Tonight, as I mulled over several thoughts and frustrations in my mind that only come to me after midnight, I came to an interesting thought. How do friendships relate to the internet, specifically facebook? Can you have a successful relationship over the internet? Instantly, thousands of ideas flood into your head. What about the successes of eHarmony and other such sites? Long distance friends? Keeping up with old high school friends? While there is proof that relationships can be created and sustained over the internet, they also can fall apart. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not condemning the use of facebook or other internet social sites. I am rather going to look at the proper way to have a internet friendship.
Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends across the world. Where as texting, phoning or mail costs money, facebook is basically free (if you don't count the cost of internet). You can find where old friends you've lost touch with over the years have ended up. Its quick and easy to stay updated with other people's lives. But how much of this represents friendship? Because of my age, I have seen people adopt different personalities on the internet. Heck, I'm one of those people. On facebook, I have less restraints that hold me back from saying funny quips or sharing emotions and such. This is because I have a strength in the written word. Spoken word, not so much. So on facebook, I can appear more outgoing and social than I would in person, especially with a person I know little about. I think that the internet, for a lot of people, takes away many inhibitions that people have in talking to someone face to face. Its like a separate person for them. So to view what you see on facebook as the real person can cause some major problems in dealing with that person. You may gain expectations that they can't fulfill. You may see things that don't seem of character of that person and taint your view of them, with a "what else are they hiding?" approach.
So how is this conquered? Basing the bulk of a friendship on facebook can turn it in the wrong direction. There are 2 things that we can do. First, simply, is to remember that this may not be the whole person you know. Especially if you don't know that person outside of the internet. Ask questions of why they put certain things on their page in person. That way you can get a better and more accurate answer. It may be a misunderstanding or hidden aspects you never knew. This way, you can learn more about the person that you ever could by simply creeping their profile. I'd say thats a win for face to face talking.
The second is a bit more complicated. It involves watching what we put on facebook. Whether we like it or not, it will affect parts of relationships, for better or worse. There are people I see on facebook that put just random thoughts that they would never say in public as their statuses. Then people get offended that you looked at this private information. We must realize that what we put on the internet can be views by anyone. It becomes public information. The internet is not our own private world. If you would never say something to someone's face, then leave it off facebook. That causes people to get confused and cause misunderstandings. Whenever I write something like this, I am fully aware that someone will read it. I write it so that people will read it and take something from it, whether its a deep thought or funny one liner. (Now I realize that you would not see me spewing this in person, but that's because I organize my thoughts better when I'm alone and I can type them out). Even inside jokes can confuse people. It is so important to remember that facebook is a representation of you to those you know. So be who you were made to be.
Facebook has become a major force in our society, as well as other social networking sites. Electronic talking controls much of our socialization today. Am I against using the internet as a social tool? No, I am simply saying that because it is so powerful, we must be as careful on it as we are with people around us everyday. There is so much potential in these things to expand our social barriers, but there is also dangers. I need to remember this as much as anyone. People can be stupid on facebook. It can look really bad on their part to you. But I will continue to try and represent myself as accurately as I can to those I call facebook friends.