In this experiment, our team of dedicated social researchers endeavored to investigate the relationship between facebook and social capital.
Each member reversed his/her facebook situation: those who had facebooks stayed off THE ENTIRE WEEK, and those who didn't (i.e. Chris) made facebooks and used it EVERY DAY!
Prediction: That facebook obviously diminishes social capital by creating artificial communication and consuming time that could be devoted to real interactions.
Here is a video compilation of our responses to the experiment halfway through the week:
For me, it was apparent that our prediction was mostly accurate. After making and participating in the world of facebook, I did find that it wastes time and promotes a sort of communication that does not foster true friendship, trust, or any emotions associated with face-to-face interaction. I can see how facebook is useful and entertaining, but my conclusion is that it, on the whole, decreases social capital.
I found that staying off facebook for a week did not significantly alter my social capital. If anything, it hindered a quick and easy form of communication between me and the people in my life. Because I had a facebook application on my phone, facebook was a convenient way to send and reply to messages, check useful information on people such as birthdays and phone numbers, and load pictures (for example, I wanted to show some of my face-to-face friends a picture of my brother, but I had no way to do so without facebook). On the other hand, I didn't realize how much of a distraction facebook was until I abstained from it for an extended period. While facebook does foster instant communication, it doesn't necessarily foster a sense of community between people; face-to-face interactions build this sense of community naturally. Therefore, whether or not facebook increases or decreases social capital is undecided for me. However, I do know that the change was not so large in either direction once I left facebook. Perhaps this was because I didn't use my facebook that often to begin with. One possible conclusion might be that only in excess does facebook hinder social capital.
Not using Facebook for a week was not as hard as I thought it would be. After five o'clock is when I usually get on facebook and this lab helped me be a lot more efficient. I finished homework and other assignments in no time at all and I was able to do things that I haven't been able to do in awhile. My social capital wasn't really affected because my close friends and I don't usally talk through there, but I did miss out on some great photo up dates and event invites.
I have deactivated my Facebook for over 2 months now, for personal reasons of course. I have actually never felt more isolated. I haven’t talked to anyone online, commented on anyone’s status, nor stalked people for about 58 days. I feel so disconnected. Not that I’m encouraging stalking or anything… but it did have its certain benefits. I feel disconnected to people I should be friends with, the people I have met since my deactivation. Now when I make new friends, they say “Facebook me” like as if it’s a word in ’s 1783 dictionary. Everyone’s so attached to it. Yet I can understand; it keeps us connected. You can join groups and keep in contact with people from your past or who moved to a different country per say. It increases our social capital, and disabling Facebook completely plummeted mine. And yet I still don’t regret receiving the “you have deactivated your Facebook account” email. I wonder how long I’ll be able to last in my socially inept world without hitting that activate button…
Facebook never occupied much of my time but after swearing it off I realized that through facebook I made a lot of artificial contact with people I really don't know well at all. In fact, some people I would carry on entire chatting conversations on facebook and yet we wouldn't even acknowledge each other in "face-to-face" space. For me, the primary benefit of Facebook is the ease with which I can keep in touch with people I don't see every day. In this sense, a week without facebook didn't do much damage but thinking about it I realized that many of the friendships I hold quite dear would never be maintained as well as they are if it weren't for published albums, wall posts, and facebook messaging. Ultimately, a change in facebook usage did not heavily affect my social capital in terms of actual connectivity but if I didn't have a facebook at all I would be left out of plans for reunions, commemorating groups or events, notices about meetings and clubs, and I would be way out of the inside joke loop. The hardest part was receiving an email notification about a message I got and not being able to go read it and respond - but if I didn't have a facebook I wouldn't be getting those emails and thus that would not be an issue at all!