Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hey, Will You Facebook Me?

I finally saw The Social Network this past weekend, on Netflix. I thought the movie was very well done, especially how it flashed back and forth between the past and the present.  I do not think it was worthy of Best Movie (The Academy apparently agreed with me) but it was an entertaining movie nonetheless. But I am not going to write a movie review today. I want to talk about Facebook itself.

I remember when Facebook first came to my university in the fall 2004.  The semester started and I began to hear little rumblings that this was the new "It" thing on campus. I thought, "What a silly website, this will just be a fad." I seriously questioned why people would want to document their every waking moment in detail, on the Internet, for all to see.  If people are friends, shouldn't they know what is going on and not need to read about it online? I didn't think people would care what Susie Q thought about her Econ class or that John was going to see a basketball game at Assembly Hall. (Mind you this was before we used the Internet for anything other than email, AIM, or researching and definitely before Twitter.)  I was told about the awesomeness of 'stalking' but I thought that was creepy. The four months that I protested felt like years, but eventually I caved because I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.  To me, putting pictures and personal information online seemed dangerous (and still does) so I was very reserved when I first signed up with my .edu account.

Through Facebook, we find out that “friends” are getting married, having a baby, that they like the latest pop song, or are moving away on our Newsfeed. I think the whole concept of a 10-year high school reunion has changed now that we have constant updates on the Internet, 24/7. Gone are the days of getting reacquainted at the reunion with people you haven't heard from in years, or being shocked that Lindsay married the guy in your English class, or even that Andrew finally accepted his sexuality. In some circles, a relationship is only "official" if it is on Facebook. We know about people’s lives without even talking to them! 

Jobs and College admissions We've all heard that employers use it as a tool before they hire/fire you. I know of someone who didn’t get the job in radio sales because he didn't have an online presence.  Even some colleges are using the website to recruit students. One Harvard recruiter said, "But when you’re looking at a tie between equally talented students, social media content could be the tiebreaker."  Jobs are one thing, but college admissions? Getting into college is hard enough; I do not think Facebook should be a tiebreaker. Kids worry about things like SAT or ACT scores, GPA’s, and whether or not they did enough extra-curricular activities.  Now students have Facebook to worry about, too? This article goes into more detail about this, so be sure to check it out. Facebook Profiles Are Now Part Of 80% Colleges’ Admissions Outreach

Facebook stripped us of privacy. It started when the creators made it open to the public and not just .edu accounts. They added a phonebook with our personal cell phone numbers, and then they sold our information to 3rd party vendors.  I disabled those features real fast. Facebook is open to everyone and anyone, so that means just about anyone can see your phone number?  This is a breach of privacy and violates our sense of security.  I should be able to control who has my phone number, not Facebook.  We, as a society, don't really think much about privacy until ours is personally violated. We are a generation of “it won’t happen to me” attitudes.

Photos - I honestly do not remember if photo albums were on the website when I first signed up, but I do know that I finally posted my first album in November 2005, nearly a year later.  The pictures we put up become property of Facebook. And even if we delete them, I heard Facebook still has the rights to the photos, or at least they used to. Speaking of photos, not everything needs to be uploaded. Yes, birth is a miracle and a beautiful thing. That being said, I think it’s okay to post pictures of your newborn but wait until it is cleaned off, wrapped up, and has bonded with mom, before you post the picture.  Mother-baby bonding is more important than uploading a photo to Facebook.  For more on Facebook etiquette be sure to read Linda's excellent post How not to be an asshole on Facebook.

Facebook's impact. Facebook paved the way for other inventions like Twitter, Foursquare and Farmville, just to name a few. It has changed the employer and employee relationship. It helped form the rebellion in Egypt, one person even named his kid Facebook!  It helps reconnect long lost friendships.  It is ironic because while Facebook helps some people “keep in touch”, we are not social beings anymore. We sit behind the computer and stalk, tweet or search. Have you been on a city bus lately? Everyone is looking down at his or her phones, iPods or Kindles. Our interpersonal, social, and communication skills are hurting.

If there is ever a time to admit I was wrong, this would be it. I was wrong, people! I could never have imagined, even in my wildest dreams, the impact that Facebook would have on society, technology advancements and even on how we communicate, or lack thereof.  Today, Facebook is even on dictionary.com. As you are well aware, common phrases like “Facebook me”, or “OMG, he friended (or de-friended) me!” are all part of our daily vocabulary. 

Can you remember life without Facebook? What was your initial reaction to it? Have you ever been frustrated and considered de-activating your account? What are your thoughts on this? Please share!

I thought it would be fun to share the first message I ever sent.   It was sent to a high school friend at another university.

Caryn Levy November 8, 2004 at 6:10pm
Hey! So people here have been nutty about this all semester, and I was like no way! But I gave in, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about! How r you?! I miss you! xoxo

Love, Caryn


Bill said...

Great post Caryn. I would not have had the opportunity to read this without FACEBOOK! Very insightful on many levels

Laurie said...

At this point, it's difficult to imagine what life would be like without Facebook. I recall where I was and who I was with when I first signed up for Facebook. I was skeptical but interested, hesitant and careful. But the truth of the matter is, the way we communicate, live our daily lives and do business have all changed as a result of social media--Facebook included. Sure there are times when I have reevaluated the things I say, the pictures I post or the information I share, but ultimately it boils down to self-censorship, discretion and thoughtfulness. Great points, Caryn.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog. Is there any way you could get people (including yourself) to post more of your original facebook messages? It's so funny to look back and read what our thoughts were so long ago. It's like a diary to the past! Keep blogging every thought that pops into your head and please keep the posts coming early and often!


linda said...

I can never go back to life without Facebook. I truly cannot. that idle moment between meetings you can spend sending a quick note to someone you'll most surely forget to call to catch up normally really increases points of contact. And though usually the quality of these connections are not as high as say coffee in person or long phone date, over time they build a rapport or a stable connection that helps nurture the longevity of some relationships. Let's face it. With school, work, families, etc sometimes life gets too hectic to give a nod of appreciation helps and facebook assuage that problem.

Great post.

Thanks for the link love!

Post a Comment

Share this!