Disclaimer: This post reflects only my opinion and not necessarily that of my husband, who has a Facebook account.
I joined Facebook a couple years ago. At first, I really enjoyed finding old friends, perusing all their photos, and learning all kinds of interesting tidbits about their lives. Quickly, I amassed a good number of friends. The overwhelming majority were people with whom I had probably never been more than casually acquainted, of course, but that doesn't matter in the Facebook universe. We browsed each other's pages, but there was precious little real, active communication. And I noticed that even among my real, close friends, emails and phone calls were fewer and farther between. After all, we only needed to log on to learn that one friend was expecting a baby, or that another had just bought a house. But the fact that I didn't get to hear their news and congratulate them immediately in a more personal way made me sad.
Ultimately, it was Facebook's encouragement of my inner voyeur (a part of me that is better left un-encouraged) that led me to delete my account last January. I spent way too much time digesting all the teeny tiny tidbits of the lives of people who, honestly, weren't really my friends. Worse, I found myself envying others based on photos of vacations to exotic places, or how many people had wished them a happy birthday. Not healthy. So I quit.
It wasn't long before I began to get e-mails from friends wondering whether I had "un-friended" them. No, of course not. I had unfriended Facebook (or so I thought - I'm still not certain that my account has been fully deleted).
Now, nearly a year later, all too often when I catch up with friends, I'm surprised (and saddened) to find that I've missed hearing about significant events in their lives.
"Yeah, I put those pictures on Facebook."
Because almost everyone is on Facebook. And it's easy. And on the surface, I guess there's nothing terrible about that. But just as the advent of e-mail has virtually wiped out the art of letter-writing, and just as text and instant messages have begun to erode e-mail (not to mention basic spelling and punctuation), Facebook is slowly chipping away at long-distance friendship. When you keep up a friendship through correspondence and phone conversations, there is the capacity for give and take, for tangents, for real emotion and for reflection. By contrast, the typical wall post is not only read by all of a person's "friends," but is only a few lines long. No matter how many photos or status updates a Facebook user posts, a Facebook profile is still just a two-dimensional depiction; a person in brief. I don't know about you, but I prefer my friends to be the three-dimensional variety.
Quitting Facebook didn't exactly fix this problem. I am left out of the loop a lot of the time, because my friends forget that not everyone is on Facebook. But at least I remember to email or call them, because otherwise, I'd have no idea what they were doing. And then we can interact like real live people.