Undeniably, Facebook is ubiquitous. Students are constantly refreshing this social networking website during class, users sneak a peak during work, and even older generations are beginning to sign up as a means to connect to the changing world. But does this Facebook obsession and hysteria come with a price? What are the effects of having such a firm dependency on a form of an internet phenomenon? Specifically, what is Facebook doing to our real lives that are devoid of a screen?

As a communications major, I wish to further explore and develop the impact of Facebook on current interpersonal relationships. Recent findings from a report conducted in the University of Texas believes that Facebook can actually make you more sociable since its clientele are more likely to stay connected to friends and family far away while expanding their possibility for new relationships. Yet, I can’t help but be startled as I read that ultimately this data “allows Facebook to define what makes for social behavior”. It is interesting, to say the least, that society now relies on a technological interface to determine the norms and standards for how we interact in our daily social lives face-to-face. While the article points out that Facebook users are more likely to dwindle their usage as they grow older, it seems that this is not necessarily the case.

Last Monday, the Pope himself came out with a statement blessing social networking, but sternly recognizing that “online friendships are no substitute for real human contact”. While the Pope comes from a strict religious society and is from a different time of technology, he still makes several relevant points throughout his speech on the alienation and issues that arise within the constant dependency of Facebook to mediate social interactions. Still, there lies other major dilemmas of Facebook such as what happens when its users tragically die and they are still popping up on friends feeds.

As I continue to seek out more information on interpersonal relationships and the Facebook craze, one of the most promising examples I continue to come across are the staggering statistics of Facebook cited as a catalyst for divorce. Many middle-aged couples are now beginning to reconnect with past flames on this website, and living out alternate fantasies online. With about one in five divorce petitions filed, Facebook is claimed responsible. Undoubtedly, Facebook holds a vast power affecting real life relationships from friends to family members. Is Facebook liberating these people from unhappy marriages and expanding others horizons? Or simply acting as the gateway for the deterioration of contemporary social interactions as we known it. By analyzing this issue further online and reaching out to average users in the real world, I wish to develop this idea on Facebook’s interpersonal affects further.

7 Responses to “Facebook: Reaching Out From Behind the Screen”

  1. bettycwang says:

    That’s a pretty interesting topic. I had no idea that facebook was causing so many marital issues. One issue I see with this topic would be the consistency across international borders. The article you posted seems to refer to UK users usage of facebook. While I’m sure similar instances happen in America and other parts of the world, is the 1 in 5 statistic going to be the same in these countries? Also a question you could consider is whether or not these people would have cheated in the real world. Could it be that facebook is just providing an easier way for people to find out if their significant other is cheating? And considering that, is it really privacy that’s the issue?

  2. ffornasini90 says:

    I really like this topic! If I may suggest, I’d say you should even be more specific; it seems right now you want to tackle marital issues, death, interpersonal relationships and sociability as they are handled via Facebook. Considering the length of the travelogue, you might have a lot to research on but not enough space to write everything! However, the most interesting of the topics you’ve talked about is definitely the one about divorce. It is very specific and will allow you to interview just the right type and number of people. Consider asking this question: to what extent can Facebook really be considered a catalyst for divorce? And to what extent is the current stance on divorce in our society projecting some of its faults on Facebook?

    • mdeseriis says:

      I agree with Filippo, I would choose one of the sub-topics you mention and develop a more specific set of questions. Queenie also raises an interesting question below. To what extent is Fb reflecting our behaviors and to what extent is informing them? More than a tool, I would say that Fb is a medium. As any other medium, Fb foregrounds some of our inclinations and faculties while downplaying others. In the case of love relationships is it possible that Fb is stimulating a more “polyamorous” lifestyle or should we say that it just provides evidence and records for spouses to collect tangible evidence that the behavior of their partner is/was inappropriate? If you want to go this route you may want to consider how to contact married or unmarried couples and interview them. You may also want to decide not to restrict your sample to heterosexual couples.

  3. cassidyraehavens says:

    Hi, Liz! I agree that the topic is kind of broad. Like the other two comments, I agree that focusing on cheating/divorce and facebook would be very interesting. I stumbled upon this article, and I may be of some use to you if you choose to go in that direction: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110125/od_nm/us_sex_survey_odd For you, I think the last paragraph would probably be the most relevant.

  4. Queenie says:

    This is an interesting and current topic. However, I don’t know that claiming Facebook responsible for people’s actions (say, divorce) is valid; Facebook is just a tool. Also, I’m not sure I can identify the angle you’re taking. Are you investigating the ways in which Facebook’s features enable people to do certain things (gain new friends, network, cheat/flirt)? The dependency on said social network? Or virtual socializing in general?

    People are responsible for their own actions so to me, the study should focus on the behavior of its users. Do people discover that their significant others cheat via Facebook? What constitutes of cheating? Do people cheat because of Facebook? Or is that Facebook makes it easy for people to do questionable things via a public medium? Do people feel entitled to stalk others because Facebook makes it easy to do?

    I don’t think Facebook itself is doing anything to affect our lives per se. We control the message and information that goes online. In any case, it is Facebook users who use the social network to share mundane activities and random thoughts, for self-promotion, to comment, and flirt.

    I think the success of Facebook and its so-called effect on society and interpersonal relationships is due to people’s curiosity, narcissism, and interest in other people’s business. Facebook facilitates the sharing of information in the form of text, video, and pictures, but only as much as you want it to. No information goes on Facebook without the user’s consent. As soon as you fill out the personal profile or post something, you lose all privacy. That’s something people don’t quite understand (or remember) and then they blame Facebook when in reality, it is all a consequence of indiscretion and bad judgment.

    In any case, here’s an interesting article about divorce and ‘airing the dirty laundry’. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1904147,00.html

  5. wasante says:

    Yes! Yes! I’ll be honest… I’m scared of Facebook. It’ll know too much about me and I don’t want all of that information online. It already is probably but the concept of Facebook seems like a double edged sword that will inevitably end up cutting me.

    I’m well aware of the supposed benefits of this website and I’ve also heard of the tearful reunions and job opportunities throughout, but I’ve heard the opposite as well. I’ve heard of kids finding more out about their parents on Facebook than they ever could in a conversation. The outcry of a spouse when their significant other checks their page only to find they’ve listed themselves as single. A job that does a background check to notice that someone you know and reconnected with in high school had a problem with drugs and you become guilty by association. These are a few horror stories I’ve heard about this book of many faces…

    So please, show me if Facebook is something that can unify us under a banner of ubiquitous friendship or will it tear our society apart with the unfiltered and ugly truth?

  6. larawesnofske says:

    I’m always impressed by those who attempt to make any sense at all out of Facebook, and our obsession with it. Where I could see you having difficulty is in making specific and relevant conclusions from a social networking site that is so huge. I think that it’s important to narrow down your field of study. Like Filippo suggested, maybe try taking a look at only divorce. It may also be beneficial to consider the sites effect on identity. Whether we realize it or not, the persona we adopt online can effect our real life interpersonal relationships. How does our virtual reality allow us to explore despite possibly present real life boundaries? And does that choice to virtually explore or experiment prove to be therapeutic or destructive to real life relationships?

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