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Beneath the Face of Facebook

By October 28, 2010No Comments

By Angela

New Organizing Project blogger


In my first NOP blog post, I wrote about the power of social media and also about how the far-reaching online networking is making our world smaller. If you observe carefully, many things around us may have a profound benefit and yet have underscoring costs. Social media is no different.

As a psychology major, I can’t help but want to examine the underlying, hidden, and perhaps reverse side of things. Today I want to dig deeper particularly into the social network that is Facebook. Like my relationship with Korean dramas, I love/hate Facebook. I haven’t decided whether I want to live with or without it just yet.

The advent of Facebook has allowed more people across the world to peer into each others’ lives than ever before. Although this means a lot of connections and re-connections, I sometimes wonder if this has driven people away from each other more than it has brought them together.

When you log into Facebook, the first thing you see is the News Feed. Through this, you can see what the hot topic of the day was among your Friends, what they ate for lunch, and what they are planning to do that night. You can “Comment” on or “Like” a certain status or simply read/watch postings by your Friends. However, this online interaction can be superficial. Through your computer screen you may be following and connecting with Friends, but how many more times are you now glossing over the importance of face-to-face interaction?

Extending this thought, I’ve noticed recent talk about how Facebook actually makes people feel depressed and lonely. Facebook seems to make people more intricately connected but at the same time makes some people to feel even more isolated. When you see your friends having a great time in Vegas or hanging out with their friends while you are in your room with your problems, it tends to exacerbate the feeling of loneliness. You may wonder, “What am I doing here, while there is so much activity and fun in another friend’s world? Why do I seem to have so many problems while everyone else is happy and having a great life?”

You may wonder, why don’t those people just stop using Facebook then? But the truth may be that, for those individuals, Facebook may be like an addictive drug that they can’t seem to quit. Facebook may be one of the only ways that they are able to be connected to others and to feel a sense of belonging within a network. They may feel like they hate it, but they can’t help it.

But at the same time, we need to remember that Facebook is what it says to be. It is like your face, the appearance that you show to other people. To extend the metaphor, it is maybe more like the make-up you thoughtfully select to put on your face. You may want to cover-up your flaws and scars and just show the best appearance. Although a person may have a lot of hurt feelings and pains, they may conceal it and just show their happy side to the world. Because of this, Facebook can be a cover on one’s life story and not necessarily the chapters behind the cover. It can easily become no more than a façade. And it runs the risk of portraying a world of rose-colored lives, not to be confused with the spectrum of real experiences.