Once upon a time people use to have to call, write letters (gasp), or actually visit those they wanted to keep up with. It involved time, effort, and was most definitely a two way relationship.
Jump ahead to present day ----- Now people are too busy for relationships, but they desperately still want (and need) to have relationships. So in our "drive thru mentality" we all pop onto Facebook, scroll through our feed to get the highlights from one another's lives - see who had new babies and who is doing something cool, and then leave feeling like somehow we've connected with all our friends in a mere 10 minutes.
You are kidding yourself people!
If you are seeing what is going on in my life without so much as talking to me about it - that is NOT a friendship. At best it is a stalker relationship where you see what we are doing, but don't engage at all.
The sad thing is that in our culture, that is what is passing for friends these days. You'll actually see a friend in person at the grocery store or library and you'll say hi. You try to talk about what is going on and they'll interrupt to say oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook. As if the 2 sentence update is all they really want to know. Then a lot of awkward silence because, let's face it, most people don't know how to have real conversations in person anymore, and then you move along with your day because, well you are soooooo busy. UGH!
Enough is enough!
Just being a fly on the wall at the Queen of England's palace doesn't make you her friend, even though you know what is going on in her life does it? Neither does just seeing what people are up to make you a friend with your Facebook friends.
Is Facebook Bad?Unless you live under a rock, you've probably read (at least the highlights that appear in your Facebook feed) one of the many articles that social networks have been linked to depression, low self esteem, and jealousy. Here is why social media sites can be bad for you:
- Lack of REAL relationships (which is what I've been talking about)
- Comparing yourself or your life to others' - please remember you are only seeing what others are willing to let you see. It's like they allow you to be a fly on the wall in their house, but only when the house is neat and everyone is healthy and behaving well! You are comparing your actual real, sometimes messy, life with other's "best of" reel. Oranges and Apples folks!
- If you spend more than 10 minutes "catching up" you are wasting your precious time that brought you to Facebook in the first place. Engage with real life happening all around you right now! Get off your phone and talk face to face with your kids, play at the park, talk over dinner, or actually dial the phone to talk to one of your friends and hear the backstory of what is happening in their life. I guarantee your relationships will be deeper, more meaningful, and real!!
With all that being said, I do not think Facebook is bad. I grew up oversees and after graduation my friends scattered not only all over the US, but all over the world. I love that I get to "keep up" with friends from different stages of my life! I love that I get to see the new babies from out-of-town family we rarely see. And it can be a conversation starter when you don't know what to talk about with someone, but, it's time we all change the way we interact on Facebook
Facebook Etiquette for REAL Relationships
1) Closest Relationships should not be mainly Facebook Friends (Close friends, Parents, Siblings)First and foremost, please remember that your strongest relationships should NOT be based on Facebook. These are the main 5-10 people in your life you interact with regularly - school, work, neighborhood, church, sporting events, parents, siblings, etc. I'm not saying you can't friend them on Facebook, but please make sure most of your interactions are old school - call them on the phone, have them over for dinner, meet them at a coffee house to sip some Java and catch up.
The depth that comes from longer talks and doing life together will result in much, much, much deeper relationships than you could ever develop on Facebook. These deep relationships is what bring us happiness, sense of belonging, knowing who we can trust with sensitive information when times get tough. Name your 5 closest friends - now take those relationships off of Facebook and into real life!
2) Start "Liking" MoreWhen you just scroll through your feed without even so much as clicking like it is like standing in front of me while I'm talking to you and then, when I finish, you walk away - without so much as a nod, word of acknowledgement or anything.
Folks, this is just. plain. RUDE!
If someone is communicating with you, even via social network, please take the nano second to engage. Facebook now has so many ways to engage - you can like, cry, laugh, love, etc. Easy enough and now you are actually engaging with people.
3) For Heaven's Sake, Please Comment!
Our family recently adopted two toddlers from China. We shared our day-by-day journey in China on Facebook to keep family and close friends updated in a way that was only possible via Facebook. Despite having hundreds and hundreds of friends, we typically only got a couple dozen likes and an handful of comments daily. Which is fine, I wasn't posting for the feedback and just assumed only those people were reading. Well, in the months since our adoption, whenever I see someone face-to-face they will say "we were following your adoption" or "hope to see more updates on your new kiddos" and that's it. No more real conversation and they never,ever commented online. Seriously?! Please tell me you get how rude that is?So in scrolling through your Facebook feed, if when you see or reading someone's post you have a thought go through your head.....use the handy, dandy comment field to say it out loud. I know, this is ground breaking stuff here!
Think of it this way, if you like reading/seeing about people's lives you need to comment or they may stop posting. If a comedian steps on stage and does their show but no one engages with their material (i.e. laughs) they are going to stop performing, right? Unless people are getting that engagement we all not only want, but need, people stop posting.
Not only is this the way relationships are suppose to work - you say something, they say something, repeat - but it will help grow your relationship. And, let's face it - it's polite!
4) Use Facebook to Strengthen RelationshipsInstead of getting your news from your Facebook feed, try getting your conversation starters there instead!!
Here is what I mean, instead of feeling like you are all caught up with your friends because you've seen what has been going on. Try using it as a way to ask your friend about the topic you saw on Facebook to get the rest of the story - because none of us can share it all in 2 sentences!
This might just lead to the most meaningful, deep relationships - friends that are proactive and ask us about our life - allowing us to have meaningful conversations! YES PLEASE!
So in summary, Facebook can be good if you can all practice some Facebook etiquette and by taking your closest friends/family out of your feed and into real life. So spend your 10 minutes to start liking and commenting on your Facebook feed and then get off your phone and engage with someone in real life!!