Personally, I have been a Facebook user since 2007, and in that time Facebook has become one of my primary methods of communication with all of my friends and family. I did not really choose this, instead it just kind of happened as a result of the immense popularity of the site. Gehl discusses something known as “the network effect” (pg 225). This is the idea that as more people sign up for Facebook the more pressure is put on their peers to join as well. Eventually everyone will have signed up for the site, as a result of this social pressure system. I am a first hand case of that phenomenon, as I recall back in 2007 hearing about the site from friends. I was showed the site at my friend’s house, and within a week I had become an active Facebook user. Facebook’s immense success is essentially based on this simple concept.
What I believe Gehl is saying by the end of his article is that we simply do not need websites such as Facebook to survive, although by today’s standards to most people that seems to be the case. Facebook brings forth no actual physical interaction. He furthermore goes on to say, based on the testimonials of others, that Facebook is just not real.
“It feels like sites like Facebook channel all of our free expression into neat, pre- moulded boxes. “Susie is a fan of writing!” “Ed is in love with Tina!” Dang it, show us the writing! Show us the love! It’s like it’s become impossible to express any relationship below “friend”, and it’s impossible to express any feeling below “is a fan of” (Pg. 233).
I felt that this was a fantastic quote from the article to sum up the point that Gehl is trying to make. Facebook takes away all of the intricacies from life, and simply turns you from a human being into an online digital page with very little form of expression. When you post something or message someone on Facebook you are naturally going to keep it short and concise, compared to the same detailed message you may have delivered through the mail or over the phone years earlier.
Gehl uses one more quote which I feel sums this up perfectly:
“This is my call: Make it longer. Read more books, essays, poems; write more; watch challenging movies and plays; have lengthy discussions with wise friends; learn an instrument or how to take a quality photograph; go for long walks (or runs or bike rides etc” (Pg 234).
Facebook takes all this away from our society, and I for one do not believe that is a good thing.