Why Facebook Has No Heart

Six months after putting up a Facebook profile, I’m utterly bored. I’ve said it. I’m sure I’ll be assaulted by the Facebook cultists, but it’s true.I had failed to check my account until recently when it appeared that several friends had sent me quizzes. I love these friends (and if you’re reading, please don’t take offense), but I don’t have time for quizzes. I’d rather you quiz me in person so we can have a good laugh together. I’d rather we go see a movie. I’d rather we enjoy each other’s company. Lately, I’d just rather connect (eh-gad!) in person.

I admit, I use Facebook to plug articles, videos, and other things that I hope my “community” of friends and colleagues will enjoy and pass on to others. In this way it serves a practical purpose. But it says little about me or what I’m truly about, except for where I live, my interests, perhaps what organizations I give to, or my political or religious affiliation (which I don’t even state). I can network, though LinkedIn is more appropriate for work connections. It’s mostly about surface things.

You can’t communicate much on Facebook. True, you can share quizzes and jokes, and poke people, or send funny icons. And you can see what that old friend in high school now looks like (admit it, you’ve checked), but you can’t contribute much of your personality or truly understand another human being. You can post a link to a story; but it fades into the background. We all use it because we think that’s all there is. Like all trends, someday something else will come along and rapidly replace it.

A friend tried looking for me on Facebook, but found there were a sea of others with my same name out there. (Most of them college students I imagine.) He requested that we be “friends” and I agreed. When we did finally link to each other, I discovered that he already had close to 150 other “friends” on Facebook. Somehow the sweetness of his wanting my “friendship” dissipated. Was I really the 151st person he’d asked to be his “friend”? If you have 150 other friends, what’s one more? Maybe I should have ignored it and spent those ten minutes doing something more fun: like eating, sleeping, or reading.

Facebook is starting to feel like a watered-down version of a yearbook. But unlike a real yearbook, we can’t look back at it with nostalgia. We’re always supposed to be looking forward. What do I write on someone’s “wall” anyway? And does it matter? Letter writing is a lost art, and I must admit, I am not one to write long letters to loved ones or friends as much as I used to in my college years. But I’d like to hope when I do make the effort, that a letter will mean more to them than a one-liner on their Facebook “wall.”

All I see are people spending their free time creating free content for a Web site with millions of users. As the owners of Facebook get richer, I don’t make any money by posting my connections on their site. I’m essentially doing the work for the mighty Facebook — and losing precious personal time — all in the name of a cool trend. I see people losing sight of real connection for the sake of an easy posting. I may sound like a curmudgeon, but I’d rather connect in person. Facebook is just plain boring.

Facebook may be a quick and easy way to say “hello,” but it’s starting to feel like a watered-down version of real human connection. Having a laugh with a friend, chatting at a dinner party, taking a hike, sending an email, or picking up the phone and asking “how are you?” are all much more satisfying for my soul.

In the 1990s, Seinfeld used to joke about the cell phone call on his television show. (It means much less than the call from a landline and never do it if you’re calling to give condolences, as Elaine did!) It was a funny episode then, but with evolving ways of communicating (not everyone even has a landline anymore), the joke is starting to feel quaint.

I love new technology and I’m always willing to embrace it — if it truly benefits me. But I’m not sure sites like Facebook do. Perhaps I’ll someday look back at this article and laugh at my aversion to Facebook. Then again, maybe I won’t. As far as I can tell, Facebook has no heart; and that’s not funny.

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