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December 27, 2008 in education, entertainment, love and relationships, society | Tags: aim, aol, big brother, blog, blogging, caution, computer, creepy, dating, facebook, facebook culture, friends, ivy league, love, myspace, online dating, penn masala, poke, relationships, school, social networking, stalker, wall, wall post | 1 comment
I’ve wanted to write this one for a while, considering how I’m the self-proclaimed Facebook addict.
I started using Facebook back when Facebook was open only to the Ivy League universities, and maybe a few more outside of that (this was maybe around May 2004). I wasn’t really into the whole MySpace scene, and this seemed like a clean-cut version of MySpace. It also was a more organized version of Cornell’s attempt at uniting our incoming class of 2008. Back then, Facebook was relatively simple. You had a profile, a friend’s list, inbox, and the poking feature. Beyond that, there wasn’t really a whole lot.
Oh how times have changed.
Now Facebook is no longer restricted to university students, or even just to students. Everyone is on Facebook. Yes your little brother, your neighbor from down the road, perhaps even your parents–they all have profiles. Facebook has grown and morphed into this social-networking juggernaut that keeps changing to meet the demands of the public. There are very few people nowadays who don’t know what Facebook is.
Facebook has become its own cultural phenomenon. It comes with its own set of social norms. You don’t believe me? There is a whole set of connotations that can be associated with, say, a poke. If a girl pokes a guy, or a guy pokes a girl, it can be viewed as flirtatious. If friends poke each other, it’s more a sign that they’re both silly and very bored. A person you don’t know who pokes you is viewed as creepy. I can probably create a hundred other scenarios that center on a poke. The same goes for messages, wall posts, and other modes of communicating that Facebook provides.
You can probably categorize people into a host of loose categories based on their Facebook habits. There are those who friend everyone, accept all friend requests, join every group, and add every application. They are probably better off on MySpace. Then there are those who do…nothing. They are probably better off not creating a profile to begin with. Then there are those who fall somewhere along that spectrum. There are those who probably have lives and occasionally update their Facebook profile, and don’t necessarily seek out new friendships, but keep the ones they have alive through Facebook. Then there are those (like me) who tend to go on Facebook often more to utilize it for a specific purpose (like plugging my blog and keeping in touch with friends). The possibilities are endless.
Facebook has even begun to serve as a method for finding potential dates, and that too, comes with its own set of unspoken rules. It’s no surprise that it is being used that way. One’s profile has (usually) all the information a person needs to learn about another person enough to decide whether or not it’s worth getting to know them better. Yet sometimes, actually opening the channel of communication through Facebook whether through a message, poke, friend request, or other method can be viewed very differently between different people. I tend to overextend my definition of creepy to cover a whole set of possible actions on Facebook, but that’s also because I’m very cautious by nature. These include the compliments about photos, pokes, and random friend requests. I have only now begun to realize that sometimes, it’s not so much that people are creepy, and it could be explained by the fact that they are perhaps shy. Sometimes you have to give people the benefit of the doubt, but in the context of the Internet, sometimes it is better to exercise caution. Many do actually turn out to be very creepy.
Now that Facebook is open to everyone, there are legitimate concerns about privacy. Parents are using this as a means of keeping tabs on their children, while employers and graduate schools are using it as a means of investigating their applicants’ private lives (with special attention to partying, drinking, and drug use). Facebook has become the new Big Brother, in that regard. It’s legitimate that it would be used in that sense, it is a useful tool that way. Obviously the first thing to do is either a) stop drinking to the point of stupidity b) stop underage drinking and c) stop drug use, but really that’s just wishful thinking. So I guess the best thing to do is don’t put up pictures that portray you in an unfavorable light. While sure, you may have had fun at that frat party, house party, or bar, you don’t necessarily want that to ruin your chances at a great future or ruin your parents’ trust. I can understand employers using Facebook to assess applicants, but seriously, parents shouldn’t be so eager to make a profile to spy on their children. For the most part, we know what we’re doing, and sometimes we may stumble…but we can pick ourselves up. Just have a little faith.
Facebook has become a tool for reporters, celebrities, and musicians to gain fans and keep them up to date on various happenings. I can be informed when Nicholas Kristof writes a new column or blog post, or when the date for the start of a new season of Monk, Heroes, or House is announced. I think its fair to say that Facebook is slowly supplanting MySpace as the social networking site of choice, for both regular Joes and celebrities alike.
It seems that Facebook is probably here to stay, much like AIM, as a novel method of communication and networking. I’m curious to see how it will evolve to meet changing times and changing generations. Hopefully it will all be for the best.
I’m going to leave you with two videos relating to Facebook. The first is Penn Masala’s homage to Facebook, and is a parody of Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero.”
The second is a brilliant video that takes Facebook actions and looks at what would happen if we did those things in real life.