Facebook – good for your social life, or a waste of time?

Posted on: 19/03/2009

By Henry Rothery
Recently I was having a conversation with a friend about Facebook. They had just changed the layout on the site, and everyone was up in arms – as if somehow this had ruined their lives.  “There have been bigger catastrophes in life” I thought.  The question over whether Facebook be so important in our lives has occurred to me often as I have spent many an hour on it, whilst actually not doing very much at all.

I have a Facebook account, I send messages on it, I arrange meetings with my friends and it makes life just that little bit easier. Great, wonderful. Then you can chat with your friends – OK, good for a quick chat. But then people want to have long conversations about their lives and I thought – wouldn’t this be better if we were actually talking face to face. 

You can’t convey any emotion, not even sarcasm, through words and we are losing social skills. There is a danger that more and more people will become social drones, whose lives will be held on the internet.  I knew someone at school, who was like that, and it didn’t really go well for him – he found it very difficult in school, a situation where he had to talk to people. 

For years people have led perfectly happy lives using the basic human skill of talking and interacting with people. The internet has made life much less personal, it should be a convenience but not a way of living. 

On the other hand, I have been reunited with a couple of friends from primary school through Facebook just purely because everyone is on there and it has great potential to reunite people.  You can share happy memories with the 5000 photos uploaded each day with your many hundreds of friends. 

From that point of view, I like Facebook, it’s just like a photo album – a place where happy memories can be stored, and embarrassing moments preserved forever. 

There are also concerns over privacy of information – what do Facebook know about you? If there was a microphone recording all your conversations with your friends and feeding them onto a computer, because that, frighteningly, is what happens on Facebook. There is someone else in all your conversations, building up information on you. Perhaps this attitude is a little exaggerated, because it is highly unlikely that any corporation would use people’s data badly. But there is still the thought that someone outside your control knows information about you. 

I like to meet people face to face, go out and have real conversations, but I don’t feel that Facebook is evil or serves no purpose.  It is a place to get connected and meet new people, but not to live.

Do you agree with Henry? What is your opinion of Facebook and similar sites? Add your comments below.  


3 Responses to "Facebook – good for your social life, or a waste of time?"

To be fair Henry, Facebook is a way of chatting to people pretty much free of charge, surely if you want that kind of conversation with someone you would call them? Plus, if you haven’t seen these people in a long time and they ‘want to have long conversations about their lives’ you could just ask if they want to meet up?

Facebook is definately addictive, that cannot be denied; this simply runs into the classic ‘all in moderation’ argument. A little bit of Facebook is okay, but too much can turn you into a zombie.

I got a virus off Facebook a while ago, and was locked out of my account for about two months. I finally got it sorted after many an email to their customer services department (a different rant for a different time there) and found something wonderful. I no longer have a Facebook dependency. I don’t spend hours doing random, irritating, pointless quizzes in order to find out my old lady name. It’s brilliant. Now I only use it for sharing photos and arranging meetings with friends, so we can do ‘real’ social stuff, and for this, I am grateful. Facebook has some good features, but it also has a lot of rubbish.

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