Saturday, July 15, 2017

Facebook: A Necessary Evil



Facebook is an interesting Social Media Network system that was extremely intriguing when it first came out. When I started using it in 2007, I added everyone: family members, friends, co-workers, close acquaintances, and people that I met for the first time. I think it was a way to make each other feel more popular and to have more self-worth. It was cool to log on and randomly see posts from various people that you've encountered in your life. But over the years, Facebook got bigger, it kept changing, and certain aspects of Facebook got annoying.

What's Negative About Facebook?

Over the years, Facebook then decided that it would no longer show posts in chronological order. It would show posts to people that you interacted with the most. Well, that doesn't sound so bad. But if you have 1,000 friends, the chances are that you might interact with 10-20 of them consistently because they're directly a part of your life while the other 980-990 people accidentally get ignored. Due to that reason and a few other reasons, my love for Facebook dropped.

I had to find a way to keep in touch with more people, so I decided to shed some of my "friends". I unfriended former students that I hadn't talked to in years, people that used to be close to me but fell off the face of the Earth, former coworkers that were great to work with but we have nothing in common with while never really talking to each other, and acquaintances that I met through other people. Sometimes the lines are a bit blurred, which is one reason that Facebook sometimes frustrates me. The standard for Facebook friends varies depending on who you talk to. Yet because the Facebook logarithm changed to only show you people that you interact with the most, I felt like it would be a waste of time to keep "friends" that I never interact with on a daily basis. On top of that Facebook assumed we weren't close, so I would seldom see their posts anyway, which made it more of a reason to "unfriend" them.

Next, even if you have a friends list that you're satisfied with, that doesn't mean that those people you care about the most will keep in touch with you. Let's just be honest. Technology has made us lazy. We used to write handwritten letters on a fairly consistent basis. Then we got lazy doing that. Then e-mail came into existence and we used to email people regularly. Now we don't even do that often. Social media was born and now we rarely send Facebook messages (which is the simplest form of communication) to our family or friends. And when we do send messages, people are slow when it comes to replying back. This just happened recently when I sent a heartfelt message to a family member a few days ago. She read it the same day and still hasn't responded. Human beings are sinfully indolent. And I can honestly say that I'm guilty of that as well. I don't call my dad often enough, but I also blame it on my introverted nature. I hate talking on the phone.

Another thing I don't like about Facebook is that if you post something and you don't get any "likes" or comments, you might get hurt and think that no one really cares about your posts. I've even gotten slightly resentful towards friends who normally would "like" my posts but then stop clicking the "like" button for a certain period. This in itself made me want to drop Facebook altogether. I don't want to rely on petty stuff like this to keep me feeling that I'm important. Thankfully, I don't care as much now because I'm married and keep myself busy. The best way to stop being sensitive over receiving "likes" or comments is to keep yourself active away from your computer. If you spend hours on Facebook waiting for these ridiculous and silly signals of affirmation, you'll be miserable. Get outside, hang out with your friends, and get away from Facebook for a couple of days. Keep your mind healthy.

Finally, people get extra sensitive regarding politics, religion, and even sports on Facebook. Because you can't see people's emotions or facial expressions, it's much easier to read into things too much and get offended fast. Arguments between friends develop over these issues if people misunderstand posts or just don't know how to disagree politely. Friends that normally disagree politely in person might not be so polite on the internet. Also reading a controversial article can be very damaging to the soul if you continue on and read the comments. The worst in people come out, so it's best to not even read the comments or you might want to react in a negative way.

However, this post is not to bash Facebook. Although I've contemplated shutting down my account on numerous occasions, I've kept using it for various reasons. And that's what I'll share about now.

What's Positive About Facebook?

First, it's not a bad way to find out about current events. Popular news items come up fast on my newsfeed, so it's very easy to keep up with what everyone is talking about. That includes what ridiculous handshake Donald Trump is giving to another president in the world, what people think about the new Spiderman movie, or what events are happening in Seoul during the week. Facebook is a very useful tool when it comes to being aware of what's happening in the world.

Secondly, yes there are people that I unfriended that I didn't normally keep in contact with. But there are close acquaintances that I have who I enjoy hearing from even though we may never hang out together.  1.  I have old high school friends that were cool to me in high school but we didn't talk until we found each other on Facebook. 2. I'm still in contact with three of my high school teachers and love reading their posts. 3. There are a few acquaintances from church that I thought were cool who I still interact with online. 4. A few people that I used to work post pictures of their babies, which is nice to see. Maybe some of these people aren't actually friends, but if they're good people, I keep them on my friend's list.

Next, it's been easy to organize my pictures. I don't want to throw all of my pictures on a hard drive. I don't trust my computer that much and even though an external hard drive can have a lot of space, I'm worried that it might not work 10 years from now. Facebook allows me to keep thousands of pictures in various albums as long as Facebook doesn't shut down. However, I don't see that happening any time soon.

Finally, if I'm having a bad day, sometimes it's nice to log on to Facebook and try to get my mind off of what's bothering me. I can either see a post about something tragic that makes me thankful about my life or I might see someone post an animal video that makes me laugh. Of course as a Christian, reading my Bible and praying comes first but searching for interesting posts on Facebook as a way to relieve my stress is okay once in awhile.

Final Thoughts

Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Not necessarily. Facebook can cause myself to waste a lot of time, but I do need it as a way to keep in contact with family and interesting people that I may not ordinarily keep in touch with. I just need to make sure that I use my time wisely and use Facebook sparingly. Too much of anything is dangerous and that definitely includes Facebook.

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)

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