Facebook and Friendship
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It is the general idea that since the launch of Facebook in 2004, it has become a popular means of communication for people, on the one hand, and a time waster, on the other hand. It is evident that people all over the world spend more time on Facebook or other social network websites than on any other websites. Therefore, this results in much concern in psychologists and other scholars. Despite the Facebook’s positive benefit, which gives an opportunity to stay in touch with friends who live in different countries and states, it interrupts the real communication and affects the relationships between people. Consequently, a person is addicted to a fictional life, where everything is virtual and far from reality. Facebook provides us with an opportunity to live a different life and have imaginary friendship and relationships. However, without normal verbal and nonverbal communication in the real life, we are becoming more introverted, lonely, and depressed. Sometimes we realize that when it is too late to change anything. Therefore, in this paper, I would like to discuss my personal experience of having a Facebook friend, and analyze how my friendship was affected by social network communication. Moreover, the paper also discusses the drawbacks of my friendship, and my personal statement of how such friendship might be improved.
All of us are often warned that Facebook negatively affects our personal life, communication abilities, and the general idea of what the friendship is. It is obvious that all online users are constantly looking for a way to keep in touch with their acquaintances and friends, and to maintain their presence online. Therefore, at first, I was very suspicious about joining the Facebook network. All of my friends were confident that Facebook would not affect them, and saw only positive sides of it. In the end, I decided to join Facebook, as I was interested in why all of my peers were so impressed by it. Having joint it, I did not feel much difference at the beginning, as I rarely communicated with my friends online. I used it more as a browser to watch movies and to listen to music online.
In a couple of months, I started communicating with a person who seemed very interesting and appealing to me. I have never seen the person’s face, and I did not know how the person looked like. However, I was deeply impressed with the personality and character of this person. Consequently, I began to spend much time in Facebook, waiting for the person to appear online. I abandoned my favorite hobbies and my real friends, as all of my free time I was spending online. I gained weight, and my academic grades became very low, as I often used my mobile phone to go on Facebook.
After a couple of months, my parents and I had a serious conversation about my Facebook relationships which resulted in unacceptable behavior. I realized that it was wrong to have just Facebook communication without any other real communication. That was when I understood that it was high time for me to meet my Facebook friend in reality.
After our meeting, everything changed. I was truly disappointed to find out that the person I had considered my best friend was far from the one I had imagined. It appeared that my friend gave a lot of false information about himself in the Facebook profile. Our conversation was rather boring and we had nothing in common, as we had different lifestyles, backgrounds, and characters. We have never communicated after the meeting.
After the following situation, I decided to reduce my Facebook communication to minimum. I felt rather lonely, as there was no one to whom I could talk and discuss my life. I had to work hard to improve my grades and pass my exams. These months took all of my time, so I had no time to study. Finally, I managed to earn back the respect of my teachers.
As far as my old friendships are concerned, I was not able to earn back their trust and friendship. They could not understand what happened to me and why I stopped talking to them. As a matter of fact, my Facebook reality ruined my life reality in some way.
In a couple of months, I returned to my normal life. I started seeing other people, made new friends, and stabilized my relationships with parents. As for my Facebook account, I did no delete it. Sometimes, I still visit Facebook, but I do not allow myself to get addicted to it. I do not share any personal information and pictures, avoid “liking” other people’s posts, and do not communicate with people whom I do not know in my real life.
From the situation described above, it is evident that face-to-face communication became less common and important to me, and communication with a stranger in a virtual world became more acceptable. Consequently, I was witnessing how Facebook is helping to foster the society that values more frequent communication than meaningful communication.
The real life emotions available in physical communication were replaced with fabricated elements and emotions. Moreover, the profile information of the person appeared to be not real, as he wanted to create an image different from the one in his real life. I was excited to see the pictures of my friend and communicate with him online, but I did not like what I saw in reality. That is the evidence showing that the whole Facebook world is not real. We develop an image of each friend in our heads and live a perfectly imagined life.
This scenario cannot work for long, as sooner or later we find out who is the real person we are communicating with, and we might not like him or her.
The main difference of Facebook communication and face-to-face communication is that you do not actually see the person, her or his reactions, and emotions. So, there is a lack of trust between two people. The lack of trust influences the communication, and therefore, makes it shallower and not long-lasting. Consequently, it leads to the confusing situation, which in my case, has immensely affected my life.
Moreover, Facebook communication, in my case, resulted in addiction. I got used to communication with the person online, and I could not help sitting in front of my computer for hours waiting for my friend to appear online. This addiction negatively influenced my other relationships, my academic performance, and my mental development. I stopped reading books and abandoned my hobbies, which impacted by personal development.
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In addition, the information I was communicating with my friend was personal in its nature. This person knew all about my life, feelings, likes, and dislikes. I freely provided details and images from my private life, overshared a variety of personal information that now seems inappropriate for public consumption. I gave up on my degree of privacy and this can have negative influences on my future life and career. A lot of people are unemployed because their potential employers found some offensive content on Facebook, which influenced their decision when choosing an appropriate candidate on a position.
On the one hand, Facebook friendship provided me with a person who was always available to support me, communicate with me, and share my secrets. On the other hand, I did not know if this person could be trusted. Of course, situations of unfaithful friendships appear in the real life very often, but we can at least see our friend’s reaction, his eyes, and facial expression when we are communication with him in reality. In case of virtual friendships, we do not see the person’s reaction, and we cannot understand if the person is lying to us, if he or she is sincere, etc.
Moreover, the lack of face to face communication undermined such skill as reading body language and other facilities of indirect communication. Such fact could influence people’s interacting in future, producing changes which would impact the evolution of social interaction. If I continued spending so much time in Facebook, I would probably be more indifferent to people and their social interaction. What could possibly happen is that I could become less emotional and careless to other people. Consequently, I would influence my social skills and result in depression.
Considering my personal experience of Facebook communication, I would like to conclude that sometimes it has negative effects on people’s lives. In my case, I was addicted to Facebook, abandoned my real life and friends, and paid no attention to my studies. That happened because I had no experience in such communication. I got disappointed when I saw my Facebook friend’s real face when I met him. However, if I knew this situation could happen, I would reduce my time spending in Facebook and avoid communicating with people whom I do not know. Therefore, the virtual friendship I had could not be improved. The fact that I did not know this person and trusted him my secrets resulted in an overwhelming situation which immensely affected my life. It took a lot of time for me to recover. In the first place, I should not have shared my secrets with a stranger, without getting to know him in reality.
Although Facebook offers many advantages to people, like meeting new people across the globe and keeping in touch with the old ones, most of the people waste their time on watching profiles of other users and living in a virtual world. As a matter of fact, this is not a positive habit. Some people even cannot help being disconnected from Facebook and spend hours sitting in front of their computer spying on other users. In fact, they do not do any constructive work using Facebook. Judging someone’s personality and one’s intellectual level by social network sites seems very common, but it can make people establish a false belief about someone, which happened in my case.
I would recommend people not to give up on real communication, and use Facebook only in emergency cases or very rarely. Otherwise, Facebook will negatively affect their life and consume all of their free time they could spend on themselves, reading books, being with their family, etc. Human life is short, and it should not be wasted on living in a virtual world and virtually communicating with strangers.
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