Facebook – The Great Disconnector?

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I remember thinking Facebook was lame as I resisted joining in the spring of 2006.  Then I joined, urgen on by a college friend, and I continued to think it was lame until I realized that here was something that I could finally use to keep in touch with friends and family that lived far away.  This tool would get me more connected rather than having to wait for letters or emails to show up on a whim.  This tool would make sure my friendships stayed strong, my connections meaningful, and my life full of love.  Yet 7 years into my relationship with Facebook I know see how wrong I was.

This post is not to vilify Facebook or social media.  After all, Twitter, Facebook and other tools have brought so much to my life: new friends, a book deal, babysitters, pictures of moments I wouldn’t get to see.  And yet, Facebook does not make me feel more connected.  Not in a deep way.  Instead I stand like a lurker peeking in at people’s lives.  Seeing moments that sure I might not see otherwise but that I have little context of, little story behind, so all they are are moments.

I miss the deep connections.  The letters I used to receive from my friends.  The phone calls to set times up or just catch up.  The ability to tell a story that they have not seen pictures of or heard of before.  When we say we have the world at our fingertips, it is true, but it seems to be a shallow one, one that consists mostly of hitting “like” and feeling like you took an interest.  You really extend yourself if you leave a comment and you feel like you did yours to keep friendships going.  Sure Facebook has brought much to my life, but it has also taken away.

So rather than complain and blame Facebook, because it is not the tools fault I misuse it, in 2014 I want to reach out more.  I want to write more letters, call more people, and see more moments in real life rather than through shared snapshots.  I want to invite more people into our crazy lives and post less about it.  I want to further the connections that I have in my life and deepen them into what they used to be.  Less like, more action.

Facebook was meant to connect us all, and it has done so for many.  But in the urgency to connect we seem to have lost the slow pace that is required to nurture friendships and create bonds between us all.  Facebook may have made the world smaller, but it has also shrunk our own lives into a circle that people stand outside of, casually interacting but never staying for long.  I am ready to break down the walls and bring people in.

7 thoughts on “Facebook – The Great Disconnector?

  1. “And yet, Facebook does not make me feel more connected. Not in a deep way. Instead I stand like a lurker peeking in at people’s lives. Seeing moments that sure I might not see otherwise but that I have little context of, little story behind, so all they are are moments.”

    This is so well said, and why social media can feel creepy for me at times. I am friends with some people I barely talk to, yet I get glimpses into their living rooms on Christmas morning and know about the illnesses of their family members. I don’t comment on these posts because I don’t have enough of a relationship with them to make it feel natural, yet it’s weird when I see them because I know such personal things about them. It feels stalker-y to mention something they’ve posted, but disingenuous to pretend like I don’t know.

    Your post has definitely given me food for thought. If I stand like a lurker, it’s because I’ve chosen to use FB that way. It’s up to me to change that and develop the in-person connections more.

  2. This is the post I have been trying to write ALL YEAR! For years I was the first to say how great it is to connect on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, but over the last couple of years the deep connections that I used to have are all but gone. I’m not saying there is no value in connecting because there definitely is a HUGE value. However, the deep connections only happen when you work on them—just like relationships that happen f2f. I have never felt more disconnected. I feel like an outsider watching and that is partly (mostly) my fault. I think my PLN grew to the point where it is big and I was spreading myself way too thin to keep up. For the last few months I have fallen off the social media radar because other things have become more important to me. I need to find a balance but that is becoming increasingly difficult. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. It is good to know that I am not alone in my struggle to feel connected.

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