How Facebook is killing real relationships

I’ve always had strong opinions about the Facebook phenomenon and all that virtual social stuff, I have always said they are ruining our life and actually destroying our real social interactions. Today I think that’s true more than ever, and I will tell you why.

My opinion is that Facebook is something to pop up at 9 in the evening, when after a 14 hours day you are too tired to do anything else. You open it and just start lurking around new friends embarassing photos (like grils’ bikini ones), laughing at childish status updates and links and browsing your groups recent activities. At least, that is how I use that damn website, publishing hironyc and nonsense content without really telling people nothing serious about myself. Quotes are the farthest thing I do. Instead, people use to put there all their lives – their interests, hobbys, wants, likes and dislikes and, most important, friends interactions. We’ve all seen that “John is engaged with Melissa” with around 15 likes under it and as many comments saying “man enjoy it” or “sis I’m so happy about that!”. Few people actually realize they are losing the real social interaction that piece of news may have generated. Remember the old style way – just to wait to really meet the people you care about and tell them orally or, better, organize an appointment?

A lot of people just use Facebook as a replacement for real life while, at the very same time, considering it a different reality. I know it sounds weird, but that is really how it appears to me. It is definitely kind of odd considering a different reality something they spend 1-2 hours a day on, yet being the place where they get in touch with their friends. My fellows do not seem to understand that every tiny piece of information, the tiniest indeed, they put on Facebook (being it a status update, link, photo or whatever) is somehting that mirrors their personality. Therefore, it may mean there may be people who can form an idea on how a person is just looking at their Facebook profile. Sadly, it is this way. And it is shuddering. If you listen to certain music you are more likely to be a certain type of person, and it is the same for the poses you take in photos, the kind of links you share, whether you share your sentimental status or not, how often you engage and break up… Literally everything on Facebook mirrors the writer. Not good. It is dangerous not to acknowledge and remember this. Unfortunately, I come to be into that really small group of few people who can join all these information together. That is the reason why I stopped asking and accepting Facebook friendships from people I do not know well enough and who I plan to know thoroughly in person. This is because saying yes to a Facebook friendship request is saying no to a real relationship.

Guys, the pleasure of friendship is to know the people you spend time with, not having virtual interactions with them. Think about this: it is much more likely you will have a deep conversation with someone on a Facebook chat than in person. This has always happened and probably will happen forever. Wanna advice? Avoid that. Even though Facebook make people show involuntarily their characters, it also reveals the essence of them. People chatting with you will be themselves in such a way that they won’t. When you have the possibility to write instead of speak, you have all the time you may need to think about what to say, and you rarely end up saying the same things as speaking. Does that reveal the essence of a person? Yes. Is that the person you would know in public? No. So you start knowing a person that virtually does not exist. You may get a crush for that nonexistent person (and tell them your love in a chat) or even hate that person. I am afraid of saying that in the web half measures rarely exist. Also remember that writing hides facial expressions and gestures, so that half of the communication is lost. If you are smart enough to look at your speaker’s eyes when in person, you can not deny that the look is part of the conversation.

Having too much information in bulk about a person through its Facebook profile may actually make people go away. Have you ever thought that? Let’s put this to real life, shall we? Say you are a boy who likes rock music, wears Converse All Star, watches horror films and reads historical books. You have met a girl, a pretty one, who, after a first talk, you regard as interesting. You wanna now her better. What would you do – What is the dreadfully wrong thing you would do? Open Facebook, of course. And there, in her profile, you learn she likes pop music, wears boots, watch love films and reads thrillers. Would you still think she is worth knowing? I guess no. And yet, that could be the girl of your life! Maybe, knowing her piece by piece, as time passed by, you may have loved her.

