Facebook, the second leading internet social interaction network, is currently launching a new feature. The website, which reportedly trails Myspace in user popularity, is now offering its users an instant messaging feature. This feature is already offered by Myspace; and other companies, like AOL and Google. America Online's instant messenger, AIM, is currently the industry leader. Facebook hopes to solidify its position among the IM giants, with its newly introduced Facebook Chat.
With so many online networks providing "virtual friendships," is face-to-face social interaction becoming passe? While these tools of communication offer people easy access to each other, these IM interfaces may also become the catalyst for a "social dumbing down." Important parts of a conversation are lost when it comes to this type of online communication. Words aren't as emotionally impactful when voice inflection and body language is subtracted. For future generations who are born into a world where E-mail, IM, and text messages are the standard of social outreach, the effects could be dulled intuition and a lack of command for even basic verbiage.
I personally love technology, and new gadgets. However, I think that new technological devices: should be secondary to human interaction, shouldn't dull the senses, and should be a tool- not an all-encompassing distraction.
If Henry David Thoreau was correct in stating, "Lo! Men have become the tools of their tools!"; then, we only have to watch The Matrix and The Terminator trilogies to get a glimpse of our future. We've been forewarned- dependency on machines can not lead to a good outcome.