As I’ve mentioned in recent columns, I obviously think there is a lot worth noting (and for good reason) when it comes to talking about the Internet as a powerful player in the development of our culture as of late. However, I haven’t really acknowledged thus far the fact that life (with all its cyber dimensions included) has yet to take place only within a virtual-reality vacuum. That is, our experiences are not solely confined to the Internet.
If one of Facebook’s faults lies in the fact that it allows us to circumvent more traditional steps in relationship building (and, perhaps, consequently lessening the ability to forge “true” intimacy), then maybe one of its advantages is that – if allowed – it can also act as a meter by which we can better judge our interactions.
Love it or hate it, Facebook makes us accountable – both for what we do as well as don’t do – and although everyone I know bemoans the persistent existence of the “Newsfeed,” it does function as a valuable tool. With so much of our lives interactive and available to the general public, the efforts people make outside of Facebook (that is, in real life) become that much more obvious – and also more valuable considering how easy it is to write on someone’s wall versus actually calling them. Indeed, it seems fitting then, that a small – but growing – number of people are rejecting what social networking sites have made the new standard: namely, the careless “collecting” of barely there friends.
Anyone we meet – whether through a class, party or other friends – is a simple search and click away, if we so desire. But in turn, has that made us, in some cases, more protective of those that we do choose to “add” to our circle of friends? No one likes feeling like a number, and when it becomes apparent that this is where the trend is heading, I wholly relate to the few who have begun to put a bottom line on what it means to be their friend. It seems that a small backlash of sorts is occurring: One where instead of recklessly clicking “accept,” some will wait until their friendship transcends the limits of Facebook – thus the rejection of the much-abused virtual invitation of friendship leads, in turn, to the reaffirmation of what it means to be involved in any relationship (sexual or platonic) in an age heralded for blurring the lines between these traditional distinctions.
Kat Hargreaves welcomes comments at [email protected]