Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is Facebook for?

Facebook has revolutionised communication. People can now 'catch up' on the web and virtually 'keep-in-touch'. Just like phones, social networking sites are a blessing and a curse. They give us easy access to people around the world but make us increasingly impersonal.

As with the introduction of any new piece of technological communication it leads one to ask what it is for and how it should and shouldn't be used.

There is no simple answer, if there is an answer at all, and perhaps possible answers will change over time.

To use myself as a case study, I use Facebook for networking (such as building media and musical theatre contacts as part of my work and social life) and as a convenient way to keep in touch with friends, particularly those interstate and overseas. I can alert friends and professionals to what's happening in my life and vice versa. Facebook, among other things, also provides an easy and efficient way to organise events.

For me, my profile is private and I hardly broadcast personal details that could compromise my safety but I don't see Facebook as the place you congregate only your 'closest' friends (those you'd send a Christmas card to, per say).

On the other hand, some hold their Facebook page sacred for various reasons; I know some who keep a tight lid on their friends because they feel the personal views they express and photos they post may taint their 'professional' image or reputation.

People's profiles function within both extremes of maximum and minimum security, and Facebook fortunately enables each individual to make that choice.

If Facebook is a different utility for different people what can we learn from this?

Perhaps that if you broadcast your personal life for all the world to see you're essentially inviting all sorts of peeping toms, but, also that Facebook doesn't need to be the place to only keep your bosom body lifelong friends.

Then what is the 'socially acceptable' way to use Facebook? How do you negotiate who you accept and decline? Where are the barriers and what determines them?

Because of these many unanswered question it's probably best to respect that people can and do use Facebook in different ways which may not be compatible with our own.

Where do you draw the line for Facebook 'friends'? What motivates you to accept or decline a request?

What is Facebook for?

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