Is Facebook Hurting Society as a Whole?

December 7, 2011

Political Theory

Facebook is the website that a large majority of college students go to immediately when opening their computer or using their cellphones.  According to a case study done on facebook, “there are more than 500 million active users.”  Each year these users spend countless hours looking at the news feed and stalking their friends’ profiles.  But could Facebook actually be hurting our society?

Humans tend to be lazy.  Laziness is one of the reasons Hobbes claims that we want to live under a common power.  “Psychologist Prof B.J. Fogg, who studies online behavior, says Facebook is designed to make interacting effortless…”  With the one click like button and simple access comment box no task is difficult on Facebook.  This simplicity and minimal thinking the website creates feeds into each users laziness.

In addition, Facebook provides a cyber world for people to live a fantasy life through.  “Abraham Maslow stated that humans have three basic needs, which are for love, affection and a sense of belonging. We might not realize it but that in sharing with our friends our activities and photographs, we are actually seeking for attention and belongingness. We want people to notice us and of course, we feel better when they do and take time to comment on our posts.”  Also, Facebook give individuals endless amounts of friends.  One does not actually have to be friends with an individual physically to add them.  This makes people feel more socially accepted and leads to a higher self esteem.  On Facebook any user feels free to say or do much more than they would in a face to face interaction, creating somewhat of a false identity.

In my discussion class we talked about the American Dream.  This will be the first time in American history where the individuals of this generation will most likely not be better off than their parents.  The people of this generation realize their situation and many have lost faith in the American Dream.  Only a small proportion of students raised their hand in my class stating they still believed in it.  So is Facebook becoming an outlet for individuals to achieve, what they know they cannot in the real world?

The laziness and fantasy life Facebook creates, can have some serious consequences.  Facebook builds a safe space where people fall into a comfort zone that is hard to escape.  Consequently, people get stuck in a pattern of sitting behind their computer instead of venturing out into the real world.   Even though Facebook is a social interaction site, one could argue it encourages solidarity.

Putnam points out that our society’s
social interaction has been significantly declining and he theorizes that one reason for this issue is technology.  This decreased engagement leads to many major problems including decreased levels of trust and has also increased poverty, unemployment, and health issues.  Could Facebook be a reason for our decreased interaction?
Do you think that Facebook is actually hurting our society as a whole?


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6 Comments on “Is Facebook Hurting Society as a Whole?”

  1. mrau188 Says:

    Facebook is definitely a reason for decreased social interaction among young people to day because everyone is living in a cyber world that has no parameters. People go on facebook each day for hours on end talking about god knows what. They are posting links to different websites and pictures and videos and people are just sitting there watching them and not interacting. Human nature is to connect with other people and although facebook is a way for people to connect without being in the same place, it is not the same as if people actually came out and showed how much they cared about a certain opportunity. They need to show how they can fit in with society and people in front of a key board are not getting this done. People need to interact with each other in a forum that is live not over the internet and i feel that facebook is hurting our society as a whole because of the false sense of realism that is provides for young people all over the world. This generation is in big trouble if people cant learn how to interact with each other in a live forum and we need to get back to that as a human society if we are going to solve the worlds problems. Address the issue today and don’t let the next generation suffer because of the problems from this one.

  2. rpsafian Says:

    I strongly disagree with many of the points that thelenj1 and mrau188 made and think that Facebook is actually helping society as a whole. The first part I disagree with is the laziness factor. Yes, I do agree with you that many people, especially students, spend too much time on Facebook that instead they could be studying or doing something “productive”. However, I don’t think there is anyone that would devote his/her life to Facebook and stay on it everyday all the time, like some people spend reading or watching TV or writing. I do agree with the Maslow comment what all humans need to feel a sense of belonging, and I think there is no better place for people to go to feel like they belong or have something in common with other people than on Facebook. Users can subscribe to groups or fan pages where they can meet other people that have that similar interest in common and can exchange information about themselves to know more about the topic at hand. I think one of the biggest advantages to Facebook is connecting with old friends or people that you may not really know. I think its amazing how you can go on Facebook and reconnect with someone that you knew 1, 5, 10, or even 50 years ago by simply searching their name and looking for their profile, with no phone number, address, or any other information needed. I think this part of Facebook will be even more crucial 10 or 20 years from now when we think of that one kid from high school and want to ask him one more question or see how he has been.

