The Red Associates, a Denmark-based company, recently conducted a survey with 500 Facebook users to learn more about how people are interacting online. A whopping 90% of those surveyed said that they’d like for Facebook to deepen/strengthen their relationships with other users. Very few, though, feel it actually does. Interesting, especially when on its homepage, Facebook advertises it “helps you connect and share with the people in your life.”
Share – yes; Facebook does a fantastic job facilitating its users in sharing various pieces of themselves with friends, such as photos, personal statuses, notes, etc. But does it help them connect? I’m not so sure about that one. I suppose it really depends on how the Facebook user defines “connecting”. Here’s the breakdown:
connect #1: linking together The most basic usage of the word, and probably the most accurate in describing the connecting experience on Facebook. People “connect” when they accept a friend request. And that’s it. Literally like a little line segment, with (in)frequent stalking bobbing between the two points.
connect #2: establishing communication Connecting and reconnecting with folks on Facebook is what it’s all about. People want to know what their buds are up to. But let’s face it – once the initial friend request/approval has been made (and maybe a “hello, it’s been a while” message), most Facebook relationships are maintained through sharing.
connect #3: emotional association Every Red Associates surveyors’ wish: that people can deepen their personal relationships with other users through the various tools and applications provided on Facebook. The problem? People don’t “connect” as much as they do comment. Facebook is a space for transparency; it should come at no surprise shared material isn’t very personal. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s a complaint, it’s drama. And it generates a whole lot of relatively depthless conversation.
Looks more like we’re keeping tabs than connecting. At some point, social media will need to come up with a solution for its users to connect with friends on a more meaningful level, and more than just a select few of several hundred at that. But for now it’s okay. Surely there’s got to be two people out there falling in love over Farmville.