RRRR: Facebook and socialization

PIcking up on the Facebook discussion a few threads back...

Shortly after The Atlantic ran a cover story titled "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" the New York Times printed a similar feature article, "The Flight From Conversation." They're similar articles with slightly different centers. The former targets a possible tendency to treat Facebook interaction the same as face-to-face, and the latter says younger people aren't developing conversational skills, and only really know immediate interaction. In both cases, the heart of the article suggests using Facebook is more of an isolating behavior than it seems.

I think it's selling the value of all the small sharing short, because it ultimately paints a multi-dimensional picture. By liking pages or dropping links or posting photos or talking about what they just did, it’s a lot easier to have a real conversation down the road, because you can skip the smalltalk and 20 Questions and get right into something you know about. People with a social media profile can be recognized as a real person sooner.

On the other, from my limited view, it does seem like a surprising amount of students I see aren’t great at direct communication. Not just face-to-face, but they aren’t as willing to pick up a phone, for instance. And I do see the narcissistic tendencies mentioned in the article, mostly in the form of passive-aggressive behavior. Continual vague references to how bad a day/employer/person is, in the hopes of getting a “What’s wrong?” or other form of sympathy, followed by resentment when whatever situations aren’t resolved by that.

It seems like it’s possible that kids who grew up with IM/e-mail/Facebook/etc. aren’t conditioned to direct, personal communication as well as ones who didn't have such technology. But it could be that Facebook just broadcasts something that always happens, and so it only seems more prevalent. And new technology always inspires fear from some people that we're losing our way.

My perspective is limited. My Facebook is pretty ratcheted down, and when it comes to either that or Twitter, I post maybe one of every five things I start to write, because I can’t come up with a quorum of people who would care.

So, what's right and wrong about this?

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