How Facebook affects our relationships


How Facebook affects our relationships

Facebook has finally reached the 500 million users mark. It was inevitable, of course.

Almost as inevitable as the comment pieces and blogs that will be asking whether Facebook is ruining our 'real' relationships?

The answer depends on whom you ask. Certain people — usually the ones who aren't on Facebook — are always going to say yes, because back in their day people spoke to each other face to face. And then there are the technophiles who reckon that social networking is helping our off-line relationships to flourish, by allowing us to stay in contact with friends who live far away.

Social media researcher Danah Boyd doesn’t think it’s all bad. Her papers are worth a read if want to learn more about the subject.

Many of us forget, however, that Facebook is still in its infancy, that six years ago it didn't exist. And although it’s being widely studied by academics, any research can only focus on what it’s doing to our relationships in the short term. Who knows what it’ll do to them 10, 20, 30 years down the line (that is, of course, if it’s still the social networking site of choice the world over)? How long will our virtual friendships last compared with our real friendships? And can a relationship fostered over the web be as long lasting and fulfilling as those we nurture face to face? Only time will tell.

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