I received a voicemail today from a good friend; she asked if I had spoken to <mutual friend>, and did I have any details? She was sure he was suffering from a barrage of calls. I was completely perplexed, and after first checking CNN (thinking I’d missed something important in the world), I realized I should check Facebook. And that’s how I found out <mutual friend> had lost a close family member last week very suddenly.
Rather than deal with making phone calls explaining the same tragic news over and over, he posted everything to Facebook, knowing the news would travel without him having to repeat himself. It’s a common theme on Facebook, mostly with good news rather than bad. How many of us have found out about friend’s engagements, relationship changes, new jobs, new apartments, new pets, through status updates?
In my opinion, though, nothing replaces personal connections. I called my friend when I heard the news, because it seemed too impersonal to leave him a message on Facebook. And the next time I see him, he’ll get a big hug and a shoulder to lean on, which are far better in the real world than the virtual one.
(image courtesy Someecards)
But what’s the etiquette here? As someone bitterly complained to me a few months ago, what do you do when a casual acquaintance updates their status to “engaged”, or posts that they are pregnant, then you run into them months later? Do you congratulate them? Do you admit you’ve stalked their lives on Facebook, or do you wait for them to tell you the news in person?
More and more, it seems like if you are “on Facebook”, the default assumption is that you are ON FACEBOOK. That you check it daily, track and communicate with your friends through it, and that it is your primary source for social updates. If you don’t, you miss out on basic, and sometimes incredibly important, information. Whether this is good or bad is enough to fill pages of discussion, but it seems to have become the new social reality.
Just like you can’t be a little bit pregnant, you can’t be a little bit Facebook’d.
Do you agree? Disagree? Despise all things “social networking”? Share your thoughts below!