It’s started. With the (re?) introduction of Groups, Facebook has started down the path of being less social. Those who gerrymander themselves from others on the Web are not being social, they’re being anti-social. Okay, they are also being human. But for me, the best of social networking is in finding likeminds around the block, country and world. Sure, I like knowing what far off college pals are doing. And I’m okay knowing what high school classmates whose pictures I don’t recognize care about. And yes, I know it can become unmanageable if you have too many friends and followers and can’t keep up with the stream. Manage.
Research is probably driving Facebook’s more towards Groups with members are saying I need a way to organize my friends. Yet the feature is going to narrow users’ worldviews. They will spend more time in the Groups with less people – more insular people. It will be like going to the same bar all the time. Or eating at the same restaurant. Or reading the same author. Again, very human traits — but traits blown up by social networking.
Facebook Groups will remove some of the serendipity built in to the application. Like antibiotics, Groups will be a good near term salve but if overused will begin to erode the beauty of the network. My advice, don’t turn it on. Peace!