The term social networking is deceiving. Since its creation over eight years ago, Facebook has become a dominating Internet force. Its 800 million active users spend more time there than on Yahoo, Google, AOL, YouTube, and Twitter combined. Facebook has tapped into the fundamental human need to communicate with other people, which is one of the reasons it has become so popular. Though we may have access to what seems like an unlimited source of “friends,” Facebook may actually be harmful to us as social beings.
Facebook creates social and physical isolation. Facebook interactions are minimal and impersonal. It can strengthen our weaker relationships with acquaintances but also weaken what were once the strong ties of closer relationships. People feel less inclined to contact their family and close friends over the phone or meet with them in person because they already feel connected and updated with them via Facebook.
Facebook also leads to an increase of insecurities. Cyber bullying is a term that refers to new form of harassment that takes place online. Facebook acts as a platform where people can say harmful things, which they wouldn’t say to people in person but which still cause deep pain to the victims. In addition, Facebook causes people to compare themselves to others, making them feel bad about their lives. People who are already insecure feel worse because they will never be as good looking, successful or happy as others appear to be.
It’s important that people recognize Facebook as just one form of interaction. Maintaining close relationships, social skills, and self-esteem requires a balanced mix of the other types of communication as well.
Justin Peters, “On Facebook and Freedom,” November/December 2011, Colombia Journalism Review. “http://www.cjr.org/essay/on_facebook_and_freedom.php?page=all” http://www.cjr.org/essay/on_facebook_and_freedom.php?page=all
Rachna Jain, “Four Ways Social Media is Changing Your Relationships,” June 2010, Socialmediaexaminer.com. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/4-ways-social-media-is-changing-your-relationships/
Rebecca Sweeny, “Social Networking Sites; More Harm Than Good,” April 2011, Networkconference.netstudies.org. “http://networkconference.netstudies.org/2011/04/social-networking-sites-more-harm-than-good/” http://networkconference.netstudies.org/2011/04/social-networking-sites-more-harm-than-good/
Student Researcher: Devery Sheffer, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Ken Burrows, San Francisco State University
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