Are you a Facebook user? How often do you use Facebook to communicate with your friends? Do you check your Facebook account regularly? How many friends do you have on your Facebook account? Do you think Facebook can substitute for face-to-face interaction with people? Do you believe that Facebook can help you to deal with your relationships? In recent discussions of Facebook, a controversial issue has been whether Facebook really help its users to maintain and develop their relationships with their friends.
Facebook is currently the largest social networking site which provides an online platform for users to share their daily issues. It is founded by Mark Zuckerberg and was first launched in 2004. Facebook users can create their own profiles and make friends with each others. In December 2011, there are totally 845 million Facebook users. On the one hand, some people argue that Facebook is a fantastic network where people can share their latest issues with their friends. On the other hand, however, others argue that Facebook is distorting the nature of real relationships because people are only focusing on the virtual relationships on Facebook. In sum, the issue is whether people should continue using Facebook as a way to connect with their friends or they should abolish using Facebook.
My own view is that Facebook does help connecting people together. Though I concede that Facebook does bring many side effects, I still maintain that Facebook is a good way to develop and maintain relationships. This issue is important because Facebook is so prevalent that it is essential to seek the effectiveness of Facebook. In this essay, I will explain why people should continue using Facebook. Facebook does not only be beneficial to social connection, but it also provides social support and helps users to adapt to new environments.
The initial benefit of Facebook is that it connects people and lower the distance among them. Facebook provides many different functions for users to share their everyday lives. For instance, users can open an album and share photos with their friends. They can also update their status on their walls so as to share their thoughts with others. In order to show their interests, they can share news or videos from other websites, such as BBC News and YouTube. Through Facebook, users can talk with their friends either through text messages or through a video call.
In my opinion, I believe that Facebook is a good way of communication. With the above functions, we can quickly share our views and communicate with our friends. Moreover, it is an efficient way to maintain our relationships. We can quickly know about the latest issues of our friends by using our computers or our smart phones. In a research in 2011, Hsu, Wang, and Tai find out that Facebook is especially beneficial for developing relationships with newly met friends as Facebook is a “less time- and effort-utilizing tools” (476) for users to develop acquaintanceship. Because of this, we can easily extend our social circle and connect others in closer distance.
All these functions are not only limited to the connection with local friends, but is also essential for users to connect with people all over the world. For example, I am now studying in Ann Arbor. Yet my parents are living in Macau while my sister is studying in Newcastle. Facebook is one of the ways which helps me and my family to keep in touch with each other even though we are living in different places and different time zones. Every day, I update my status on my wall, and then my parents will quickly response to my status. Facebook also provides a chat room for me to talk with my sister. All these connections with my family definitely help me to face the new environment and to overcome my homesickness.
There are also many examples that Facebook helps to connect people together. For example, last year, in Philippines, “tens of thousands of sympathetic Facebook users” (Adelaide Now) have helped an old lady, Aurelia Matias, to reunite with her husband, Luis Matias, who suffers from memory loss. This example shows how amazing Facebook can be and how it can help people to maintain relationships, even with their lost loved ones.
Another advantage of Facebook is that it can help people to adapt to new environments more easily. A 2011 research finds out that Facebook helps students with “social adjustment and attachment” (Kalpidou, Costin and Morris 187) with new communities. With Facebook, users can make friends with people they have met in the new environment and quickly form their own social networks. The research suggests that Facebook is “a valuable venue … for creating new … relationships” (Kalpidou, Costin and Morris 187). Similarly, from another perspective, a research in 2007 suggests that Facebook helps to maintain social ties with old friends, especially when changing to a new environment. Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe mention that Facebook helps to “support relationships and keep people in contact, even when life changes move them away from each other” (1165). From their friends on Facebook, users can gain social support with their positive comments and likings.
In addition, Facebook can improve the self-esteem of users. In a research in 2011, Gonzales and Hancock find out that Facebook “leads to intensify relationship formation” (79), more importantly, it “influences impression of the self” (79). By presenting preferred or positive information on one’s profile, Facebook users can improve their self-esteem. In my opinion, both social support from friends and higher self-esteem are definitely crucial factors when facing difficulties and uncertainties in unfamiliar surroundings.
Nonetheless, many people claim that Facebook should be abolished because of its negative effects on users. A recent study shows that Facebook is making people sad. The survey discovers that Facebook users believe that “others have a better life than they do” (Flacy). As a result, these users think that their lives are not good enough when comparing to their friends, and thus become depressed. Yet, in my opinion, I would think that this is a problem of users instead of Facebook. The users over-generalize others’ lives through limited perspectives on Facebook. They should avoid correspondence bias, so that they can face their lives positively.
Furthermore, cyber-bullying is also a widely-reported problem of Facebook. In a survey of 18,000 adults in 24 countries, the result finds out that more than 60% of cyber-bullying come from Facebook (Reuters). Though this can be true, I think that we cannot blame Facebook for providing such platforms for bullying. Rather, it is a problem of education. Teens should learn about the negative consequences of cyber bullying from their teachers and parents.
In short, I believe that there is no problem with the social network system of Facebook. Rather, many of the problems should be are attributed by the misuse and misconduct of users. Just imagine a knife in your home. When it is used properly, a knife can be useful for dining. However, when it is misused, it can be a murder weapon. Many Facebook users may spend too much time on Facebook, and thus ignore the real relationship with their friends. My suggestion is that they should spend more time on face-to-face relationship. A real interaction with people is definitely the key to develop and maintain a relationship. Facebook can assist people to keep in touch with their friends in an efficient way, but it should not be considered as the major and only way to connect with friends. To sum up, Facebook is definitely beneficial to our social lives, but only when it is used effectively but not addictively and unethically.
Adelaide Now. "Aurelia Matias, 73, and Luis Matias, 78, reunited after Facebook campaign." 11/24 2011.Web. 2/5/2012 .
Chiung-Wen Hsu, Ching-Chan Wang, and Yi-Ting Tai. "The Closer the Relationship, the More the Interaction on Facebook? Investigating the Case of Taiwan Users." CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 14.7 (2011): 473-6. Web.
Chou, H. T., and N. Edge. ""they are Happier and having Better Lives than I Am": The Impact of using Facebook on Perceptions of Others' Lives " Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking (2011) Web.
Ellison, Nicole B., Charles Steinfield, and Cliff Lampe. "The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ use of Online Social Network Sites." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12.4 (2007): 1143-68. Web.
Gonzales, Amy L., and Jeffrey T. Hancock. "Mirror, Mirror on My Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem." CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 14.1 (2011): 79-83. Web.
Kalpidou, Maria, Dan Costin, and Jessica Morris. "The Relationship between Facebook and the Well-being of Undergraduate College Students." CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 14.4 (2011): 183-9. Web.
Reuters. "Cyberbullying a problem around the globe: poll." 1/11 2012.Web. 2/5/2012 .