Facebook Not as Social as You Think

Facebook is considered the world’s biggest social network. With almost a billion users around the world, the service intends to connect friends, family members and acquaintances online. But is Facebook really as social as it claims to be?

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Facebook started out as an online directory for checking out college classmates. Since then, the service has expanded to include other functionalities like photo sharing, tagging, messaging, and the like.

But, even as Facebook has allowed millions of people around the world to get connected, the social value of the service has somehow diminished because of the lack of depth in social connections. Facebook cites the average number of friends to be 190 each user. But with these many connections does Facebook make it easier to actually connect with your friends online?

Take classmates, for example. One of the reasons I add classmates to Facebook is to catch up on old times. Connecting with old classmates usually involves checking on their current interests and activities. Who’s working where? Who has married whom? But since this information is included on their profiles anyway, users can do away with the cursory greetings and messages.

Facebook as a platform has enabled users to connect and communicate. However, communication has become passive. We post updates. We read friends’ updates. We sometimes post comments and interact, but not everyone does.

Case in point: do you still email your friends directly when you want to get in touch, or do you simply post a status update and wait until interested friends post a reply?

With this, the definition of being a friend has been diminished to being simply connected to someone in any small way, regardless of whether there is actually any interaction between two friends. And, Facebook is capitalizing on these connections, and has made billions of dollars in business and capital infusion along the way.

But, arguably, the social media landscape is changing. Mobile is now the name of the game, and Facebook is struggling to remain relevant in an increasingly mobile environment. Users better interact using real-time and instant media, which include mobile apps and messaging services. Will Facebook succeed in becoming the center of all these interactions — whether social or simply informational — once everyone is using mobile devices to connect?

Yes, Facebook is a network with hundreds of millions of interconnected users. But, it seems the world’s biggest social network it’s more network than social.