How Facebook Ruins Friendships

Ken’s Take: A increasingly common view, not limited to old-schoolers …

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Excerpted from WSJ:  How Facebook Ruins Friendships, Aug. 26, 2009 

Here’s where you and I went wrong: We took our friendship online. First we began communicating more by email than by phone. Then we switched to “instant messaging” or “texting.” We “friended” each other on Facebook, and began communicating by “tweeting” our thoughts—in 140 characters or less—via Twitter.

All this online social networking was supposed to make us closer. And in some ways it has. Thanks to the Internet, many of us have gotten back in touch with friends from high school and college, shared old and new photos, and become better acquainted with some people we might never have grown close to offline.

But there’s a danger here, too. If we’re not careful, our online interactions can hurt our real-life relationships.

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“You’re a narcissist”

I’m tired of loved ones who claim they are too busy to pick up the phone, or even write a decent email, yet spend hours on social-media sites, uploading photos of their trips and parties, posting quirky one-liners or sending coded messages via song lyrics.

The problem is much greater than which tools we use to communicate. It’s what we are actually saying that’s really mucking up our relationships.

Amidst all this heightened chatter, we’re not saying much that’s interesting, folks.  “Why is your life so frickin’ important and entertaining that we need to know? It’s called narcissism.”

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“This is something I just didn’t need to know”

Consider, for example, how people you know often seem different online—not just gussied up or more polished, but bolder, too, displaying sides of their personalities you have never seen before.

In all that information you’re posting about your life—your vacation, your kids, your promotions at work, even that margarita you just drank—someone is bound to find something to envy or hate or use against you.

“Facebook prolongs the period it takes to get over someone, because you have an open window into their life, whether you want to or not … You see their updates, their pictures and their relationship status.”

Facebook can also be a mecca for passive-aggressive behavior. “Suddenly, things you wouldn’t say out loud in conversation are OK to say because you’re sitting behind a computer screen.”

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What to Do

First, watch your own behavior, asking yourself before you post anything: “Is this something I’d want someone to tell me?”

Second, remember that the world is watching. “Is this really something I want the world to know about me?”

Third,  positively reward others, responding only when they post something interesting, ignoring them when they are boring or obnoxious. (Commenting negatively will only start a very public war.)

[Fourth, keep your circle of “friends” small,.  Think about limiting it to, well, your real friends.”]

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204660604574370450465849142.html

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