There was an interesting article in Saturday’s NY Times called Anti-Social Networking?which raised the question whether Facebook was actually impeding kids’ ability to form real world friendships.
On the positive side, it was cited that kids tend to keep in touch and communicate more often and with more people through Facebook then they did in previous generations when you’d have to pick up the phone or actually get together in person.
It was also noted as an important means for shy kids to engage socially when they alternative is often no contact at all.
However, on the negative side, communicating through social networks can be more fleeting and superficial than in person (or even on the phone) contact and can’t really replicate the kind of bonds that are formed from spending a whole day shooting the breeze with one good friend.
From my perspective as a parent of a Tween, I found myself agreeing with many of the positive and negative points in the article.
But it also made me wonder whether Facebook was good or bad for adult relationships.
On the plus side, I’ve reconnected with many childhood, camp, and college friends through Facebook that I am sure I wouldn’t have had the time or the means to find without it.
And in many cases, this contact has become a regular and important part of my life.
I don’t find that keeping up with my friends on Facebook has replaced a desire to see them in person.
I may not get together with them as often as I’d like, but I don’t think that’s because I’m “seeing” them on Facebook.
I chalk it up to the constraints of our busy lives.
When I do get to see friends in person, I feel like Facebook allows me to start the conversation in the middle instead of the beginning. In a way, I know what they’ve been up to from posts and pictures and I can jump right in with questions and observations.
However, when I step back and think about it…maybe I am able to continue these friendships on Facebook because they were formed in the real world.
From hours spent studying, playing, summering, and sometimes working together…in person.
So Facebook becomes an additional layer to a friendship…but not the primary one on which all interaction is based and built.
For me it highlights the importance of making sure my kids are spending real quality time in person with their friends.
Then they can post all the pictures and “post-game” commentary they want.
Probably good advice for grown-ups too.
That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Do you think Facebook is good or bad for friendships?