Feature

Does Facebook ruin friendships?

How boring or obnoxious posts on social-networking sites can drive friends up the wall, or even drive them away

Friends, “I love you dearly,” but I “don’t give a hoot” that you’re “having a busy Monday,” said Elizabeth Bernstein in The Wall Street Journal, or about which Addams Family member you most resemble. Call it “Facebook Fatigue”—too many of you are breaking a “cardinal rule of companionship: Thou Shalt Not Bore Thy Friends.” Facebook was supposed to bring us closer together, but when your posts are obnoxious, it can “hurt our real-life relationships.”

If you don’t want that “daily sandwich bulletin from your third cousin,” said Reader’s Digest, “that’s what the Hide function is for.” In fact, the privacy settings are the most important, “most underused” part of Facebook. The site is kind of like a “real-world get-together”—if that soirée were a “24-hour-a-day cocktail party” with everyone you ever knew in one room, “no host, and few boundaries.”

But that’s the point of Facebook, said Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, to be a “clearinghouse for your friends’ personal lives.” So if you don’t give “even a hoot” about how your friend’s day is going—and “that’s kind of an overshare, too, isn’t it?”—you probably shouldn’t use Facebook. Let the rest of us show how boring our lives are to the degree we choose.

But doesn’t it dumb down our discourse, said Noel Sheppard in NewsBusters, when we adult Facebook members start communicating like “our text message–crazed offspring”? Let’s hope this isn’t the future of friendship. “How shallow and uninformed will future generations be if this is the extent of their conversations?”

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