Facebook – friend or foe?

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This is for Shosh.

I put off writing this entry for at least a week.  The power of Facebook was preventing me from criticizing it.

I resisted the trend to join Facebook for a long time.  But now, after the compulsion to check Facebook has made it the first website I ever open in any browser, probably between one to two dozen times a day,  I don’t even remember why I resisted anymore.  I have a vague recollection that it had something to do with making a distinction between the past and present, with retaining a semblance of anonymity, or something.

But now it’s so much more.

At first, it was exciting to “reconnect” with people, but then somewhat disappointing after I realized that the reconnection was superficial at best.  “Hi, how are  you?  What are you up to?”  And then, after that, nothing.  Bupkiss.  So, I think that after the realization that very few people actually want to reconnect, what I get out of Facebook is being in touch with recent friends (say, within the past five years) who live in different towns,  finding out who gets a mazel tov, and maintaining some contact with my Cleveland peeps who I otherwise wouldn’t pick up the phone and call.

Then I was thinking that maybe I don’t pick up the phone and call anyone because I’m on Facebook, and it’s so much easier to just troll my friends’ pages and see what’s doing than to call and have an actual human interaction.  In fact, I think that the more my online “friendships” increase, the less I have face-to-face, or at least phone-to-phone encounters.  That’s Concern #1.

Concern #2 is the social ogling factor.  While trolling on my friends’ and acquaintances’ pages, I see who is in touch with who and how often.  When I stop to reflect, it is rather voyeuristic, both for the poster and the reader of the post.  I myself am guilty of posting many “great to talk to you!!!!” wall posts to friends who I just got off the phone with.  What is the point of this?  My friend knows that I enjoyed our conversation.  She doesn’t need the post.  No, it stems from 1) group-think.  Other people are doing it, so I think to myself, “Oh, that’s something I should do.”  Nice and shallow 2) the strange desire Facebook engenders to let other people know just how social I am capable of being, and with whom.

Concern #3 is the incredible amount of time which can be sunk into the alternate reality that is Facebook.  Now I block all updates from games and quizzes, etc., but I have spent my fair share of time answering questions which will reveal to me the ever-so-important “Which 80s cartoon character are you?”  And so on.  Thankfully, I’ve manged to limit my Facebook usage to viewing profiles and commenting on pictures, wall posting and link posting, and, of course, uploading videos of my child which I think are supremely interesting.  In this way, I feel good about the amount of time spent on Facebook.

So, Facebook, I have a fickle relationship with you.  I’m constantly with you, yet I wonder just how healthy our relationship is.  I guess it’s just another exercise in boundaries.

One thought on “Facebook – friend or foe?

  1. Dearest Rivki,

    Thank you so much. I really appreciate that you took the time to write this, and for being (as usual) so honest and get-to-the-pointish about the issue.

    I (sincerely) love you and miss you and appreciate your communication via any form.

    Back to Pesach cleaning!

    Much love,
    though its counterintuitive, we are not in Switzerland for Pesach- we were there for Erev. My brother-in-law is there with his family for Pesach. So we cleared out last week. We are at Rabbi Chalkowski for the week of Pesach (I’m sure you have fab. plans, but I wish you were here!).

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