Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Facebook Facade

There has been some buzz about the estimation of Facebook's worth as the company approaches publicly selling shares this spring. The article Facebook Sets Historic IPO on The Wall Street Journal's website discusses how the social networking giant's value is estimated between $75 billion and $100 billion. This would put the company in the position of having the biggest U.S. stock-market debuts of all time. Facebook owes its success to the hundreds of millions of users that sign on to their site each day. Facebook's revenue is driven mostly by online ads. Through information shared by users and the use of Like buttons all over the web, marketers are able to target their ads towards a specific demographic. With its enormous amount of users and targeted ads, it is easy to see how Facebook could have a historic initial public offering.

The overwhelming popularity of online social networking makes me wonder about the effects on interpersonal relationships. We have been talking about what it means to be a person and what defines person-hood. A person has the unique presence of both the material and immaterial. A person has a mind and emotions that go beyond the physical. What happens when that person is reduced to pictures and text on a computer screen? Do those that are "friends" of this person really know who the person truly is?

We have also been reading the book Hurt People Hurt People by Sandra Wilson which discusses the hurt that people can inflict on each other. Part of the way that hurt individuals can work towards healing is through improved relationships with others. In the present age of online social networking is Facebook having a positive or negative effect on relationships?

My personal opinion is that the use of social networking sites can aid in the development of surface level relationships but does not help with deeper relationships. The information that an individual puts out on Facebook is not true to who the person is deep inside. Each picture is scrutinized as to how it portrays the person. Each bit of information shared is analysed to present the individual in the manner that they choose. A person can portray who they want to be rather then expose who they truly are. The interactions on Facebook can help to keep distant friends in touch but it is hard to delve much deeper. I believe that the true person is hidden behind a facade and relationships are limited to surface level interactions. I think that in order to truly know a person there needs to be direct in-person interaction.


  1. I could not agree more in that Facebook provides us with an opportunity to develop only surface-level relationships at best. Between Facebook, texting, email, and all the other means of communication that technology today offers us, I am concerned that we are diminishing in social skills that are utilized in face-to-face interactions. Also, I am consistently surprised at how many people I see out in public on their phones or laptops when they are in the presence of their acquaintances, friends, and family members. This is concerning because this also hinders communication that could possibly occur at a deeper level. Additionally, I have heard of research that has found that those who use social networking websites are more likely to feel isolated and lonely, which is definitely a sobering and interesting discovery. God created us for relationships with each other, and social networking sites like Facebook do not even come close in meeting this God-given need.

  2. This is true. I have thought about this the past year a lot. For example on your birthday you may receive up to a hundred or more birthday wishes, but how many actually take the time to call you and hear your voice. How many of those friends even actually have your number? I personally have learned that people look at your status to assume how you are doing in life. For example I can put up an encouraging Bible verse and people assume I am happy and not hurting at all when in reality I may be going through some painful experiences that I need prayer for. In order for most facebook friend to know things you have to post them, but for deep relational friends, they will speak with you in person and know there could be something wrong regardless of what ones profile says. I think more people should be aware that more is going on in their lives than facebook reveals. We need to see the needs not the deeds. Facebook is great for global connections and relational encouragement and updates, but it contains more shallow friends than anything. It is often also used more for outside appearances than learning inside character. It is also interesting how much facebook can be used to hurt people. It is important to look and think deeper about people than seen on facebook. Thanks for the thought

  3. Facebook has become the "anti-social" network that removes people from face-to-face contact. As one could imagine, this may have negative implications for users such as impaired social skills. The lack of tone and body language also creates miscommunications that may even harm the relationships the facebook user is trying to maintain. Another possible symptom of facebook use may be depression. In a blog article by a writer for Psychology Today, one study found that facebook users often perceive the lives of their "friends" as being better and happier than their own. These friends post pictures that accentuate their appearance (and hides their flaws) and portray many happy events full of laughter and fun (even though this is far from the truth). Also, any accomplishments are likely exaggerated. Because of the skewed view that users have of their friends' lives, they will often find their own life to be much worse than it truly is and depressive symptoms occur. The article suggests that users may be happier if they stopped using facebook altogether!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.