Monday, April 23, 2012

Does Facebook Make Me Lonely?

A friend just sent me a link to this article from the latest issue of The Atlantic magazine, entitled, "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?"

I think about this a lot. I feel like I am a too-frequent user of Facebook and I wish I could quit, but I can't bring myself to do it. My reasons for staying: I have so many great photos and videos of my nieces and nephews on there, it's a great place to network, and I don't want to miss out on anything because I'm off the grid.

Also, without Facebook my husband and I likely never would have gotten together. It's amazing how far a poke can take you.

Did it just get weird in here? Anyway...

I will say that having Facebook makes me far less interested in stopping an acquaintance on the street to see what they've been up to. Nowadays, it's more than likely I already know more about their life than I care to, because they probably just posted a retro-looking photo of the vegan chili they ate last night, along with a banal description of their weekend, so unless this person is someone with whom I feel a  real bond, I might just walk by and avoid their gaze. Is that gross? Probably.

But as to being "lonelier", I don't think that I as a new mother this fall will feel nearly as disconnected as my mother's generation would have, in the house with a baby all day with no grown-up human interaction except via the phone and the odd get-together with a  friend or neighbour. I will know that if I post about a baby-related issue I'm having, eight friends (or maybe just "friends") will be ready with helpful advice within the hour.  I've felt loneliness and that's not it.

Perhaps it's just that we're confused by the word "friend" which Facebook uses to label the people whose profiles you can view. Depending on how far you've cast your social net, most of these people may not be your friends; these people might be that guy you shot that one commercial with or that woman you met at that party, whose names pre-Facebook you wouldn't have remembered, but now you'll never forget because you have constant access to intimate details of their lives.  In the before time, you'd likely never have seen these people again, and if you had you'd likely not have remembered where you knew them from. The fact that they sit there in your friends list, almost strangers to you, doesn't mean you're disconnected from your friends. It just means you probably don't have 845 friends, like Facebook suggests. Maybe you only have 14, and only 3 of them are really good friends. And that's okay. Facebook doesn't have to dictate how you define friendship.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't stay in the house with the baby all day. You might go crazy. Speaking of going crazy, I don't know how our parents did it without the internet. I remember telling ChickenMummy what my baby was doing in utero one week and she was like, How do you know that? Ummm, internet, TMI all the time, in so many ways.

Anyway, go out with the baby. Make new Mum friends. The only time I'm lonely is at night, and that's when you will have the lovely Phil coming home, to help, to give you a break, to have adult conversation with, to marvel over the wee one with, to share all the good and bad with. And if he's ever away for a few nights then go stay with your Mum.
xoxoxok8, your always more than facebook friend