Interaction on Facebook is a recent phenomenon which is completely unparalleled by any other form of social relationship. According to a study done of students at Michigan State, “70% of students reported they spend 30 minutes on Facebook per day” (Lampe, Steinfeld, Ellison, 167) . A Facebook relationship takes place in a fashion where the two people talking are not actually looking at each other. Aside from a potential to develop better writing skills, there is not much positive to be said about a Facebook relationship. As a result of the ground breaking concept of no longer having to even hear a person to interact with him, it is impossible to accurately perceive a counterpart’s emotion and tone when he makes statements. If a counterpart’s face cannot be seen, it is not possible to fully understand the emotional emphasis being placed on each word spoken. When people interact on Facebook, there is also much more time to think before responding to a message. This completely throws off the flow of conversation and allows people too much time to decide what the right thing to say is. Facebook conversations also show a lack of depth due to the fact that many conversations are quite short. A University of Texas study shows “Facebook.com is a great way to find out more about someone you just met” (Gosling, Gaddis, Vizire, 1). However, this should not be the driving force behind establishing a relationship. If an individual only stays online for only three minutes, it will be impossible to have much of a conversation, outside of formalities.
A face-to-face relationship is completely different from this. Face-to-face relationships rely on far more intimacy, as well as comfort. For example, many find it is much easier to talk to a person of the opposite sex on Facebook, as eye contact is not required. However, in face-to-face relationships, eye contact is something which is inevitable, and, in turn, creates a significantly more intimate setting. Face-to-face relationships allow for a more defined form of emotional connection to occur. In a face-to-face setting, it is obviously possible to read a person’s facial expressions and body language. This makes it much easier for people to determine in which direction to take a conversation, as they react easier to their counterpart’s social tendencies. Face-to-face relationships are also far more committed for two reasons. First, a face-to-face interaction tends to consistently take place over a longer period of time. This, in turn, allows for a greater variety of topics to occur in conversation. The second reason that a more in-depth discussion can occur can be attributed to the fact that a face-to-face social relationship does not take place in front of a computer screen in a dark room. The fact that there is more mobility and variation in accessible activities allows for face-to-face interactions to have a wider field of topics to create a more in-depth conversation.
All things considered, the face-to-face relationship completely trumps the Facebook social relationship in terms of quality. Simply put, a Facebook relationship is anti-social. Talking to someone on the other side of a computer screen is unnatural and impedes social development. It is impossible to fully understand what a person means when they are speaking through a computer. Solving a conflict is going to be significantly more difficult if individuals are unable to emphasize through tone how they really feel about a matter. Everything is better understood when dealt within a face-to-face setting and mutual understanding is one of the most important factors in a relationship. Essentially, unless meeting face-to-face is impossible, a Facebook relationship should never be preferred over face-to-face dealings.
Lampe, Cliff, Nicole Ellison, and Charles Steinfeld. “A Face(book) in the Crowd:
Social Searching vs. Social Browsing.” A Face(book) in the Crowd: Social
Searching vs. Social Browsing: 167. Print.
Gosling, Samuel, Sam Gaddis, and Simine Vazire. “Personality Impressions Based
on Facebook Profiles.” Personality Impressions Based on Facebook Profiles:
1. Google Scholar. Web. 1 Dec. 2010. <http://www.icwsm.org/papers/
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