I've begun questioning the purpose of my existence on Facebook this weekend.
You all know Facebook, that wonderful invention that allows individuals to reconnect and share pictures, links and information about themselves, that allows them to reconnect with people they haven't talked to in years. It's a social extravaganza, a sort of ultimate reunion and new friend engine rolled into one.
Over the course of about 3 years that I have had the account, I have had the privilege of catching up with a number of people that I have lost track of over the years: high school friends long disappeared into the mists of life, a college friend or two - even my family has taken a swing at it. As mentioned, it is great for keeping people up to date and keeping up to date with peoples' lives: seeing them, seeing their pictures, seeing their jokes and their comments.
But watching Facebook over the past three months has made me doubt my decision to continue to exist there.
Why? Because in the last three months I've come to see that Facebook is creating even more of a society that is unable to have serious discussions about serious issues.
The issue is this: someone posts a comment. Someone else posts a comments disagreeing with them - but since this is Facebook, this person may or may not have a relationships with them have a years long understanding of them and their situation. Instead, it is just a comment. They respond with their opinion. Typically, the discussion quickly breaks down after that into a series of naming calling and accusations until, at last, it peters out.
Where does that leave the drive by participant - me, for example, who can see all of this even if I chose not to participate? Either saddened or angry, offended or depressed - because I too react to the words as I see them on the screen. At Face Value.
The reality is that this is may be creating a more "connected" environment but it is hardly creating one that is more thoughtful. Instead words are bandied about like clubs and axes. The ability to think, to discuss, to debate is buried beneath a wave of being in for the instant response. It becomes the written form of verbal shouting.
And so I find myself more often than not either fuming at the screen or shaking my head. I find myself more and more reluctant to engage in any discussion not directly personal or humorous in nature. More and more questioning why I even bother to spend my time looking at or posting on Facebook at all.
It's not that I don't enjoy reconnecting with my friends - I do. But what I am finding is that Facebook has become less and less of the coffee house where you relax and meet and more and more of the friend's home you visit where you always end up leaving early because you feel uncomfortable.
I used to believe that chat rooms and texting would be the death of meaningful communication. I think I've changed my opinion.