Monday, August 29, 2011

what facebook is and isn't

I can survive on Facebook if I bear in mind it is a place for touching base, sharing plans and events, talking about recent experiences and showing pictures - all as quickly as possible. That's what it's good at.

I have problems when I want it to be more than that: conversations that last more than a few sentences, weighty subject matter that requires people to pull out of the fast lane and slow down and think, bringing up topics that take time to respond to. Yes, I've already been frustrated this summer by expecting all those things from Facebook but, the truth is, when people log on, that's not what they're there for. They don't want heavy - Facebook is lightweight. They don't want something that's time-consuming - they want instant, they want fast. They aren't looking to discuss the issues of the eternal ages - they want to laugh and skim and, if necessary, succinctly express sympathy (no less heartfelt for that).

So you touch base on Facebook, stay aware of what's happening in people's lives, connect with people you haven't seen in years and whom you wouldn't be able to stay connected to without Facebook. That's what Facebook is good at. The long talks, the weighty talks, are best done by phone (usually a land line as opposed to a cell, since a cell is also about FAST and INSTANT, unless a cell is the only phone you've got) or face-to-face.

Of course, the worry is that people will freeze into the Facebook Way forever and that long talks, listening, thinking and wondering will cease to be part of their lives. The worry is that the whole human race will go that way and that the human part of human being will be greatly diminished.

But I find that people who talk on Facebook still talk a lot in person. There may be those who are withdrawing into their virtual worlds but most people, I think, want hi touch along with hi tech - they want to be with real people in real time, face-to-face, as well as chat with them online. Maybe by 2050 it will be different but I don't think so. Regardless of the technology that's come our way over the past century, from cars to airplanes to computers, people still want to mingle with people, touch people, kiss people.

So let Facebook be Facebook. And when you want Face-to-Face move away from Facebook and get it.

If I just use Facebook three days a week to touch base, I'm okay. Then I don't expect it to give me what it won't give me - deep relationship.

For that we all need to go elsewhere.

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