Sunday, March 04, 2007

Facebook - a social network by Mark

Initially when I decided to join facebook, I was a little skeptical about what I’d find and experience. Judging from interaction and conversation with others about it, I wondered if facebook wasn’t just of means of satisfying curiosity about old friends and even a kind of ‘creepy’ means of touching base with past acquaintances. I guess I viewed it essentially as participation in a ‘free version of lavalife.’

Having had facebook, now for a couple months, I have come to a somewhat different understanding. I have found it to be a great way to meet up with old friends; a more interactive means than MSN of keeping up with current friends; and a system whereby I can share and exchange pictures, notes and gifts online. I have enjoyed the opportunity to talk with friends from public school, high school and camp, and find that my social world has greatly expanded as a result of participation – albeit on a mostly superficial level. I find that I check it a few times a day, and look forward to reading the comments, and looking at the pictures etc. sent by my contacts. Though the argument still remains that I could ‘just pick up the phone and call’, I think facebook provides a more efficient and convenient means of socializing with many people.

I sometimes wonder however, if the medium, in this case facebook, exerts too much control over the nature of interaction. I wonder if the simplicity, the efficiency, and to some degree the anonymity prevent or impede the development of close relationships that might have been established as a result of face to face interaction. The end result, I may come to realize, is the establishment of multiple superficial relationships, and few with any substance or long-term value. Also, facebook provides a means by which I can convey or even manufacture any image I choose – even one that may not be at all realistic or representative. In this sense, facebook can foster the establishment or maintenance or relationships that are not based entirely in truth – a reality that may also have negative long lasting effects.

In conclusion, I have come to realize that while facebook provides a wonderful means of contacting and communicating with people, it must be used with care. First, its use should never preclude personal, intentional, 1:1 conversations and interactions with friends and family, and second, I must take care to ensure that all communication, from my end at least, is carried out with absolute integrity.

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