So, there are dozens of articles out there about how social media is driving us all further apart, destroying a sense of community, encouraging people to live as hermits, and so on. And I am not going to argue with that, because goodness knows I've seen it in my own life.
When I first joined Facebook about a year and a half ago, I was amazed, amused and otherwise pretty darn happy about how many people from South Plains were on FB. I told Chad at the time, "South Plains has 1200 members and about 700 of them are on Facebook; who needs community groups? We can all log on at once on Sunday night."
Obviously, I was joking (mostly-- that would be a good way to have multiple conversations at once without a lot of noise and people getting interrupted). But when I made the same joke at church a few weeks later, there were a lot of unamused people. I can only presume that they had already had the same idea, but didn't want anyone else to know they thought it was a good plan.
On the other hand, I have noticed that the founding idea of Facebook-- to enhance real-life relationships-- has happened for me. I went from talking to friends at church once or twice a week to "talking" to them every day. And suddenly we were talking about all sorts of stuff, well beyond the "Did you have a good week?"-type conversation one tends to have when one only has five minutes to talk to someone on a Sunday morning. Plus-- and this is the holy grail, as is were, of Facebook-- it has been much easier to keep up, and/or reconnect, with family and friends who live far away. And since moving a couple of months ago, I've been extremely grateful for Facebook.
But of course, laziness does take over; we have a "like" button. And also, if all the hype is to be believed, a "dislike" button. And because it is marginally easier to click "Like" rather than clicking in the comment box to say, "Cool!" or "Wow!" or "Yay!", that's what happens.
I'm not really bothered by this-- goodness knows I appreciate the "like" button, too-- but sometimes I wonder: Why did you like this? What were you thinking about it? Those questions are especially pressing when my first thought is: Really? You liked that?
There's no telling where social media will go next. But people who aren't willing to give up actual human contact are going to have to work pretty hard to keep the offline interaction going.