Social media technology has fundamentally altered the ways people interact with each other, and the ways people think about themselves. Some of the changes have been positive and healthy, such as the creation of new social networks that bring like-minded people together. However, not all of the repercussions of social media are positive socially or psychologically. Both Shannon Matesky and Stephen Marche discuss the downsides of social media. Matesky and Marche both suggest that social media provides a poor substitute for face-to-face contact, and that users of social media should try more to connect with themselves and with other people outside of the digital realm. It is important to retain the same types of decor and rules of etiquette online that exist in the real world.
Friendship remains defined by the same principles, but social media has introduced the world to a new category of friendship that could not exist otherwise. The shallow interactions that develop between individuals that have never met in person, or who have had only superficial personal relations with, can now be defined as "friendships" for the purposes of Facebook. Facebook "friends" who are not regular dinner companions or confidents are more like acquaintances or connections than like friends. What social media has done is not changed the definition of friendship so much as expanded it to include acquaintances and connections. There is nothing inherently wrong about "collecting" friends in this manner, but there is a risk of developing serious loneliness or depression if Facebook friends replace real-world friendships.
In "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" Marche talks about the way Facebook's power is in the ability to connect with people without the "embarrassing reality of society -- the accidental revelations we make at parties, the awkward pauses, the farting and the spilled drinks." However, Facebook does present people with other types of awkwardness. Many times, comments on posts turn into arguments that become ugly. People who post frequently about political ...
Facebook cannot substitute for real world friendships because there is something remarkably powerful in face-to-face connections. Whereas having an online debate prevents people from really losing their temper and shouting, a face-to-face interaction does not have any such barriers. People reveal their true colors more in person than on Facebook. In fact, many Facebook users create an exaggerated profile that presents themselves as they would like to be seen rather than as they truly are. Most people will represent themselves accurately enough because many Facebook connections are real-life friends who would notice any lies or discrepancies. Yet as Marche points out, people who use Facebook frequently pretend they are happier than they really are, or only talk about the positive things in their life. As a result, people may be suppressing negative emotions and creating mental disorders. Whereas real world friends and family members are confidents that preclude the need for psychological therapy, Facebook friends are not confidents. Users might need to "outsource the work of everyday caring" by hiring professional counselors -- a role that used to be filled naturally by friends (Marche).
Matesky adds that another problem with social media is privacy. Social media opens people to dangers such as identity theft and espionage from an overbearing government. Even when these types of issues are not of concern, social media has replaced the nature of self-expression in meaningful ways. Before social media, friendships evolved organically from interactions at school, work, places of worship, or neighborhood organizations. People who did not like each other instantly would not become "friends" as readily as people on Facebook befriend each other. In some ways, social media has helped reduce the types of stereotyping and prejudice that could prevent friendships from evolving in a more naturalistic setting. After all, when one…
It is important to retain the same types of decor and rules of etiquette online that exist in the real world.
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