This paper describes the use of Facebook as my personal preferred area for interpersonal communication. The other major areas of interpersonal communication include emotional intelligence, conflict, nonverbal communication, perceiving and listening and communication for identity. However, I prefer Facebook as an area for interpersonal communication and this paper thus analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of using social media as a platform for interpersonal communication.
Social Media - Why I use Facebook
I am a regular user on Facebook and spend around 20 hours a week on this website. I use the website for interacting with my family and friends. For any purpose of communication, I first choose Facebook wherein I send in a message or chat with the person and then maybe meet up as and when the situation requires. Apart from this, I am an active member on various communities, discussions and groups that interest me. Like any other youngster, posting pictures on Facebook, commenting and liking another friend's pictures, statuses and sharing the information forms a part of my regular Facebook usage pattern. The next section describes a personal instance which I would like to share for experience sharing purposes.
Social Media Discussion - Experience Sharing
The social media has spread out as another communication channel similar to a phone conversation or a face-to-face dialogue. Social media websites such as Facebook help in connecting not only with the friends with whom one has lost touch or is not in the same time-zone for that matter; but also helps in discussing ideas on a common platform in forums, discussion boards or in a community. I would like to describe one such instance wherein I happened to interact with around more than 100 people in less than 2 hours. I have been a regular supporter of Arsenal (the Football Club) and regularly visit their fan page on the Facebook. However, in one of the matches, since the referee gave a wrong decision, there was an outburst amongst the Arsenal Fans. I being a regular on the fan page was discussing my thoughts and ideas as to why and how Arsenal could have won the match they just had lost. Most of the people on the fan page don"t know each other but they all share a personal passion which is Football and moreover, it is the passion for their team - Arsenal. While the comments were overflowing on the "Arsenal Page" on Facebook, one of the fans posted a web link and requested all the fans to visit that page. The requested page was an open forum discussion on the football matches wherein the latest discussion was on the just finished match of Arsenal and Manchester United. The discussion page was full of heated arguments and personal comments towards each of the teams. As I was an Arsenal supporter, I vested out my frustration in the forum by posting my comments against the referee and the opponent club - Manchester United. Within the next 2 hours, there were odd 100 comments both from the Arsenal supporters as well as the Manchester United followers. There were comments that were directed personally at me and many other comments followed in support of those acquisitions while Arsenal supporters backed me by lashing out at those comments. After spending 3 hours in that discussion forum and several comments later is when I decided to leave the forum.
The next section is an analysis of this experience and how social media as an area for interpersonal communication can have advantages as well as limitations which can cause misunderstandings.
Social Media Experience Analysis
From the above-mentioned experience, I realized that Facebook or other social media websites have preceded thought sharing and discussions from face-to-face settings to a virtual setting. In a virtual world the identity of individuals is presented in a tailored way i.e. we all present or show the emotions that we want the world to see and may actually not be the real emotions we have for a situation. For instance, when Arsenal lost the match, my real emotion was to vent out my frustration over the referee"s decision that was considered wrong even by the TV umpires. Instead, when my emotions got fuelling from other Arsenal supporters, I vented out my frustration over the Manchester United supporters, accusing Manchester United of buying out the referees. Social media as an area of interpersonal communication also suffers from narcissism as, within the digital world, we all choose to believe that we and our opinions are right and that is what we enforce other individuals to believe. I felt that such a strong belief in one"s own opinions and displaying them gives courage to the individuals since in the social forums or in the digital media the participants are unaware of the real identities, nature and emotions of the other individuals. My comments in the discussion forum were equitable to a person throwing a stone in the mob since all the participants were faceless names who had united just for a cause - even if the cause was as small as losing out on a football game. This experience made me realize that it is the loneliness that attracts people predominantly on social media since social media provides a platform for the users to connect without having to move out of their homes. I also realized that if I had watched this game with a couple of friends at the bar, our discussion on the game would have ended then and there. On the other side, in a social media forum, the users have no control to direct a conversation or a discussion which usually results in either patronizing or completely refuting the arguments of the other participants. On a social media platform, users of the same thoughts unite on the social media websites wherein they form communities and endless share the thoughts that comfort them all. The discussion thus either becomes a conflict or an act of narcissism. To have a healthy discussion, it becomes important to view the ideas and thoughts of the others in a fair manner; but over a platform such as the social media websites, the ideas are lost in the mob and in debates. However, at the same time, I felt that such a discussion on Facebook also helps the participant in observing how their comments can be perceived.
Post Facebook Experience Sharing Instance
The above-mentioned instance happened around last year and in this section, I would like to share my views as how I perceive Facebook post this instance. For several weeks, I stopped using the discussion forums, community discussion posts this instance and got myself unregistered from such social feeds as I would not have wanted to indulge in a conflict anymore. I kept on using Facebook for my personal interaction with friends and family and had a discussion on this issue with my close friends in a face-to-face setting. They all suggested that despite the love and passion for a game or a team, the online users tend to get too personal with their opinions and any rejection to their thoughts and ideas only attracts a heated argument. The arguments can sometimes too illogical and still too direct and personal that these could not be ignored. Thus, everyone in my friend circle approved of my decision to stop using Facebook forums for discussing as trivial as a football game and that these discussions were best done with known people and friends. After some months, I once visited the fan page of Arsenal and then subsequently the discussion forum wherein the tone and dialect of arguments had not changed since my last visit. I read the arguments that were either completely patronized towards a team or showed complete hatred towards the team in the opposition. I thus realized that in the world of social media it is best not to indulge in a discussion of your interests and passions with unknown people. It is not to say that the people who use are not real but not knowing them personally basically implies anonymity which most of the users take advantage of to vent out their frustration, hatred and negativity. A social media platform though is a great area for interpersonal communication with known people, at times; it suffers from anonymity especially in such discussion forums. Also, post this event, I realized that interpersonal thoughts cannot be shared in a discussion forum that is central towards a sport, interest, hobby etc. since these forums have members who are either their patrons or a foolhardy who resents these particular interests and chooses to vent out his / her frustration in the forum/community. With the analysis and realization, I gained post event in the field of social media as an area of interpersonal communication, I would now summarize my key learning in the last section of this paper.
In conclusion, I would like to state that the social media websites are inevitable for use amongst the people in current times and interpersonal communication is bound to happen in the chats or in the discussion forums. However, the social media doesn't allow for the complete exchange of one"s reality and emotions with the other participants and there is always a degree of "fakeness" and perception involved in such a setting. I feel that a discussion on common affairs or sports etc. though is open to all on websites such as Facebook, the discussion is not well directed enough and ends up as either an extreme "liked" or a "disliked" debate. Overall, the social media does help in garnering responses from participants across the globe but lacks the personal setting or the environment that is important for communicating one"s personal emotions thoughts and feelings.