4.01.2009

Defenders of Facebook? Slaggers of Facebook? Please Respond!

My students and I were discussing the relative merits of Facebook last night in class. We're reading Fahrenheit 451, and examining the vision of how technology interferes with society that Bradbury put forth in that novel, specifically how technology aids and abets in the comprehensive distration of the society from the war and other social ills, and how technology disconnects us not only from the larger world but from each other.

Many of my students are parents of teenagers, and some of those view FB as the equivalent of talking on the phone for hours like they did as teens. Others see a real reduction in the level of in-depth or quality communication skills possessed by their teens, who have been trained to interact in fragmented spurts, using few or non-words and looking at no one.

So, does FB increase communication skills by sheer volume, or reduce communication skills by lowering the bar of interaction to the lowest level possible? Does FB make our worlds more complete and integrated by keeping us connected to friends and loved ones, or does it give a false sense of connectedness enabled by technology? Does FB lead to more face time with those we care about, or is it an insidious replacement for person to person shared experience and conversation?

3 comments:

strugglingwriter said...

I've had an interesting experience with Facebook. It's been a sort of class reunion for me that I never had.

I graduated High School in 1995. We didn't have a 5 year or 10 year reunion. In the last year or so, I've been able to see what's up with many of my classmates through Facebook. That simply wouldn't have happened otherwise. So for that reason I have to say I am a fan of Facebook.

MySpace is totally different. I never got into it because the web design was so poor and it lacked any real content to me.

Paul

Mary J. Brown said...

Hi there. Have you been doing any writing?
I actually adore FB...it has helped me reconnect with people and to meet interesting new people, too.
Hope you are well...
Mary

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of Facebook and social networking. I think it definitely leads to more real world opportunities to socialize, keeps connections to others active that might have otherwise dissipated, and allows people to reconnect easily after having spent years apart.

Just as in the real world, 99% of communication is pedestrian. Don't expect people to post heartbreaking works of staggering genius on each other's walls.

That being said, I just searched "groups" for the term "poetry" and came up with over 500 hits. The largest group had over 16,000 members. There are also over 500 groups with "abstract art" in their title.

If you are interested in something, chances are someone else, or thousands of someone elses, on Facebook is/are too.

(please don't correct my grammar)