Facebook prides itself on its ‘growth over money’ strategy, revolving around the principles that people want to share and stay connected. One idea explains that a more connected and integrated society will be a better one, but that is not really within the realms of a Facebook blog. Facebook argues that if people are in control of what they share and can do it with ease the integrated community can come into affect. Facebook has a large effect on our society and how we interact, from, social comparison to regretting our Internet footprint social media has become the ground in which socializing occurs. An online presence or persona is becoming much more of a requirement for integration into our communities and this edition of the blog aims to explore how and why Facebook has taken control.
One of the few positive notes on Facebook’s effect on society is that some say that the transparency of our social lives is beginning to force us to behave like better people. The concept is that more visibility on what we do means that we are becoming more aware of the consequences of actions and thus behaving accordingly. Some arguments point to young people cheating less due to the high likelihood that other members of the social group, particularly the girlfriend/boyfriend will see. Another view could be that society is getting more tolerant on mistakes and embarrassing events, since the evidence of the these events are now permanent people are beginning to accept they do happen and that they should be forgotten.
On a lower note, research suggests that Facebook is making us sadder and lonelier. With social comparisons between our friends and us make users “feel their life may not be as full or rich as others around them”. Researchers send texts to a select group of participants at random times during the day, they reveled feeling more glum and down after using Facebook, although it was not reported whether Facebook was used as a crutch for previous sadness, or the motivator for the alteration in mood. Remarkably the survey reported the effect was more pronounced on users who interacted more face-to-face. Supposedly the more real contact a person receives the more affected they are by the comparisons on Facebook becoming more sensitized about you’re their own lives. This interesting concept is sure to be examined in years to come, with the whole nature of communication changing, experts will soon look at how this change affects our mood and wellbeing.
Another point that needs raising is the constantly evolving dating circle that thanks to social media in general and in this instance Facebook, has become much more reliant on online dating and in most cases online interactions. A dominating feature in online ‘dating’ is the casualness flirtations can be, this leads in part to the idea that there is much less fear of rejection online, and the internet adds a protective layer when dating. These are massive features for our dating community to have, in essence they add a level of confidence that face to face is hard to achieve. However, the flipside is a reported increase in the ambiguity of relationships, as neither party knows what is happening. In physical relationships these markers for how a relationship is going are well known. In online dating however, they are much less easier to spot and daters find themselves lost as to how to proceed, physical in terms of face-to-face contact, or online. An interesting point can also be raised about the forgetfulness of the Internet in terms of relationships, it doesn’t. Many user on Facebook are constantly reminded of previous relationships though the newsfeed. Even ‘unfriended’ and removed visions of a previous partner are evident all over a users newsfeed through friends, photos and events. This creates an even stranger dating world, where in previous years a break up meant just that, Facebook allows meaningless interactions to continue to exist, in most cases to the annoyance of both parties.
A final topic I would like to discuss is the integrated social circles Facebook controls, when a user logs into Facebook they can interact with all social groups they are involved in, co-workers, friends, family, students. This adds a complication to how people behave on Facebook, with different social circles expected to see different things. Not may people wish to show the same side to multiple social groups and it is for this reason Facebook regret is creeping in. Users underestimate the impact of their posts or interactions and who might see them, as well as many mistakes coming through wrong self-presentation as coined by Beth Novey. However this is more likely to be in older generations who are less able to use Facebook, or who have more widely separated social groups.
Finally it is necessary to address how have the people responded to the Facebook effect, with social custom rapidly changing, has social life kept up to date with the internet. Many argue that we have, on the basis that in 2004 when Facebook started many people were afraid to have an online presence, now that is not the case and millions are on the site everyday. It is important to note however that given the negative effects of Facebook highlighted previously its overall benefit on society can be questioned. The main idea taken from this blog should be if we could crate an ideal online communications website, what would it be? How would it control our data and our interaction with it? Would it have the same features as Facebook?
Would it be Facebook?