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March 08, 2011

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Kelly Anders

Great question, Jacqui. I think Sue and Angie have good intentions, but they are using FB as a time-saving way to keep in touch, which is probably common. We're all pulled in so many directions, but there are still only 24 hours in a day. I'm not saying this is the best way to keep in touch, but it does show that they are trying. At first, I was going to liken this to the old practice of leaving a voicemail in place of having an actual telephone discussion, but FB is a bit of an improvement over that (which is still probably done here and there). This post also reminds me of the book, "Bowling Alone," which discusses our declining "social capital," and limited in-person interactions. Have you heard of it?

Gaia Bernstein

Jacqui,I suggest reading Sherri Turkle's new book - Alone Together. She elaborates exactly on this point. It is a rather one-sided account but captures many truths.

Ben Buchwalter

Based on my own personal experience with Facebook, I doubt that Angie and Sue would be spending more time together if it weren't for the networking website. I tend to say things like "I catch up with [[David]] through Facebook" for people that I never actually thought I'd keep up with anyone. For others, maybe those who live in my city, FB sometimes acts as an excuse to reach out to them in real life.

Kelly -- I love the connection to Bowling Alone. I think it's especially interesting considering that the essay was originally published in 1995 -- before Facebook was even a concept in Zuckerberg's mind. Are we rushing to blame the Internet for a phenomenon that was already in progress?

Kelly Anders

Great point, Ben. Perhaps Facebook is merely facilitating a trend that just needed the right vehicle to take off. Another point to consider is the scarcity of cell phones in 1995; many still looked more like bricks than communication devices. Now that they are so small and commonly obtained, we can more conveniently maintain a "connected distance" with everyone in our networks.

Jacqueline Lipton

You all make great points - thanks for your thoughts (and particularly for the book recommendations, Kelly and Gaia).

Johnny Exchange

There is a certain amount of pleasure that we get from face-to-face with certain people that a facebook entry cannot fulfill, however, while older generations that have begun fb'ing seem to make the time, i wonder about the younger people who seem to never lift their eyes from the screen. How about blogging...is that replacing the spirited discussions we all love so?

Jacqui Lipton

That's an interesting thought. I've recently started thinking about parallels and differences between blogs and Facebook. I'm comfortable blogging and less comfortable Facebooking, probably because blogging (to me at least) is about broadcasting ideas whereas Facebooking is about broadcasting one's private life (and I feel less comfortable about the latter). Also, I wonder if blogging replaces face-to-face interactions to the same extent that Facebook (and voicemail, and text messaging, and email) might. I still have face-to-face discussions with colleagues in the office about issues that I also blog about, so it seems to me that blogging just enables me to add more voices to a discussion ie people geographically distant who I wouldn't see that often face-to-face anyway. Clearly, a number of my colleagues in Cleveland will respond to my blog posts and vice versa, but we usually also catch up in the hallways and chat about the issues as well. Anyone with different experiences? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the comparison between blogging and social networking.

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