Facebook and the Dynamics of Relationships

By Mike T.

Prior to the days of Facebook, I remember the day when I first started to use any type of online social networking site. Myspace was the first site I would begin to network online. The concept was cool; by creating an account on Myspace, I was able to create my own online identity to have others view myself as I see fit, have a page where my friends can leave comments, and organize my photo’s to allow others to see what I have been up to. As more and more users begin to join Myspace, it’s down falls beginning to surface, and the same downfalls can be seen on Facebook as well.

One example of this is the act of befriending someone online through a request. By choosing to accept someone’s friend request you are allowing him or her into your inner personal online circle of friends. I remember when (and I’m sure I still do today) I would meet someone in real life, and then as I got home I would search them up online and add them as a friend on Facebook.  This action has showed me how much things have changed as more and more people are going online. I believe the reason why we do things like this is because it is much easier to send a friend request rather than asking verbally to hang out, or for a simple phone number. Within the 500 of friends that I have I also have a few sub groups within these friends.

Logging into my Facebook account I am subscribed to the group of bboy’s (break dancers) in the Portland area, as well as in a group of the Portland State Breakin’ Club, and a group called Character Cult where we help with dance events in the Portland area. Reflecting on all these different groups I am in I realize if it weren’t for Facebook I would not have any sort of relations with these people at all. How we discussed early how humans are not evolved to have relationships with so many people, we developed a tool such as Facebook to help us keep all these new formed relationships. Other than group relationships Facebook also allows for you to inform other if you are in a personal relationship.

Scrolling down my newsfeed I will occasionally get the news that one of my friends have begun dating another person. This may seem pointless, but I truly believe that my generation of Facebook users does not consider anyone to be in a real relationship until it is “Facebook official”. It seams that not until you have adjusted your profile to say “in a relationship” we will not take you seriously. On the opposing side of that I have friends who change their relationship status almost weekly. This has made me numb to the fact that it makes it hard for me to believe they are in a committed relationship.  I do not even what to begin to speak about the users who have the status “in a relationship but it’s complicated”.

Aside from relationship statuses, or sub groups of friends, I believe the events on Facebook also define the relationships we have. I know I personally will decide to go to an event or not based on who has clicked attending the event. These events have been so powerful in my life that they will determine what my weekly planner looks like. I know to refer to it if there is anything important going on.

In an accelerated world I believe these trends will continue to grow. The number of online friends we have will increase. We will be added to more and more subgroups. Who knows we might have marriage license be approved only through Facebook in the near future. But as an online tool for social networking I think it will only diminish and weaken the relationships we have with our friends in the real world.

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