The Illusion of Intimacy : Facebook

Ah facebook. Whenever I feel disconnected or blue or just plain bored I turn on facebook to see what is going on in the world. In fact, it´s how I keep track of well a heck of a lot of people.
However, after now reaching 1,200 people on my list I have to admit that it no longer has people I truly keep contact with on a daily basis. In fact, most of my daily interactions are limited to the country and type of interaction I have with people.
How many of those people truly know and remember who I am? A recent survey has shown that you can erase friends from your list for something as mundane as getting a free whopper.
But if you are an active facebooker, you can give out an illusion that people actually know you intimately. My friend lydia puts it nicely : You forget that you have more than twenty people on your list and just put it ” out there” for people to see.
As the internet has progressed we have increasingly let down our walls of anonymnity. Looking at a facebook profile is a little like reading someone´s diary. Case in point, I once made a trip somewhere that I didn´t want most people to know about, but lo and behold with tagging by some innocent bystander I got a concerned call from my family on my whereabouts.
Back on the days of AIM and MIRC sans webcam, people could pretend and hide under anonymous profiles. In a way, it was a refuse for the antisocial and the nerdy. Nowadays, it takes more than that to keep afloat. Being on the internet is not only accepted, it´s encouraged. Most of our daily lives are now recorded by blackberries and iphones, disposing all sense of privacy. We are in our own sphere, a sense of celebration of self.
The younger generation takes it a step further, letting people know how much they love their boyfriend, or having public fights on the internet.
The question lies : Where is the line between privacy and voyeurism? When has the mundane become so celebratory? On the same coin, it has never been so disposable.
On the other hand, It´s amazing to share funny pictures , stories and statuses to all my friends instantly. This is interesting only because it has changed the way we think and interact with people. Just like wikipedia has changed the way we search for information so has facebook transformed us on how we share our lives. it opens doors to see things in different and interesting perspectives.
The question lies then : in becoming technologically closer to people who are miles away are we becoming increasingly distant to IRL interactions? How many people spend more time on their blackberries and computers than walking in the park and talking to their neighbors?
I don´t think any of this is necessarily bad, I think we just should stop ourselves from letting it enslave us. Or using it as an excuse to not interact with other people.
There is a certain death of intimacy. Sure, I get 200 people telling me happy birthday but as time goes by it is increasingly more and more succinct some messages are as clipped as ” HBD” . If I think of the birthday wishes that came ten years ago, on birthday cards, baloons and even telephones from perhaps 10 people I can´t stop to think that in some ways those were pretty special. Then again, when we cast out a net farther than 20 people, we cannot expect to have the same bond with everyone. True loving relationships take time and effort, yet this can be achieved online. The question is : DO we really want to ? Are we really thinking about the person other than ourselves?
For those of us who have travelled and lived in so many places, these social networks are a chance to reconnect with those whom we have lost contact. I have been able to see people I had not seen in more than 20 years.

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