When you think of communication, you probably think of probably think of talking, texting or maybe even silent physical forms of communication such as smiling or hugging. But a new type of communication has arisen throughout the past few years that may be replacing and redefining all of these other forms.
What is this form you ask? It's something that has swept not only the nation but the entire world. Facebook has 137.6 million visitors a month in the United States alone. With the average person spending 7 hours 45 minutes on this social media site monthly, Facebook is bound to affect the way people interact with one another.
This change in communication has become referred to as "The Facebook Effect." In his book "The Facebook Effect," author David Kirkpatrick discusses the history of Facebook as well as the influences it has had on society.
Before the era of Facebook, long-distance relatives and friends might only be heard from on a rare occasion. But with Facebook, these relatives and acquaintances can be heard from daily. Communication with those who are far away no longer consists of conversations to catch up on the major details that have happened in each other's lives during the past six months. Status updates allow people to see what is happening in the other person's life regularly.
Not only do you see the big things, but the small day-to-day things as well. Facebook has broken down barriers and made long-distance relatives seem as if they are a thing of the past.
Having communication so easily accessible has also become a negative thing. Bullying in person has perhaps decreased with Facebook but on the rise is cyber-bullying, one of the most widespread problems among youth. This new form of bullying is incredibly dangerous due to the fact that it can be anonymous and hard to escape. It's said that words hurt us the most which is why cyber-bullying is so serious and can ruin lives.
Although there have been social networking sites before Facebook which allowed relatives and friends to communicate and also featured problems with cyber-bullying, Facebook has created the issue on a much larger scale. Facebook has many users of all ages whereas previous social networking sites have catered to one age or social group over another. Facebook is for everyone, and this is why it has been left with the greatest number of users and does not show any sign of going anywhere anytime soon.
New social networking sites have been developed such as Twitter and Pinterest offering features that Facebook does not have, although these sites still have yet to threaten The Facebook Empire. One of the things Facebook has going for it, besides the number of clients, is the usage not only by people but by businesses as well. Large corporations as well as small local businesses can put themselves out there and be able to interact with their customers on a one-on-one basis.
Before Facebook, getting what you had to say out there meant being published by a publisher. Now, with Facebook, anyone can get what they think and feel out there with the push of a button, regardless of validity or the ability to write a grammatically correct sentence. Anyone can say what they have to say regardless of background. You can now go on a political rant or post what you're having for dinner, even if no one cares about either.
With the ability to so easily connect and reach out to a large group of people come other changes in the way we communicate. When a couple used to get engaged, for example, it meant calling all of their closest friends and family and sharing the good news. Or the same thing would happen when they had a child. When someone used to get into the school of their dreams or experience other big accomplishments, they would personally tell those close to them.
Now, it is a matter of simply posting news on Facebook as if it is of no more significance than the weather.
For me, Facebook has had a positive influence between myself and long-distance family members. It has provided the opportunity to feel as if I am a part of their lives. We used to simply share the big-life moments between brief phone calls together and that was all we knew about each other. Now not only are we sharing those big moments but we get to easily see what is going on every day in our lives, making us feel as if we are closer than we really are.
By the same token this is also a negative thing for those who are closest to me. It hurts when a good friend or family member shares something important over Facebook and doesn't bother to share it with you personally, making you feel as if you aren't as close you thought.
"The Facebook Effect" has taken the place of many forms of communication but has also given us both positive and negative types of communication that we did not previously have. With millions of users, Facebook gives us opportunities to be closer with those you are close to, but it can also lead to taking for granted the value of a phone call or meeting up in person.
Caitlynn Kindall is a senior at Ogden High School. She enjoys being physically fit, being crafty and staying busy. Email her at email@example.com.