When listing the good qualities of Facebook, people often mention that it’s a great way of staying “in touch”.
Think about the word “touch” for a second. It has an intimate connotation to it. It’s the experience of someone else’s skin on your own. The feeling you get when you put a fluffy hoody on, or when you step on a wet lawn. Now think of Facebook.
Except for the message service, this social network is stripped of all intimacy. People load photos of themselves, their pets, their children, their friends, family members and pretty much any cute animal or random object that looks anything like anything.
It’s a compressed diary and photo album that makes even the most unsociable person look like they have an incredible life full of things and people.
This is not necessarily a bad thing as people use Facebook to construct an online identity. On Facebook they get to be who they want to be. They get to be that person with hundreds of friends and a repertoire of quirky statements. They can be Mrs Doubtfire when they’re really Robin Williams or Tyler Durden when they’re really Edward Norton. They get to “like” the books, movies, activities and artists that they think fit their online identity. They can share statuses with memorable quotes and updates on their exciting lives.
Unlike Twitter it gives people a platform to “connect” with other people. Often this connection is online only and the reality is quite disappointing.
I know this, because I’m guilty of all of these things. At least once a day or so.