In response to Smith’s blog regarding “The Social Network” and Generation Facebook, Smith argues, “That a lot of social networking software explicitly encourages people to make weak, superficial connections with each other (as Malcolm Gladwell has recently argued), and that this might not be an entirely positive thing, seem to never have occurred to him.”

Encouraging people to make weak, superficial connections with one another is emphasized by the “connection” that Mark Zuckerberg desires the members of Facebook to partake in. Friending someone on Facebook doesn’t make them your friend in real life, it creates a false connection that relies on “liking” someone’s status or browsing through the photos that so many of us lose time in. This so-called connection allows its members to wind up on a strangers cousins girlfriend’s page and giving us details about this stranger’s life that we have no reason to be reading or interest.

In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Zuckerberg said: “Well, what I think it’s doing is giving everyone a voice, right? So, back, you know, a few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinions efficiently to a lot of people. But now they do. Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.”

But how important are those voices to be heard? Hardly as a Facebook user do I see life changing status updates or opinions stated by the “friends” on my friend lists. Instead, I read pointless chatter and complaints, positive snid bits here and there, but never have I seen these voices dwell into something deep. As a result, these false friendships thrive on this pointless chatter, liking, commenting, etc. These relationships seldom turn into something tangible in real life and only temporarily fill the need for significance in our lives.

In the introduction of The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social-Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future (p. xvi-xvii), 22-year-old Erica describes Facebook:

“It’s a big part of our lives in this day and age,” she said candidly during a conversation outside a small cafe. “And if you’re not a part of that, then you’re missing a huge part of your friend’s lives also.” Erica elaborated. “It’s hard to relate to the people who you are friends with if they have this big force in their lives and you are not a part of it… it’s the impact that it has on real life.”

Erica is focusing on the connection that Zuckerberg is striving for in his online world. However these connections can thus lead to a familiarization with other cultures and people from them.

“A first component of an ethics for cross-cultural communication online is the obligation to become familiar with the cultures of the world, beginning with the cultures of those with whom one frequently communicates,” as described on p. 109 of Digital Media Ethics.

Connection not only means those close to us, but those far from us as well. “The Social Network” does a poor job representing Zukcerberg’s desire for connection when he says and blogs, “Erica Albright’s a bitch. You think that’s because her family changed their name from Albrecht or do you think it’s because all B.U. girls are bitches?”

Being a jerk online is going to limit the connection he craves and throughout the movie feels the consequences of his actions and backfires.

The connections we make online are not as deep or sincere as a personal interaction. Who we are becomes public to everyone’s friends, family and strangers, and we are limited to the level of privacy we want to maintain. If Zuckerberg wants connections, then why can’t we view his pictures, information and friends? After all, he is “trying to make the world a more open place.”