Bencz code or something like it

The Facebook Lonely

I was struck by a recent article that describes the effect of social media as such:

Talk to enough lonely people and you’ll find they have one thing in common: They look at Facebook and Twitter the way a hungry child looks through a window at a family feast and wonders, “Why is everyone having a good time except for me?”

Loneliness, though, is not about friendship quantity so much as quality and quality friendships require time, effort and intimacy to form.

Making Friends on “Social” Media

Intimacy in relationships requires at least two things, trust and honesty, and these are closely interrelated. To tell someone something very personal - to be honest about it - I would have to trust that person to receive and handle the information appropriately and with integrity. But before you trust the recipient, you have to trust the medium. Facebook’s repeated attempts to make users’ profiles more public means that this is impossible.

So what do most people do with Facebook? The fact that major corporations start and maintain their own Facebook profiles should give you the obvious answer - perception management. When dealing with an information-leaking medium like Facebook, that’s really all that’s left. The risk of future employers, significant others, and friends seeing your dirty laundry means that only the clean laundry makes the cut. The achievements, the grad photos, the new cars - they’re up there. The tears, the struggles, the pain get left on the cutting room floor.

Twitter, by the way, is no better for deep relationship building. However Twitter has the decency to be honest about it. Facebook pretends to be about friends when it’s really about managing your own image.


Snapchat seems to be a popular thing. Maybe it’s because it allows, at least in some small way, control over the spread of private information. Perception management is no longer always the desired goal.

While there are open-source alternatives taking shape, the focus always seems to be on the technology (often peer-to-peer) while otherwise aping Facebook’s features. This now seems to be like the wrong approach to take. The focus should be on making a better social network - one that encourages and nurtures relationships instead of stunting them. What would that look like? I don’t know, but I hope to see it in my lifetime.