From Face-to-Face to Facebook-to-Facebook

It is undeniable that we live in the most exciting of eras when it comes to technology advancements – whether it be the multitude of gadgets coming in waves or the numerous apps sprouting up left and right.

We are simultaneously the most time-efficient and time-wasteful generation the Earth has ever witnessed – proven by our ability to scroll down Facebook timelines for hours and our want to take as short a time as possible to pay bills, find jobs or chat with our loved ones overseas. I find it interesting how our relationship with the world has drastically changed even in the way we interact with one another at work, at social gatherings, on public transportation and the like. These tools that were initially conceived to improve communications now seem to have replaced our social interactions as a whole – and it is as though we are unconscious of it.

I am not saying that we are mindless – not at all! It simply feels as though we are so engulfed in our cyber world connections that we have forgotten to connect with the physical world we exist in. Maybe taking hikes, walks and hosting ‘no cell phone’ parties might be a solution? I digress. These various platforms that keep popping up designed to facilitate networking and connect with people that we sometimes haven’t even met in person are almost taking over our reality.

How funny it is that we now know more about the lives of people we have never met to the point where we feel as though we have known them our entire lives or that we are even close to them. Isn’t it amazing how we sometimes find ourselves meeting people for the first time in person and have the strangest feeling of having met them before?

It is funny to me that this feeling has now completely changed from what it was because it isn’t a sort of déjà-­vu, but it actually is one. I say this because it is becoming more apparent to me that we might have seen them in pictures with our close connections on social media without necessarily paying attention to them, but our brain would have registered their faces and would retrieve the datum when we encounter them.

In a way, we are creating more connections and making the world smaller, as a friend had put it, which is wonderful! I cannot even imagine how my great-grandmother’s social life would have been had she lived as a young Ethiopian woman in this era. At the same time, as surreal as it is, it is also pretty alarming how anyone could have access to any of the information on cyberspace – without even raising hacking or purchased data form the companies themselves.

This whole technology scare crossed my mind this past weekend, as we were in the car driving towards a gathering and a photographer friend, who was trying to load a picture on one of the social media platforms, pointed out that the facial recognition on Facebook is now very accurate. This is true and I too had noticed it. But until it was pointed out, it hadn’t really struck me as being that important. In the way that it was said though and in that moment, the gravity of the app’s capacity dawned on me. How scary is it that an app on a device as simple as a phone now has the ability to differentiate one face from another in a picture? How much more information is linked to the simple name that pops up as soon as the recognition is done? Is where we work, where we live, the sites we visit, where we hang out and so much more about what we consider to be private information shared amongst only friends, connections, friends of friends or the entire world? The questions in my mind have now changed to how public our lives are and no longer how private they are and where the line is drawn between our private and public lives.

By Christine Yohannes
Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled “Poetic Saturdays” - a platform created to allow everyone the freedom of self-expression through Art. She can be contacted at

Published on Aug 02,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 848]



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