Facebook, Yet Again
I was discussing Facebook interaction today with my wife (a psychologist) in the car. I pointed out that, as far as I can see, many of my own students seem to think of Facebook as a neutral “tool” that their independent and autonomous selves manipulate. In other words, as a neutral tool it has no effects on the very constitutive nature of the selves using those tools, and so has no effects on the way those individuals form their own self-concepts, self-concepts that in turn affect how they behave with others, interact with the world, and so on.
Although this is a typical view to have about technology, I disagreed. Instead, technology is not neutral: we may create a technology X, but then participation in that technology turns around and itself produces particular kinds of selves, which in turn then see and interact with the world in new ways. Hardly neutral, and hardly independent. We may shape technology, but it just as ruthlessly shapes us in turn.
What do you think? Does Facebook (and similar technologies) shape the very nature of human relationships by altering the ways in which we think of ourselves, others, and the ways that we are related? Of course, this “interaction” need not always be negative or pernicious. It can also be beneficial and helpful.