    I also really disagree with your claim that technology is declining society’s social interaction. First, millions or billions of people can interact on Facebook with a common goal or interest. And to say that technology has decreased social interaction that has increased poverty, unemployment, and health issues is pretty ridiculous. If anything, technology is helping reverse these issues, and Facebook is connecting people around the globe, both those who create the ideas and those that are in need of help from technology. Overall I think Facebook is crucial to society and we will see how important it has been in our lives in the near future.

  3. adamskt Says:

    I agree with parts of what each of these posters/commenters have stated, but overall, I do not think that Facebook is hurting society. I think that many of the arguments made by mrau188 and thelenj1 would be more applicable to the internet in general. I agree that many people spend more time than is healthy on a computer, but I do not think that all of this time is spent on Facebook. There is a limited amount of time that can be spent on Facebook. I think we have all been in a situation (especially during finals week) where we have looked at everything that has happened in the recent history. Facebook on its own would not be enough to keep people glued to their computers.

    The benefits listed by rpsfian basically sum up my feelings about the website. Personally, I would never be able to keep in touch the way I do with my high school friends without Facebook. And advertising for events like benefit dinners for student organizations would be far less successful without Facebook. Rather than repeating benefits brought up by rpsfian, I would like to conclude that life without Facebook would be much more difficult. Facebook is not, in my opinion, hurting society.

  4. mpogoda3 Says:

    While I believe that Facebook is not helping society, it is no more hurtful than any other form of media outlet, such as TV and the radio. As we have always learned growing up, “too much of anything is bad for us.” This theory would mean that sleeping too much is bad for us (fact) and so is drinking water (fact). Facebook, in my opinion, does not deter people from believing in the American Dream, it is just another outlet for relaxation. People can still achieve their goals through hard work and perseverance, which will never change no matter how technologically advanced we become.

    What I do want to touch on is how Facebook DOES add a sense of belonging to all of its users. For me, whenever I receive a friend request or wall post, I am always excited. It adds a sense of ‘being liked’ when you receive that type of attention. While many boys and girls are all over Facebook every day for these reasons, there should not be a huge cause for concern on the effects of the website.

  5. albosco Says:

    The debate over social networks and whether or not they are helping or hurting society is one that will probably never end. Personally, I am indifferent to the debate because there are ideas on each side that I agree with. I do think that websites like facebook or twitter are causing people to be somewhat more lazy. I also think that they are inhibiting some peoples’ ability to be appropriate in a social setting (may be a little extreme). Getting on facebook and commenting on my friends wall is so much easier then calling them or seeing them in person and having an actual conversation. So yes, it has caused be to be a little lazy in my personal friendships at times. However, I also think that social networks are a great way to find opportunities and information. There are a lot of things that go on in society that I wouldn’t know as much about if it weren’t for my friends posting about it on twitter and facebook. Also, these types of websites allow people expand their networks and find opportunities they may not have without them. For example, I have seen many people on facebook post about how their employers are hiring and to contact them for information. I think that social networks can be extremely beneficial, as long as people are careful about how much they are using them.

  6. JustinMandeltort Says:

    Facebook is one of the worst best things to happen to our society. “The Social Network” was definitely a plus, that movie was pretty awesome, one of my favorite movies probably. Another positive aspect of Facebook is the lines of communication and reconnection that it opens up for all. Its easy to find classmates on facebook, which helps more then you think when it comes to meeting for a project or working on something together. You can easily buy tickets on facebook or even rent an apartment, its easy to find things you want on facebook. Additionally, you can check out pictures and profiles of people you haven’t seen in awhile and catch up with them without actually meeting up with them. These are all the positives of facebook, but some things are obviously negative. People go through facebook to do things they should be doing in person, which obviously hurts some peoples social skills. Facebook does also, like the author said, create some laziness which hurts people in the long-run. Regardless of what we think, facebook isn’t going anywhere, we might as well embrace it and take the positive out of it then complain over the negatives. If you don’t think facebook is “good for society” then don’t make an account.

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