The Negative and Positive Effects of Facebook – With Love, From Facebook!

Communication

What makes Homo sapiens distinct from other animals is their constant thirst for learning and knowledge. We, humans, are seldom happy with absolute answers. We search for perfection but want ideas and beliefs that are flexible and evolving. Such is the case with one of the biggest invention of the 20th century. Social media and social networking being a part and parcel of our routine life, can neither be disqualified as harmful nor underestimated as a viable source of entertainment and communication.

There has been much speculation about the effects of Facebook in the life of a user. Mostly it’s been condemned for its addictive quality and various researches see this as an instigation for social alienation. We will discuss some of the most accepted views in this regard and analyse them in the light of changing perceptions and newfound research. Here you go!

 

• Changing the Communication Patterns? (Not for worse, after all!)

Communication was once an art. It might still be one but social media, and more specifically, Facebook has significantly changed the dynamics of regular communication of millions of people around the world. In a blog post on Social Media Today, Kevin Cain discussed the negative effects of Facebook on Communication last June. Here is an excerpt:

“We’ve seen sentences communicating complete thoughts devolve into esoteric sound bites laced with a dizzying array of fragments and acronyms. We’ve watched emoticons replace words as a tool for expressing feelings. Perhaps most importantly, we are witnessing how social media is helping to foster a society that values frequent communication more than meaningful communication.”

He further discusses how we tend to overshare details of our private life that were once considered inappropriate for public consumption.

The Facebook Effect

Here is an alternative view!

David Kirkpatrick in his book “The Facebook Effect” discusses the social network as a software that makes information viral. Ideas on Facebook disseminate through groups and make millions of people aware with astonishing ease and speed. For example, if a person joins a particular cause making a simple statement about himself, such as “Yes, I am against Terrorism,” he wasn’t asking to forward this information to his friends; he merely joined the group. Yet as each new person joins that group, Facebook takes that information and distributes it to the News Feed of that person’s friends; eventually making it viral.

Do you think such frequent yet useful mode of communication should be disregarded as less meaningful than other means of communication? This, obviously, is just scratching the surface to understanding one of the many uses of Facebook with respect to communication.

 

• Inviting Constant Comparison. (It’s all in your head!)

In early March, 2012, Ray B. Williams mentioned a study by Alex Jordan published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, in one of his blog posts. the study accumulated data of 80 Facebook users who he found, were consistently overestimating the fun their friends were having and underestimating their unhappy experiences. The outcome of the study was that Facebook may be worsening the tendency to think everyone else is enjoying themselves more than you are.

Social Network Sites

Here is an alternative view!

According to another study, The Benefits of Facebook ‘‘Friends:’’ Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites by Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe; Facebook usage contributes in the psychological well-being of its users and provides even greater benefits to those experiencing low self-esteem and low life satisfaction. The study further explores how benefits such as increased information and opportunities are provided by bridging social capital, and the participants who use Facebook in this way are able to get more out of their college experience.

Now which of these points outweigh the other in your opinion? For me, Comparisons are available wherever we go; college, workplace, even among family. If someone has an inferiority complex, why put the blame on the social network he uses?

 

• Turning Users Into Narcissists. (Clearly an over-generalization!)

Samantha Murphy published a blog post on Mashable on March 19, 2012, in which she referred to a Research from Western Illinois University which showed a link between the number of Facebook friends a user has and his activity on the site, to the likelihood of being a "socially disruptive" narcissist. The author of the study, Chris Carpenter, commented, "People who have a heightened need to feel good about themselves will often turn to Facebook as a way to do so."

Identity Construction

Here is an alternative view!

Where we previously agreed that Facebook usage may lower or boost self-esteem in users, another interesting research study, the Identity Construction on Facebook by Claudia Nir, came out in 2012. This study casts light on the view that photographs are the latest most powerful tool of communication and work as a major element on facebook. They become an important representation of identity for the users at levels ranging from reading an online article to liking an application, etc. “The profile image carries varying degrees of importance for the users; for some users it seems significant to choose a profile image based on the assumed reactions from their audience. For others however, the photograph needs to suit a multitude of audiences and therefore needs to be less specific or descriptive, but rather more generic,” commented the study author.

Isn’t it like the real life where we have to present ourselves slightly differently, at certain places, than we would like to do so at home or with our family members? Our choice of representation varies with audience and it doesn’t have anything to do with being narcissistic. Human beings are a vain specie but you will find millions of sensible and down-to earth people, even on Facebook.

 

• Making Users Lonely! (Does it…?)

The Atlantic published an article in May, 2012, which discussed that Facebook is making people lonelier than ever and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. The article elaborate on the subject as: “Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy,” and it goes on to explain how badly Facebook usage affects our physical health.

Here is an alternative view!

Well, according to a latest research, posting frequently on Facebook makes us “less lonely”. To explain this phenomenon, researchers compared posting quick Facebook updates to quick hits of food.

So now it’s even more clear that it’s just a matter of individual tendency, otherwise social networks are supposed to improve our networking and social connections. Say adieus to being bored and lonely! :D

 

• Speak Your Mind! (Or Your Heart!)

We have presented various contradictory points of view on a number of aspects related to Facebook. Social media statisticsreveal an astounding figure of regular Facebook users and it’s just not possible to apply one research or thesis on millions of people. It’s time we all do a little self-analysis to see what impact Facebook is having on our lives – negative o r positive.

Let us know of your opinion regarding these researches or share your own analysis with us in the comments. We will be happy to learn your side of the story.

 

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