I had a really interesting conversation with some colleagues today about the value of Facebook (aka FB). Most of my colleagues are connected to FB and some… although considerably less… have opted to tweet as well. However, there was one hold-out who was unconvinced of the value to be gained by joining the FB community. Well, obviously there’s value… right? I mean, everyone I know is on FB… my husband, my parents, my friends… even my 80+ year old Grandma! Surely there’s a reason we are all connecting, often daily, to find out what’s happening with our 300 nearest and dearest friends.
I had to think for a moment. What is up with spending precious, irrevocable minutes of my day reading posts of general acquaintances or friends of friends… people I may not even know? What are we getting from this level of engagement? Is this just another instance of too much in a world of information overload? How am I a better person by keeping tabs on high school friends who I wouldn’t necessarily get together with even if I did have 5 spare minutes in my crazy busy life? Are we so lacking in personal connections and real relationships that we have to turn to electronic devices and social media to fill the void?
Or perhaps… just maybe… there is more to this social media trend than meets the eye. I know for myself, my family and personal friendships are of the utmost importance to me. I definitely don’t feel like FB has replaced the efforts that go into making these relationships work. I can still appreciate the value of getting together for lunch, writing a letter or picking up the phone. However, there are increasingly more instances where people who I care about are in a different state in their lives, either literally and/or figuratively, and perhaps this is a way to maintain a peripheral level of connection that would otherwise not happen.
I’m curious what the increased connectivity, global awareness and influence of technology will do as we move forward – for my generation, but even more so for my kids’. What are the implications of being “friends” with your entire class… your entire school… your entire community? What about being friends with the global community? Is there a limit to how many connections one person can maintain with any semblance of authenticity? What expectations go along with this higher level of peripheral connection and how will we manage the potentially greater responsibilities that ensue? Or maybe this is just a phenomenon of a transitional generation… perhaps the “rules” will be better known by the time my kids decide on whether or not to “friend” the world!
So, as of now, I’m staying connected. As usual, I have far more questions than answers on this life journey. If you’re a member of FB, what keeps you coming back? If not, what keeps you away? What impact do you think the growing global community will have in your lifetime… and what about the next? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Love and laughter to you. ~Rashel