Is your social networking experience missing something? Here’s how to make something more of it with an extra helping of three ingredients.
Just How Social is Social Networking?
As tech blogger Xavier Lur observed, if Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous on the planet. (And Facebook now has 25% more users than at the time he was writing!)
Can we really connect with hundreds of people at once? Not effectively, but some keep trying. They are plugged in and always up to date on the latest feed.
Does all this information help or hurt relationships? It may be my area of work as a psychologist, but I hear of more destructive than productive use of Facebook.
People are publicly reprimanded and bullied. Family problems are aired in front of over 100 of their closest friends. Loved ones are hurt when updates aren’t acknowledged. And, we can even publicly break up and get back together again with the help of technology.
Of course, using Facebook isn’t all bad. I’ve had a blast finding old friends from every stage of my life. It’s also helped me share family photos and videos with those who live far away.
And, it can be a great way to organize events, celebrate milestones, promote your online business, and support global causes. Facebook helps organize a lot of information. It is a tool, an amazingly complex, ever changing, always open, social dining experience.
But has Facebook really improved any relationship that we have in our face-to-face lives? The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly built Facebook to gain popularity. But I don’t think it really gave him greater personal connections, just an amazing business venture.
So, how do we partake of this social dining experience without losing our friends and family along the way? Most recipes won’t taste good if they are missing ingredients. In fact, they may completely flop. To have a fabulous-tasting social networking experience, make sure you follow the recipe completely.
What the Social Networking Recipe Needs
Don’t forget these three ingredients for fabulous Facebook connections.
The biggest missing ingredient from the Facebook buffet is privacy. There is an increasing disregard for what is private communication. What is your own personal line for what is private and what is public?
Are there any words, pictures, or links on your Facebook page that you would be embarrassed to explain on a job interview? Save the juicy, personal ingredients for your face-to-face interactions.
As David Kirkpatrick says in The Facebook Effect , “Popular though it may be, Facebook was never intended as a substitute for face-to-face communication.”
So, you have your sharing filter adjusted to an optimal level you can live with. But, what about sharing information about others?
According to Kirkpatrick, Zuckerberg believes that if we live in an ‘open and transparent’ world, people will be held to the consequences of their actions and be more likely to behave responsibly. I wish this were true. But, I don’t think openness automatically invites more responsibility. Being able to talk about a variety of topics with others is great, but it’s missing an ingredient — equality. Don’t forget to value others as much as you value yourself.
I think Facebook should rename “Friends” to “Contacts.” Make connections less personal and less of a popularity contest.
Kirkpatrick argues that “For some, Facebook may generate a false sense of companionship and over time increase a feeling of aloneness.”
Are you spending more time trying to connect with a lot of different people who are far away rather than a few people who are right in front of you? The most intimate, personal connections you can have will always be one-on-one, not in a group forum or a large gathering.
Since finding all my missing friends on Facebook, my time on Facebook has gradually decreased. Even a therapist can get caught up in the social party going on in Facebook.
I don’t want my Facebook experience to be like a dramatically portrayed reality TV show of my life. I want to remember that it is a utensil, not the whole meal.
What do you think? How much information is too much? What are the consequences of living more of our lives in public?
All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and was last reviewed or updated by