is; are those friends who will invite you to events only over facebook truely your friends? A phone call wouldn’t take up to much time, either. And who actually wants to keep in touch with people with whom you’ve been to the same kinder garten? Maybe you parted for a good reason, as one of them stole your bobby car or whatever.
    Furthermore, by spending so much time in front of the PC, we are not meeting up with friends or family, As you stated quit good in your post, seeing a two liner status update does not replace a good conversation.

  3. I have been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I
    never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth
    enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did,
    the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  4. I have to say I have mixed feelings about facebook. On one hand, as I live in a different country to my family and long term friends, FB is convenient to keep everyone up to date about life. But, on the other hand, I feel that some friends to whom I exchanged emails on a daily basis have given up email in favour of facebook. Before we all turned to FB, we used to write long emails about things, telling about trips, family events, little and big. Now, it seems that we are all happy to just flick at each others’ photos, click like and leave. More recently I have created a closed group for my family, so I can keep on publishing photos and events to keep them informed, without feeding the voyeurs. But I still publish things for all friends to see because I feel we now have this need to keep reminding people we are still alive, and whoever is not on FB seems to be forgotten.

    So, I am under the impression that Facebook can bring people closer, but the reality is that most people now write their status and updates to an abstract collection of friends instead of writing to someone in particular. So, together with your questions, I’d like to ask if people reading here still keep communicating with people without Facebook or if they thing that email and phone calls now is just for work etc. Specially in relation to those friends that live far away and you can’t meet regularly. Do you still email them? Do you still write emails telling about your experiences in life or do you just post photos and updates on Facebook so you write just once and everyone sees it?

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