Last weekend when I was surfing on the internet I happened to read an article called “Is Facebook Making us Lonely?” by Stephen Marche, several rising phenomenon and problems with today’s emerging social networking sites-particularly, Facebook, are listed and discussed. Before reading this article, I have been thinking about whether social media like Facebook are indeed connecting us or alienating us. And this article further triggered my doubt about the alienating effects of Facebook on users.
One of the questions listed in the article that impressed me was that although Facebook users had slightly lower levels of “social loneliness”, but they had significantly higher levels of “family loneliness”. They didn’t feel bonded with their family members. I had a great empathy with those who had this feeling when I was reading this article. As a constant Facebook user with more than 500 friends online, I spent some time everyday chatting and updating status. Even when at a family dinner, I sometimes couldn’t resist the temptation to touch my cell-phone just for checking the latest updates on Facebook. My parents always say that I’m addicted to internet and that I hardly spend time talking to them anymore just because I incessantly stick to my phone or my lap-top. My “addiction” to Facebook has triggered countless times of quarrels between my parents and I, sometimes making my relationship with my family members tense. And thus, I do feel the sense of “family loneliness” because of using Facebook; I gradually have less to talk to with my parents and I don’t think they understand my feelings. And this is why this question has impressed me, lingering in my brain.
Another problem listed in the article with Facebook users is the rising narcissism. A lot of people on Facebook (including myself) often post images of themselves or images about what they did. Some people, especially female Facebook users, upload tons of images of themselves with the same kind of smile, the same kind of gestures, but in different environment every-day. And under each image, there has to be some descriptions about this photo that are not really necessarily related to what the photo seems to be showing. For example, if the description under some girls’ photo is “Not feeling very well today…”, then the photo is usually the girl with a happy smiling face. If the description under the photo happens to be something like “I went to a new restaurant today…”, then the photo is usually the girl with another happy smiling face… Such behaviors are becoming growingly common these days.
Those are the two most impressive problems to me, and I do agree with both of them. The influences Facebook insert into our lives is sometimes subtle and even not sensible. If as users, we could be better aware of these influences, we could probably try to make it influence us in a positive way.
Flickr / Photo by mkhmarketing.