Social Media and the Devolution of Friendship

On how Facebook (and other social networks) may be causing a regression in friendships. The author argues that initially, Facebook works because it’s anchored in rituals which we’ve known closely, such as telling friends about events, or showing them images. It’s also great as a lazy way out for our increasingly lazy selves to mass broadcast things to everybody at once. 

But as time goes on, the ruthless efficiency and relentlessly automated way that it does this, leads to not only fatigue on the reader’s part, but the dilution and discounting of social interactions between individuals. I’ve certainly experienced this: in reading deluges of updates, I end up caring less and less about the updates – then I just stopped reading the news feed entirely years ago. The result is positive – increased satisfaction, productivity, focus and dare I say it, enjoyment without restraints. If anything, the bond with people I do care about has grown stronger.

People become slaves to the red indicator, being conditioned to constantly talk boorishly about themselves (it often carries over to real life to their own detriment), in between checking for more status updates or altering their behavior to what they think will be most ‘liked’. I wrote about this a while back –

The good news is that I’m gradually detecting a greater general awareness of the effects of over-dependence on these networks on our primitive gorilla brains. Facebook has long stopped being ‘cool’, rather a necessary evil, a utility. There is yet hope. 

Try limiting or disconnecting, you might just like it. Believe it or not, your fragile ego WILL survive without Facebook.

“It’s easy to share, to broadcast, to put our selves and our tastes and our identity performances out into the world for others to consume; what feedback and friendship we get in return comes in response to comparatively little effort and investment from us. It takes a lot more work, however, to do the consumption, to sift through everything all (or even just some) of our friends produce, to do the work of connecting to our friends’ generalized broadcasts so that we can convert their depersonalized shares into meaningful friendship-labor.”

Social Media and the Devolution of Friendship: Full Essay (Pts I & II) » Cyborgology


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