facebook: friend or foe?
August 17, 2008 § 2 Comments
Last night, I went to a party where I saw some old friends from high school that had long since disappeared from my life. It was a lot of fun. And it was all due to facebook.
For someone my age (32), facebook has been a boon. I’ve reconnected with many people I’ve wondered about and can keep in touch with their lives going forward. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, but after so many years without any contact, it’s been a great tool to reconnect.
But what about those who grow up with facebook? Those who live their whole lives always reconnecting? What is the value of disconnecting?
Having graduated from high school in 1994, it was very easy to get lost after high school. Those first few years, people largely went their separate ways, even if they didn’t move far away. After all, hardly anyone I knew had a cell phone and the Internet was a far, far cry from what it is today. So, for the vast majority of us, we completely lost touch with each other. And while part of that was unfortunate, it was also great. Having the ability to get lost was a way to break free, escape the judgment of the past, find your own path, and yes, find new friends that had no idea who your old friends were—or if you even had any.
This was something many people actually looked forward to—and some of us really needed. For instance, one of the people I saw last night I hadn’t seen since graduation. While I wondered where she was and how she was doing, she did exactly what she needed to do by disconnecting, by getting lost. And in that lostness, she seems to have found herself. Trite. Cliché. But true. And completely common.
So as I look out on a generation full of facebook users, I see the social world that enables disconnection dying a rapid death. In its place comes a world where online social utilities serve a constant reminder of who you were, of constant reconnection.
I don’t know if this is a bad thing or a good thing or just another “thing” humans will adapt to. But I do wonder, what happens when we can’t get lost because we are always being found?