Obinna Chukwuezie

African socio-development issues

Facebook and Facefriends

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Indeed, the people of the world are in dire need of friendship because diplomacy has not entirely succeeded in building authentic relationships. People were looking for a more effective alternative and Facebook offered that platform- to create friendship without barriers. Facebook has no age, no sex, no religion and no social status…even the US president, Barak Obama is on Facebook. It was reported that it was through Facebook he mobilized most of his voters as well as raised most of his campaign funds.

Even here in Nigeria, our president, Goodluck Jonathan announced his intention to run the 2011 presidential elections on Facebook, which has no precedence in Nigeria’s political history. Tim May said, “National borders aren’t even speed bumps on the information superhighway.” 20 years back it was not so!

Now, how true is that Facebook-friendship platform? Are people really friends on facebook? Does accepting friends invitations connote becoming friends? In recent times, I have seen where people are friends on Facebook but enemies off Facebook. Ha ha ha! Recently, a guy “unfriended” his friend because he didn’t marry his sister.

Some people should have no business being on Facebook, because they rape and abuse friendship by being unfriendly. Yeah, so much unfriendly overtures. I think the founder of Facebook should begin to set new criteria for friendship because Facebook is re-defining friendship. I thought friends should tell friends the truth in the face, but on Facebook, when you do that, you stand the risk of being unfriended.

Yeah, Facebook has come to stay and is the 2nd most-used site after google. I think there should be an “introduction to Facebook” when kids start school to prepare them ahead. Ha ha ha. I went for an interview, they asked me who is the founder of Facebook? It was just another way of knowing if I am social media-compliant…ha ha ha. Virtually everything is done on Facebook. In Nigeria, its funny what people do on Facebook: Users say “I’m sleeping” even when they are awake. “I’m hungry” and all sorts of funny comments and their friends join them to pass comments which sometimes makes me laugh. Most youths buy smart phones and other digital devices just to Facebook even when they cannot feed well.

In the Arab world, the on-going revolution was kick-started on Facebook. Job search can be done on Facebook; so also marketing…the use of Facebook is endless.

Obviously, everyone needs a friend. “Its only a lion that does not have friends,” an Igbo proverb. However, making friends is not easy, but with Facebook, its just a click away. You can make as much as a thousand friends in a minute. If there is no limit on the number of friends on Facebook, some people would have 6 billion people on the surface of the earth as their friends. You and I know that this is false friendship. Bill Gates said, “The Internet (Facebook I think) is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg. In Nigeria, he would have been conferred with over 20 honoris causa, several traditional titles including “facilitator of friendship”. To many, Facebook is the “best” or “worst” thing that has happened to young people in the 21st century. I’ll describe it as the 21st century wonder.  Facebook has re-connected old friends, but separated new friends.

In a strict sense, I do not have many friends on Facebook as compared to some other friends of mine, not because I am not known by many people, or that many people do not admire my personality,  and even beautiful writings, or that many people do not send me friends request daily. In practical terms, I am not quick to accept friends request. No, not that. Though, I have accepted quite a good number of friends’ invitation and for others, I simply asked myself; must everyone be my friend on Facebook or any other social network? Which kind of friend is such that we only communicate only when I am online. Such friendship has no depth, and so is not real, because it defeats the essence of true friendship.

I take strong thoughts to accept friends request, because just a click of acceptance might be a click to sexual harassment, threats, cult initiation, scam, loss of privacy and more painful, wasted time.

Who are the worst victims of Facebook friendship? Most guys who send friendship requests to girls lie about their status and so many girls end up saying “had I known…”

How well do you know your friends on Facebook? In my research, 98% of Facebookers do not know 98% of their friends outside Facebook, yet they are friends; they miss each other; they cant wait to see or hear from each other. Sadly, no one cares until disaster occurs. I checked my girlfriend’s friends list recently, and shouted at the large number of friends she has. When I asked her who the friends are, she said “ghost friends.” She was enjoying the ride until one began to threaten her. She has begun to unfriend them.

Facebook has indeed changed and it will keep changing. Perharps, I need to ask the 27 year-old founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, if the current trend on Facebook is what he had in mind. Did he intend Facebook to be a place you stare each other in the face, yet thousands of miles away from them and even in their mind? Paul Carvel said “Internet: absolute communication, absolute isolation.”

Everyday, new features are being introduced on Facebook to make it more interactive and I am afraid that soon there will be marriage button for those who wish to be joined on Facebook. It might be imminent because people are friends without emotions, yet addicted to each other.

To many young people, I think that Facebook is becoming idleness simplified or popularized. Facebook is where intelligent people chat away precious time. If they are idle, they log on to Facebook and having nothing to do there, they begin to send requests indiscriminately. Now, how true is that friendship offer? How serious do you take their friendships, or is it merely friendship by convenience; what do you think?

Recently, a girl sent me a “friend request” and usually, before I accept friendship from an entirely unknown person, I often check up the senders friends list and sometimes send a message asking the person why he/she wants to be friends with me. In response, the girl said “I saw you and you are handsome…” my friend defined it as friendship by good looks. It’s a daily thing on Facebook and that’s quite incredible what inspires Facebookers quest for friendship. The truth is that the girl does not know if the picture she saw is a true picture of myself, or I am merely an “impostor” like most Facebookers. When I asked the girl if we met and I am not who she saw, what will she do? She said “I’ll unfriend you” Ha ha ha.

To many young people, Facebook is addictive. The addiction story is the same in all countries. Check out the hours young people spend on Facebook and the number of young people who visit Facebook daily and you will find the answers. It is estimated that over 250 million people visit Facebook daily. The addiction is even more in the workplace as many offices have blocked their staff from Facebook, because of it’s potential to make staff unproductive.

In the neighbourhood, even when young people don’t have money, they will have to borrow to Facebook. They become entirely restless and visibly worried when they could not gain access to Facebook due to poor connectivity. Facebook addiction is increasingly too high, even among high/secondary school students who had no prior information about making friends. In most cases, the results are often disastrous.

Again, to some it is an ego-thing. Someone bragged to me ‘I have over 1,200 friends on Facebook from different parts of the world.” Ha ha ha.

On Facebook, people add you as a Friend but walk past you in the streets, yet they are your friends via Facebook. On Facebook, relationships are perfect. Your comments or posts are “liked” but hated. Facebookers post the best of their pictures to gain admiration and commendation even when in reality, they do not look as they portray. They post pictures that are photo-shopped to show they have no pimples but dimples. Facebook is where everyone is fine, no ugly person. Liars believe they are telling the truth by churning out religious clichés, philosophical and wise sayings to show the world how close they are to God, but their deeds daily has no iota of God in them. All these deceptions are to get friends or keep them…Friendship founded on falsehood!

Sadly though, Facebook is where your ENEMIES(who are among your friends list) are the ones that visit your profile the most…off course, not out of excitement. On Facebook, some of your FRIENDS and FAMILY block you because your progress irritates them; and even though you write what you are really thinking, someone takes it the wrong way.

Facebook has come to stay, so begin to re-define who should be your friend if you truly need a friend. Thank you for being my friend.

Author: Obinna Chukwuezie

Creative story-teller, writer, spokesman, public speaker, PR and media manager, Radio and TV presenter, communication strategist, newspaper and magazine columnist, media enterpreneur, reporter, panelist and public affair analyst.

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