Have you ever wondered if Facebook cheapens your relationships? Seriously, have you thought about whether you’re building relationships or just serving some narcissistic need to feel informed, important, and connected? About whether you really care about people or are simply using social conventions to get ahead in life?

Note: If your approach to Facebook and other social media is just lead generation and selling stuff, you probably won’t care about the rest of this post. But if you value relationships and care about your friends and acquaintances as people, keep reading and then leave your opinions in the comments.

I love Facebook.

I think Facebook (and social media in general) is great. It’s great that I have an easy way to keep up with my friends from high school and church and to meet new people. Sure, there are some things that just can’t be replaced – like being in the same place at the same time – but there are a lot of things that it does really well.

In many ways Facebook is like CRM for my friends and acquaintances. It’s how I can keep up with what’s going on in their lives (or at least what they share). It’s how I remember birthdays and anniversaries. It’s even how I often learn about prayer needs and social events.

And it requires so little effort. I love that.

And I hate Facebook.

Because it requires so little effort.

There’s a part of dumping my brain to electronic storage that’s strangely wonderful and it sure reduces my stress over forgetting important dates. I’m not usually very good at remembering birthdays and stuff (ask my brother about that), so I’ve been known to forget the not-so-occasional birthday. But because I value my friends and family, I want to remember and it’s a load off my mind to know that Facebook remembers them for me.

But making things easy also cheapens them. It’s so easy to wish my friends a happy birthday that I don’t even have to think about it. I can just click on the links, write “Happy birthday!” once, copy, and paste away. Slick as a whistle.

And almost entirely meaningless.

So meaningless, in fact, that I sometimes forget that I’ve wished someone a happy birthday. I’ve actually gone to a friend’s profile to wish him (or her) a happy birthday only to discover that I’d already done it. And I didn’t even remember.

Meaningless. It was so easy, so automatic that I didn’t remember doing it. It was like I’d turned into a mindless “happy birthday” machine. It dehumanized me and my friend.

Disengage your mind, your will, and your emotions. Click here. No effort required.

So, I’m thinking that sometimes the effort in remembering is what makes a relationship meaningful. That, perhaps, dedicating at least a couple of my brain cells shows that I actually care about my friends as people.

Do you think Facebook makes cheapens your relationships?

Photo credit: faster panda kill kill

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