2 Reasons to love Facebook (and 3 reasons to hate it)

December 27, 2010

There is a force sweeping across the world that must be reckoned with. It has single-handedly changed modern communication, and it has already taken 500 million people into its ranks.

It is the social media phenomenon Facebook.

The New York Times reports that Americans are spending as much time online as they are in front of the television set. And a great deal of that time is Facebook related.

Facebook served over 500 million active users, and 50% of those users log on to Facebook in any given day. The average user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 pages, groups, and events. If Facebook was a country it would be the third-largest in the world.

In fact, the internet and social media realms in general are so pervasive and influential today that it’s startling:

  1. 96% of generation Y have joined a social network
  2. 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media
  3. Years to Reach 50 million Users:  Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)…Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months…iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.

The emergence of social media (especially Facebook), has blurred many lines and created lots of questions. There are stalwart proponents, as well as concerned critics.

Many contend that it’s simply an innocent and effective way to connect with people. While others ask “How many of those connections are necessary? And how much of it is healthy?”

Like most divisive issues, the controversy lies in the potential for both good and bad; depending on the use. Few would deny that there are positive possibilities and uses of Facebook, but neither do they deny the glaring negatives it creates.

Like many dangerous issues, there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of Facebook. Connecting with people can be a positive and fun thing. But with the good comes potential for some serious downside.

The good:

  • Great way to connect and communicate – Facebook is one of the easiest ways to keep up with friends, coworkers, family, and other acquaintances. For example, grandparents can see pictures and videos of their grandkids.
  • Easy way to connect and communicate – Want to catch up with that old school buddy from 20 years ago, but a phone call would be awkward? No problem. Simply “friend request” them and post on their “wall”.  It also enables users to keep up with people in other places or countries that they could not follow otherwise.

The bad:

  • ‘Virtualizing’ of relationships. – Many Facebook users spend more time interacting virtually with people across the country (or world) than they do with their own ‘real’ friends and family. Time that was once spent in personal interaction has been replaced with computer screens, virtual friends, and virtual interaction. Additionally, children can lead a double life and have ‘virtual friends’ that their parents would never approve of in ‘real life’. There is also the time stewardship issue-I have heard a lot of people complain that it is a time-waster.
  • Degradation of privacy – Facebook breaks down and muddles some boundaries of personal information and transparency. What is the point of Facebook? To share information. Some of the information is good; but much of it should not be shared. People use Facebook to spy, gossip, go behind people’s backs, and be nosy.
  • Inappropriate relational interaction – This is another area where Facebook blurs the lines. People say things on Facebook they would not say face to face. People share things on Facebook they would not share in ‘normal’ social situations. Married people can interact with members of the opposite sex online, when the same communication in ‘real life’ would be considered inappropriate. Millions of children and teenagers (as well as adults) develop harmful influences and inappropriate interactions through Facebook.

I believe in the power of the good elements; I also believe in the danger of the bad ones.

So is the good worth the bad?

Are there ways to maximize the good and avoid the bad? What are they?

Are you on Facebook? Why or why not?

Would the world be a better place if Facebook didn’t exist?

I want YOUR opinion -Comment below!