This year, in high school, my class was joined with another one of the same year just because we were two courses of about 14 people, too few… Now that we are together,we just can not get in touch. Since the first day there is one class sitting on the left part of the room, and the other one staying on the right. We seldom interact (though with some exceptions) and even when doing PE we do not really know how to cope with each other. The first day I thought we would get on well, it was just a matter of time before we knew and liked. But now, for how things are turning out, I am not that sure about it anymore. After about a month of school I noticed all the guys in my class are friends on Facebook, even between the once two different courses. But hey, that is weird, they have never spoken with each other, nor that I know at least! They surely have not gone beyond the polite “hello” or “what’s for tomorrow?”. But yet they are friends online. I can not get it, maybe I am missing something, but I really can not get it. I mean, what is the purpose of this all? I fear those people will never know really.

Facebook is a very large and interesting topic, and I will probably write about it again. It is a fantastic platform when it is up to communication, but nothing more. Communicating is what Facebook is good for. Forgetting this means leaving real life behind and giving Facebook a primary role even though it should not be this way. Some people prefer to declare themselves (as I did until an year ago) against Facebook, saying they will never sign-up. I think this is as bad as using it all day because it kind of cuts you out.There is nothing terrible on being on Facebook, there are only a few things to remember.

4 thoughts on “How Facebook is killing real relationships

  1. Hi Stefano,
    compliments for your blog and for this interesting post about Facebook and its influence in real relationships.
    I think there are several interesting points in your post, as well as in the comment of Marco and I’d like to point out only a concept. Mobile Phone/Internet radically changed the way people communicate with each other, and there is no doubt about this. But this is not bad in itself. Different types of relationships require different types of communication, and I think that for some type of relationships, these changes have been positive. I’m thinking about working and business relationships, where the emotional level of communication is absent.
    Completely different if we talk about relations of friendship, where the emotional level of communication is really the most important. And, in my opinion, this is what is almost completely missing in Facebook: the emotional level of the message. Why? I guess because of many reasons…maybe because the emotional level of a message is strictly linked to the non-verbal communication, completely lost in Facebook as Stefano pointed out…but really it’s a topic that deserves further reflection…

    PS: unlike Marco…I’m not sorry for my English…it’s my best and I’m trying to improve it since I started to work in a company where everyone speaks english (even the Italians)…but you know…at my time of life is not so easy 😉

    • Hi Osvaldo,
      I happily welcome your congratulations.
      You remember me a post I read some days ago on a magazine, which said that the only thing Facebook is not able to offer so far is intimacy. It is not very clear how intimacy could be providable on the Internet, also keeping in mind that with chats similar interactions it is possible to achieve a 100% privacy. I am not even sure how much it would help since the coldness of virtual communication would still be there… But, again, I agree Facebook and the whole Internet have been great making easier things that would still be harder today without them. Newsletters have almost been replaced by groups, and managing a team is much easier on Facebook. But, as you say, we have got to understand what Facebook and similar are for and what are not.
      Hoping to see you soon,
      Bye!

  2. Hi!
    It is a very interesting point of view about the “Facebook phenomenon”.
    I agree with much of your opinion and I have the same kind of relationship with Facebook, which is the only I can imagine.
    However, in my opinion Facebook is only a piece of the puzzle: in fact, social relationship were decreasing even before Facebook arrival on the Net.
    The Mobile Phone’s revolution before and the Internet’s one later had yet created the framework for real social relationship’s end: Facebook has speeded up the process and made it more deeply diffused.

    Again, compliments for your blog and post 🙂

    Sorry for my English, but it’s very late and I am very tired.

    P.S. It’s funny to note we are two italians using english to communicate 😀

    • Hey Marco!
      I agree Facebook is a piece of a broader puzzle – but the fact is it is the biggest one, actually. What only such a developed social network could offer is publicity. SMS and text messaging in general (we all remember MSN Messenger) provided us with a different -and brand new- view of interaction. Relationships started to weaken with those changes: people started to tell important things with a text, or to have entire conversations in a chat, but all those stuff was not public. Facebook speeded it up, true, and made this new way of interacting spread like wildfire.
      Bye, hope to see you around again soon 🙂

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