Created on Thursday, 30 August 2012 21:37
This July, I took the utterly unremarkable step of setting up a Facebook account.
This decision was bittersweet for me because, although I understand all the advantages of being able to keep in touch with others, I saw social media as a corrupting force to the quality of human relationships.
My other objections to joining Facebook were hardly original: it destroys human communication and it’s a forum for narcissism and idiocy.
But I was about to leave college, and since my immediate family and many acquaintances were on Facebook, I decided to suck it up and create one.
Now that I have a one, I have had many opportunities to see my views vindicated as well as challenged.
Being a member of Facebook certainly has its upsides. I can keep in touch with people, and I have found pages and groups with similar interests to mine.
However, I also saw many of the aspects that long made me despise social media.
It felt as if, by creating a Facebook, I had taken on an obligation to be a part of the community, to pay the dues and come to the meetings.
Facebook is perhaps the most pivotal cultural hub of my generation, and the implications of having a virtual medium in that position can be disconcerting. People are taken out of the “real” world, so they are free to construct or alter the identities they display.
With that phenomenon comes a sort of deterioration of communication, as truly effective inter-personal communication requires some authentic, veritable knowledge of people.
I have seen people I know in real life who post comments and statuses that do not jive at all with the personas I observed off the internet.
People’s perceptions are altered as they look at these social media profiles online.
Our Facebook “friends” can present themselves as more virtuous, tougher or outgoing, but these details might not properly represent who they actually are.
It simply is not possible to communicate effectively when one’s knowledge of others is as dubious as it is in social media environment.
The honesty necessary to the meaningful exchange of ideas and companionship is lost or reduced through the overwhelming temptation to artificiality social media presents.
While Facebook presents many advantages on a local level, its macro-effects are much more problematic.
Facebook is not totally detrimental to society, of course. It has a place, but one much more limited and controlled than the position it currently assumes in society.
If Facebook can be relegated to the role of a less prominent social facilitator, rather than the sole or main one, it can be very beneficial. If not, then many parts of our culture may continue to suffer for it.
Griffin, a freshman journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.