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