Facebook Breaking Down Real Relationships

One of Facebook’s main selling points is that it builds closer ties among friends and colleagues. But some who steer clear of the site say it can have the opposite effect of making them feel more, not less, alienated.

“I wasn’t calling my friends anymore,” said Ashleigh Elser, 24, who is in graduate school in Charlottesville, Va. “I was just seeing their pictures and updates and felt like that was really connecting to them.”

To be sure, the Facebook-free life has its disadvantages in an era when people announce all kinds of major life milestones on the Web. Ms. Elser has missed engagements and pictures of new-born babies. But none of that hurt as much as the gap she said her Facebook account had created between her and her closest friends. So she shut it down.

from “Shunning Facebook and Living to Tell About It

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

4 Responses to Facebook Breaking Down Real Relationships

  1. James says:

    I think this is certainly a possible outcome, but only one, more dependent on personal choices and habits than it is the fault of Facebook or other social media.

    We recently had a personal event that really made the true value of Facebook come through. My in-laws were among those on the ACU bus that crashed. Because of Facebook, we were able to keep friends, family, and churches abreast of all that was happening, and it didn’t just keep people informed. Prayers and words of encouragement came in at a stream that is simply impossible on the phone. And the phone calls did come, largely because of what people were seeing on Facebook. I had a call from a very good friend before I could even post to Facebook because others had. It was a tremendous blessing to be able to communicate and to do so with so many in ways the phone simply can’t do.

    All that to say, it’s just a medium. What we do, or don’t do, with or because of it says more about us than the technology, I think.

  2. As James said, in times of tragedy it is a great way to keep friends and family informed – and gives them a convenient way to express prayers and condolences.

    However, it cannot take the place of a phone call or a face to face meeting. I have appreciated how it has helped me “catch up” with people I have known in the distant past. Yet, it has not really made our “relationship” closer or stronger – at least not in most cases.

  3. James Wood says:

    The inability to differentiate a Facebook interaction from more meaningful relational time is the fault of the user, not the service. I have no doubt that people were saying the same thing when the telephone came around, that it lacks a personal touch and it keeps people from connecting face-to-face. Some people eschew voicemail or text messaging for the same reason.

    It comes down to our ability, or inability, to understand and use different forms of communication in the most appropriate ways. Facebook isn’t a deep-level relational tool, and if you’re expecting it to served that purpose you will always be disappointed. In the same way, you shouldn’t have a deep conversation over dinner with everyone you meet at a conference.

    • mattdabbs says:

      You are right, this is highly dependent upon the mentality and maturity of the user. I have used Facebook with our 20s & 30s to communicate some things to our group that have been extremely helpful. It has its uses.

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