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Connect For Real Please May 28, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Essays, Reviews, Social Media, Trends.
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Hello Facebook, please understand connections are built on friendship and meaningful experiences with friends. Please create a context of trust, safety, and true connections. Your network has eroded our confidence as users and limiting our ability to actually connect.

Research shows instant intense connections affect the overall tenor of the ensuing relationship. Specific factors trigger such connections – physical proximity, vulnerability and a clearly defined community. They are all seriously lacking in Facebook.

Teams that click tend to work more effectively together. Couples in love at first sight are more passionate with each other. What makes people actually click and form instant intense connections? Think – meeting someone at a party, that spark on a first date.

Distance separating people greatly influences likelihood of a connection. The pal in school who sat beside you is probably your closer friend today. Likewise, scientists proved more likely to collaborate with other scientists who sat in the same corridor.

Those last few feet separating people really matter. While Facebook might create digital proximity, it’s impossible to recreate the intimacy of sitting next to someone. Facebook can’t do much about proximity, but there are two other factors it can do something about – Foster vulnerability and community.

It’s now difficult to be vulnerable on Facebook, that once intimate community that only included your college buddies. Vulnerability builds trust. Psychologists found that personal revelations make us more likely to connect because we become vulnerable and open, showing we trust those we disclose to.

Facebook is seen as Big Brother-like. It’s as if the company is a hidden microphone that threatens to expose what we’d really like to say. Who will see what we write on someone’s wall? If we comment on someone’s status, whose newsfeed will it show up in? Without that ability to be vulnerable, it is difficult to really connect with friends.

It’s really about a sense of community. Think of how close people get with their freshman dorm mates. You’re all new at school and together you form a clear, delineated community. Research shows that when people feel they belong to a community that experiences real world together, they’re much more likely to bond.

It used to be that a group of Facebook friends felt like a separate and delineated group. As the site shares more and more information with the “outside,” the walls of the community — that clear delineation — are becoming more porous and less effective at building bonds.

By dishing out a never-ending assault on privacy, Facebook is uniting its users at least. Nothing like a healthy dose of shared adversity to bond users, like soldiers in battle, into a coalition of Facebook quitters.

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