I know I’ve touched on this topic a lot already, but I don’t think I’ve specifically mentioned Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites in their ability to detach us from the real world, since we think online IS the real world. We put so much of ourselves out there online for tons of “friends” to see and it’s crazy how real life and the elusive “internet” have become intertwined. If you have a Facebook, for example, go to your profile and notice the categories: name, sex, birth-date, siblings, current city, hometown, relationship status, political views, religious views – I could go on and on! All of that information can tell you a lot about a person and that’s not even the half of it – all of the music, movies, television shows, and anything else you choose to include on your profile is fair game for someone to feel like they “know” you. People don’t truly know you unless they know you in person and have spent one-on-one time with you, therefore, these profiles can be dangerous to budding relationships who use technology as a crutch in their lives.
Communication is one of the most important devices we have as humans, but it’s the WAY we communicate dictates how relationships form. Picture this scenario: you just meet a potential friend/love interest for the first time and then you exchange numbers. Do you text them next or talk on the phone? Most people I know (including myself) text all of the time and it starts to become a replacement for phone conversations, since texting is more versatile in timing (sometimes you’re too busy to devote time to a phone call, but a text can be sent quickly). However, if you don’t know someone well enough, a long texting conversation can become the kiss of death. For instance, if you’re flirting over text, but you haven’t actually flirted in person yet, it’s super awkward to see the person again when you’ve only revealed your true feelings electronically. The same is true with Facebook: it’s like inviting someone into your home when you become “friends” because they can see what you’ve said to other people and vice versa. All of your information is there for others to see, even the embarrassing video of you singing a popular 90’s tune on your guitar (not that that’s personal experience or anything). If you don’t get to know someone’s interests from THEM, you’re not really getting to know them – you’re just getting to know the social networking site’s version of the real person.
As well, technology in general has made it so most everyone’s reachable anywhere; if you’re out and about, there’s your cell phone, and if you’re on Facebook or any social networking site, people can leave comments at any time just as long as your profile’s available. The Facebook “wall,” for example, is a lot like an internet thread just about you – people can judge you based on your language usage or freak out when your “single” status changes to “in a relationship.” Honestly, that relationship status bar is the worst thing ever – if you’re “single,” it’s all out there, but if you remove it all together, people assume you’re in a relationship or just non-committal. Whatever you put out there by yourself or change is public knowledge and some people are better at communicating through writing (guilty!) – it gives you a false sense of security, therefore, people say or do things they wouldn’t normally do in person using technology.
The question is, then, what is reality anymore? The internet, especially Facebook in this day and time, has become the “it” place to post as much as you want about yourself and communicate with people, despite the fact if they’re an acquaintance or a true friend. People years ago wouldn’t have even imagined that this could happen, but I have my reservations about the new state of communication. While I love technology, the internet, and everything that comes with it, nothing can change old-fashioned one-on-one communication. That will always be the be-all, end-all for me. Especially for budding relationships, talking in person and developing a comfort level is what really constitutes friendship. I just hope someday, we don’t lose that all together because that’s what makes us human: our ability to converse with each other and develop valuable bonds. In order for this world to work, the physical and vocal aspects have to come together – we can’t do it alone behind our computer screens.