Facebook: the social networking Web site killing our social advancement

By Remy Soni

Happy belated birthday, Facebook. This past Wednesday, the social networking Web site celebrated its success, since its creation five short years ago. Founder Mark Zuckerberg noted the hard work that went into making Facebook the largest social networking site, overtaking MySpace by about 20 million users. Its impressive results are just a minor aspect when considering just how much Facebook has revolutionized communication.

Simply put, everyone and their neighbor are using Facebook. Originally created for Harvard students, the Web site has gone on to access for everyone over the age of 13. Personally, I think the strides that Facebook has made for keeping in touch with one another are massive, and the Web site is a helpful tool for college students, relatives across the world, co-workers and others. However, it makes one wonder. Whatever happened to talking to someone in person or even on the phone?

It seems that either one of these methods of communication is now associated with the Dark Ages. A couple of weeks ago, I saw someone pushing buttons on her cell phone and thought that she was either trying to text message someone or was looking through her directory for a number to call. Wrong. Her Web-enabled phone allowed her to access Facebook, have an instant chat and write on a friend’s wall.

Why not just use the phone to call your friend? It’s amazing just how much we place convenience over more personal interaction. In some instances, it has gotten to the point where people would rather write on someone’s Facebook wall when they’re in the same room as that person. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m really questioning the logic behind that. Easily pressing some numbers on a phone and actually hearing a person’s voice does not seem to have the same effect that it once did.

I understand the ever-changing nature of our world and the need to further technological advancements, but sometimes, I wonder how much we rely on Web sites such as Facebook. For example, instead of calling up my buddy Joe to see if he wants to go to the ARC, I can check out his Facebook status and notice that he “feels like craaaaap.”

The scariest part about Facebook’s growth is the fact that more than half its users are not college students. People who are 30 years old and over are actually using the web site at a quicker rate than students here at the U of I. Does this mean that Facebook is going to follow us for the rest of our lives? Will the world only be a click away from seeing every time one of us has married, had kids, divorced, traveled, been promoted at work and retired? Everyone keeps talking about how this is just the beginning for social networking, and although it’s a sign of our progress, it depresses me to think about what will happen to face-to-face interaction.

People skills have always been important, and we don’t necessarily want the younger generations to think that they can bypass those for convenience’s sake.

Facebook is great, in moderation, but let’s just make sure we don’t forget our roots. Call somebody or meet up with him or her in person. Replace a little Facebook with some face time. Go up to people on the street and share your status with them. Behind the awkward looks on their faces, I’m sure they’ll be deeply moved by your commitment to successful human interaction. You can poke them where it counts: in the heart.

Remy is a junior in communication/English and does not have a status today. Maybe you’ll just have to ask him in person.