Friends with benefits: Do Facebook friends provide the same support as those in real life?
Friendship is an important social aspect of the society because it brings people together both in good and bad times. Like any other social fabric in the society such as education, religion, and leadership, friendship has been influenced by social media. Notably, people are not only harboring real life friends, but also those in an online platform such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Snap chat. Arguably, among these social media platforms, Facebook stands out as the most prominent one in connecting friends under different circumstances. As a result, there are increased cases of virtual friendship on Facebook, with the impact of such friends on an individual’s life remaining a controversy. While a section of social life commentators believe that such friends do not have a significant impact same as real life friends, the remaining analysts believe they serve the same friendship purpose. Kate Dailey is one of the social life writers who provided in-depth thoughts on the differences and similarities of real life and Facebook friends. Given this, the paper will map out the different positions taken by Kate Dailey in her excerpt regarding the different impact that real life and Facebook friends have in the life of an individual.
Dailey states that the most important thing about friendship is the feeling that one has when they realize that, there is somebody who is concerned about their lives, whether in a negative or positive manner. Ideally, this is applicable for both physical and online friends in the sense that they can contribute to your expressions in one way or another. On one side, real life friends offer a brick and mortar feeling, and one can share their challenges or success in a satisfactory manner (Ellison, Nicole, and Cliff, 1145). Similarly, Facebook friends can make one experience the same feeling by commenting on their status or liking their pictures. Both sets of friends contribute to psychological the wellbeing of an individual that concisely include life satisfaction and self-esteem (Ellison, Charles, and Cliff, 1150). Life satisfaction is the feeling that one has when they know that someone has noted their achievements or is willing to listen to their challenges. On the other hand, self-esteem is having confidence in one’s image and personal success. For instance, a person who is often scolded off in their physical environment can get solace from Facebook where, they interact with positive- minded friends. Notably, individuals who suffer from low self-esteem have opted to use social media to improve their confidence and personal image, where one takes the positive comments from their friends and use them as a motivation.
Real life friends still play a crucial part in determining an individual’s life satisfaction since they interact with them in a more practical manner. When the internet is off, and one has to face reality, real friends provide it and in the long-term, real-life friends tend to have a more significant impact than those online (Chou, and Nicholas, 1118). In the same vein, considering the life cycle of an individual; a majority of their time they are offline, which means if their inspiration was from Facebook, they might encounter more miserable than happy moments in their lifetime.
Dailey believes that both online and real life friends impact on how an individual views life. Having several friends makes one feel appreciated and tends to identify with a particular group whether virtual or physical. Those who are in contact and engage more with their friends on social media tend to see life as a happy and fair encounter (Chou, and Nicholas, 1119). In this context, awkward scenarios such as a stranger appreciating an individual’s success online and encouraging them make one feel the importance of coexistence as humanity. Moreover, most people tend to capture more of beautiful than sad moments on their social media platforms, which makes a person believe that there is happiness in life. In the same context, physical friend inspires such a feeling through conversations and participating in social activities together such as birthdays and exchanging gifts. In the same manner, some Facebook users have developed an addiction to social media, using it to communicate more than any other means. In the long term, the practice affects their written or spoken language such as having a detrimental effect on their education performance.
To sum up, Dailey portrays social media and real-life friends in different ways. Both sets of friends contribute to the quality of life of an individual in unique ways. Both sets of friends make one feel confident and experience some form of self-satisfaction. Both online and physical friends significantly contribute to these types of feelings in the life of an individual. However, real friends tend to offer more significant impact in the long term. Nonetheless, both sets of friends have adverse effects on a person because they can contribute to their misery through negativities such as personal insults and cyber bullying.
Chou, Hui-Tzu Grace, and Nicholas Edge. “They are happier and having better lives than I am”: the impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 15.2 (2012): 117-121.
Dailey, Kate. “Friends with Benefits: Do Facebook friends provide the same support as those in real life?” Newsweek 2009: N.P. Web. 7 Sept. 2016.
Ellison, Nicole B., Charles Steinfield, and Cliff Lampe. “The benefits of Facebook “friends:” Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites.” Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication 12.4 (2007): 1143-1168.
Sheldon, Pavica. “The relationship between unwillingness-to-communicate and students’ Facebook use.” Journal of Media Psychology 20.2 (2008): 67-75.