The results of a new study suggest that Facebook may actually enhance real-life social experiences, contrary to the popular belief that Facebook triggers the disintegration of face-to-face interaction.
Research from the University of Texas probed nearly one thousand students and recent graduates and made some unexpected discoveries. Quoth The Province:
"Our findings suggest that Facebook is not supplanting face-to-face interactions between friends, family and colleagues," said S. Craig Watkins, an associate professor of radio, TV and film who headed the research team. "In fact, we believe there is sufficient evidence that social media afford opportunities for new expressions of friendship, intimacy and community."
More than 60 percent of Facebook users said posting status updates was among the most popular activities, followed by 60 percent who wrote comments on their profile and 49 percent who posted messages and comments to friends.
The research also suggests that, although Facebook is used by both males and females equally, eeach gender does so in different ways.
"There is a noteworthy difference in orientation in how to use a tool like Facebook. We found that for women the content tends to be more affectionate, and (they) are especially interested in using it for connection," said Watkins. "For men, it's more functional," he added.
Watkins pointed out that, for example, women are more likely to post pictures of social gatherings with friends, while men are more likely to post pictures of hobbies, or post a political or pop-culture related link.
The last interesting point raided is how Facebook audiences are everyone - from friends to family to your boss. Yet, historically people act very different in front of these seperate groups of people, often even in front of different friends.
"Facebook brings all our different networks and social scenes together. We present ourselves in different ways, whether to friends, co-workers, or family," Craig noted. "Facebook engagement is not uniform. It's constantly evolving and in a state of flux, and that presents a challenge."