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to it. Just as your mother said: you get out only what you put in. If you use Facebook to communicatedirectly with other individuals—by using the “like” button, commenting on friends’ posts, and so on—it can increase your social capital. Personalized messages, or what Burke calls “composedcommunication,” are more satisfying than “one-click communication”—the lazy click of a like. “Peoplewho received composed communication became less lonely, while people who received one-clickcommunication experienced no change in loneliness,” Burke tells me. So, you should inform yourfriend in writing how charming her son looks with Harry Potter cake smeared all over his face, andhow interesting her sepia-toned photograph of that tree-framed bit of skyline is, and how cool it isthat she’s at whatever concert she happens to be at. That’s what we all want to hear. Even better thansending a private Facebook message is the semi-public conversation, the kind of back-and-forth inwhich you half ignore the other people who may be listening in. “People whose friends write to themsemi-publicly on Facebook experience decreases in loneliness,” Burke says.On the other hand, non-personalized use of Facebook—scanning your friends’ status updates andupdating the world on your own activities via your wall, or what Burke calls “passive consumption”and “broadcasting”—correlates to feelings of disconnectedness. It’s a lonely business, wandering thelabyrinths of our friends’ and pseudo-friends’ projected identities, trying to figure out what part ofourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear. According to Burke, passiveconsumption of Facebook also correlates to a marginal increase in depression. “If two women eachtalk to their friends the same amount of time, but one of them spends more time reading aboutfriends on Facebook as well, the one reading tends to grow slightly more depressed,” Burke says. Herconclusion suggests that my sometimes unhappy reactions to Facebook may be more universal than Ihad realized. When I scroll through page after page of my friends’ descriptions of how accidentallyeloquent their kids are, and how their husbands are endearingly bumbling, and how they’re all aboutto eat a home-cooked meal prepared with fresh local organic produce bought at the farmers’ marketand then go for a jog and maybe check in at the office because they’re so busy getting ready to hop ona plane for a week of luxury dogsledding in Lapland, I do grow slightly more miserable. A lot of otherpeople doing the same thing feel a little bit worse, too.Still, Burke’s research does not support the assertion that Facebook creates loneliness. The peoplewho experience loneliness on Facebook are lonely away from Facebook, too, she points out; onFacebook, as everywhere else, correlation is not causation. The popular kids are popular, and thelonely skulkers skulk alone. Perhaps it says something about me that I think Facebook is primarily a