Oh, Facebook. In this day and age you’d be hard-pressed to find a college student without one. Facebook has become an installation in the near seven years since its creation; it plays a focal role when we consider things like the Internet, distractions from homework, and, most importantly, social networking (which did, once, refer to something outside of the cyber universe). When bearing in mind the various ways Facebook has come to be an institution, a question inevitably arises: Is Facebook affecting us in a positive or negative way?
I’ll be upfront – I love Facebook a lot more than I don’t love it. It is, without question, the best way to know what’s going on in the world. It tells me who is hosting Scripps Tea this week, when there is going to be a show at the Motley. It was the first to let me know when my friend from high school joined a sorority and when my baby cousin was born on the other side of the country. Facebook is a wealth of information and most efficient way to stay in contact with family and friends.
The crucial role Facebook plays in spreading knowledge has come to make it the most reliable of getting your info. We depend more on technology than other people to know what’s up… isn’t there something off about that? I have many technology-propelling-the-downfall-of-mankind-as-we-know-it theories, but the point is that a social networking site is slowly replacing the notion of word of mouth. It’s just as effective, and plenty quicker, to spread knowledge of upcoming events, social developments and even milestones. This developing reliance on Facebook makes perfect sense within American culture – we like things fast and easy, there’s no denying that.
I also love Facebook for its less than beneficial potential – the guilty pleasure of Facebook lurking. If you are a frequent user and do not partake in any level of Facebook creeping, I simply do not believe you. There are too many fascinating bits of information out there – tagged photos to be mindlessly clicked through, favorite quotations to be read, wall posts to “stumble” upon.
However, with the entertainment of Facebook’s customizing and tagging abilities comes a brand-new, slightly more in-depth way to make judgments about people. I’m a believer that making surface-level judgments is an unavoidable bad habit of humans in general and Facebook profiles take this to a whole new level. Now you can develop a variety of preconceived notions about a person – based on their taste in music, choice of profile picture, wall posts by friends, frequency of status updates, etc. I’m not claiming everyone does this, but it’s another potential place to exercise this bad habit.
For example, I have a very intelligent friend who unfailingly types ‘your’ in situations that call for ‘you’re’ in our Facebook interactions… out of sheer laziness. If I didn’t know that she knew better than to make this grammar mistake (a personal pet peeve) in real life, it is possible I might make a few assumptions. Can we really help it? Better yet, do we even notice when we do it?
Frankly, Facebook is making a giant mess out of whatever we used to consider social interaction. It’s developing into something impersonal and voyeuristic, preoccupied greatly with speed and efficiency as opposed to true connection. I wasn’t cognizant of social interaction in a time before social networking websites existed, and I feel like I missed out. If Facebook has already become such a focal point of our culture and already changed the way we think of social interaction so dramatically… what’s it going to be like in another seven years?