Feed on

Faces Not Facebook

This post is also available in: German

Facebook, and related internet social networking sites, don’t make you more friends:

Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace do not help you make more genuine close friends, according to a survey by researchers who studied how the websites are changing the nature of friendship networks.
Although social networking on the internet helps people to collect hundreds or even thousands of acquaintances, the researchers believe that face to face contact is nearly always necessary to form truly close friendships.

“Although the numbers of friends people have on these sites can be massive, the actual number of close friends is approximately the same in the face to face real world,” said Will Reader at Sheffield Hallam University.

I’m not surprised by this. My close circle of friends are still the ones I met the natural genetically-optimized way: in meatspace. I occasionally bump into a fellow Myspacer who recognizes me through their computer monitor, but we hardly ever move the interaction past the obligatory hellos.

Facebook and Myspace are one part attention whore canvas, one part Creative Class Rolodex, and one part alter ego resume. They basically serve as outlets for people, especially younger women, to “express themselves” and climb the status ladder by demonstrating their social value through their meme-generating links, musical tastes, witticisms, “spontaneous” nightclub photos, and vapid hourly updates on the daily tedium of their lives. When they’re not stamping the internet world with their unoriginal brand of detached irony, they use these sites to herd their threadbare acquaintances into one easily managed electronic address book, keeping tabs on everyone, like ranchers herding steer. It’s a social butterfly’s dream come true! Wide… but shallow.

Ultimately, friendships live and die by trust. No one becomes your good friend until they, and you, have earned each other’s trust. And that is where sites like Facebook fail:

But to develop a real friendship we need to see that the other person is trustworthy. “We invest time and effort in them in the hope that sometime they will help us out. It is a kind of reciprocal relationship,” said Dr Reader, “What we need is to be absolutely sure that a person is really going to invest in us, is really going to be there for us when we need them…It’s very easy to be deceptive on the internet.”

That’s the key right there. With a few vaguely intriguing photos (action shots work best for guys, semi-porn snapshots for girls), a list of concert tour dates, and insidery jokes from people leaving comments on your profile, a person can present him or herself in a way that is at odds with reality. We are making friends with digital people whose first impressions have been micromanaged and painstakingly handcrafted for hours (sometimes weeks!) beforehand. You’ll never truly know someone’s character unless you engage them in realtime where a raised eyebrow or a sly smile can carry more vital information than pages of spoogy internet masturbation.

It reminds me of a girl I once dated whose Myspace page was a months-long project of webdesigner-looking social status achievement. I met her at a bar before I knew about her Myspace page. Later, when she showed me her profile, I couldn’t believe the disconnect between her sweet real self and the raging sassypants she presented online.

Because I have advanced ADD, I get bored on these sites after two minutes. I need to see the person I’m talking to at least once in a while or I won’t put in any effort to maintain the friendship. Give me real life over this pointless shit any day.

Btw, I’m on Facebook. You can find me under killa, killing your beta zombie.


Comments are closed.