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Does Facebook make you a different person?

A Facebook friend had the following interesting status on her wall:

I’m always curious when I hear people mention, ‘Facebook friends’, Facebook behaviour’, ‘Facebook mannerisms’..are we so different here than what many think of as ‘real life’ ? unless of course you wear different masks for different phases and areas of life..

In study after study, researchers and media seems to suggest that somehow the Social Networking sites are creating issues in lives of people that weren’t hitherto there.  Is that really true?

Even when divorces happen because of Facebook – infidelity or other reasons – those cases occur because the seed for that is there.  The avenues to express and meet may be there now, which weren’t there earlier.  But that is the exact same challenge that happened when someone moved from a village to a city.  Or when you move from a two person family to a joint family.

The number of people you interact with increases of the scale and amplifies the quirks of personalities of all involved to a higher pitch.  Some flaw in personality, which was being suppressed or not even acknowledged comes out with the anonymity of an online network.  But this anonymity advantage was also present in a big city, where a person could do a lot of things knowing reasonably well that the next guy doesn’t care and doesn’t know you.

Facebook also provides the same advantage but at a much higher level.  It is city living on steroids and many times amplified.

So when this friend says using “Facebook” as a prefix for normal things like behavior, friends etc doesn’t make them any different; I agree.  Qualitatively these things aren’t any different, even though quantitatively they may be.  After all, even when someone does something on FB – even with a “different mask”, it is s/he who is doing it – whatever the mask, not the Facebook.  So the behavior is of a person itself – whether on or off the Facebook.  It is simply facilitated by (1) Greater anonymity (2) Number of possible relationships/contacts – which act as accentuating factors.

So is Facebook made you live your life differently?



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