Hold On! I Gotta Check Facebook Again
April 3, 2013

Hold On! I Gotta Check Facebook Again

I must admit something; I only check Facebook about once or twice a week. On a heavy week, I might actually check it thrice, but that is not likely. And when I do, I skim the News Feed and my messages, and log off as quickly as I can. I like to communicate with my friends and family, but I am not interested in anything else. I am not Facebook’s target.

However, many of us are. In fact, CNN posted an article that related a recent study’s findings on the use of Facebook, particularly via the Facebook app. The study found that people with smartphones and the Facebook app, check Facebook almost 14 times a day. A day! Whoa, that is a lot of Facebook time. Now, the average time of each of those checks is two minutes and 22 seconds with an average daily total of 30 minutes checking Facebook.

Accordingly, the majority of that time is spent browsing our News Feeds, Facebook messaging, posting updates, and playing games via the Facebook service. And we are checking it from any number of places: running errands, shopping, while at the gym, preparing meals, and—uh-oh—even at the movies. Furthermore, the peak time to check Facebook is in the evening, but people check it all day long.

I guess all that means that we check Facebook anytime from anywhere.

The CNN report said that the half an hour we spend total daily on Facebook is about a fifth of all the time we spend communicating daily. So one-fifth of the time that we communicate, we do so through technology. We do not do it face to face nor do we even do it while talking to each other over the phone. No, we do it by posting updates, liking our friends’ posts, and messaging each other, not to mention playing games.

That seems so, well, impersonal. These findings are good news for Facebook because they show that it still plays a role in people’s daily lives. I wonder, though, what the other impacts are? If we spend a fifth of the time communicating through a third party, what is that doing to our interpersonal skills? More importantly, what does that do to our relationships?

I know any number of studies about social media and relationships exist out there, but this new data about how many times a day we check our Facebook apps makes me wonder more about this. I like Facebook. It is interesting most of the time, and when it is not, I can hide posts or unfriend or ignore. Sometimes, I find really great ideas for my short stories, and I have found links to websites and articles that I have blogged about.

Facebook is an interesting forum for many things. But I do not spend so much time on it that I am no longer communicating verbally, emotionally, physically, or even orally. I wonder how many other Facebook users out there are like me. Am I the norm? Or am I outcast?

I don’t necessarily find these statistics troubling, per se. I do, however, wonder how they are changing us. I recently had a discussion with a student who is probably one who checks Facebook more than 14 times a day (remember, 14 is the average.), and she told me that Facebook has definitely impacted her romantic life.

She can check out a love interest’s page and learn about him artificially. Getting to know someone took me months, maybe even years, when I was her age because I did not have Facebook to help me “creep.” I had to find out about someone gradually. This helped me to form a bond. For this student, she never gets to the bond-forming stage because Facebook shows her so much. Well, she has not yet gotten to form a bond, I should say. And she blames Facebook.

In fact, she told me that when she first meets a guy, she sighs with relief if he says he does not have Facebook. For her, that means that she can get to know him slowly and not have to worry about learning (or misunderstanding as often is the case) too much too fast.

Perhaps relationships are evolving and moving to something new and different because of social media like Facebook. All I can say is I am sure glad that I am not a member of the Facebook generation. All this is just too much pressure.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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