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Is Facebook destroying real relationships?

In this technological age, most people are members of some form of ‘social networking website’ – the likes of MySpace for those who make music, Bebo for the younger generation, LinkedIn for the business professionals and Facebook for almost, well, everybody. But is this necessarily a good thing? 

Facebook is great for keeping in touch with those friends and family that live far a-field.  It boasts over 70 different translations available on the site. So it’s reassuring to know that without physically seeing or being able to speak to a friend halfway across the world, you are able to keep in touch via Facebook.  With over 2.5 billion photos uploaded to the site each month, it’s a great way for out-of-reach friends / relatives to see what your new baby / latest haircut / newest boyfriend looks like.

However, in my view there are some major negatives to Facebook.  The biggest of these are the people that ‘hide’ behind their Facebook profile and become ‘socially’ lazy.  They end up with great virtual friendship but poor real ones.  With over 350 million active users and 50% of those users logging on everyday, I imagine there’s a lot of Facebookers who fall into this category.  Based on Facebook stats, an average user has 130 friends on the site, and an average user sends 8 friend requests per month!  That’s a LOT of friends. 

Communicating with mates on Facebook is now easier than face to face conversation. There’s no effort incurred. If you want to talk to them, you write back. If you don’t or cant be bothered, you reply later or not at all.  Although conversing via Facebook is still a form of communication, it’s often to the detriment of maintaining real face-to-face relationships.

I’d say there are two main types of Facebook users. Firstly there are those who have a life and only dip in and out of Facebook to keep up with the gossip or the latest status update (don’t even get me started on that self indulgent activity).  Then there are those who sadly do not and use Facebook to make up for it.

Sadly, if they’re not careful the latter group could soon forget what a friendship is like in the real world…

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The pains and the gains 18 months on

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