It’s safe to say that Facebook has changed the way the world communicates. Whether you’re rich, middle class, popular or unpopular, the one common denominator that brings us together is that we’re all on Facebook.
I joined Facebook in the fall of 2005; which would’ve been during my third year of college. Back then, it was designed solely for college students. Pretty soon, the site was open to everyone.
The initial goal of Facebook was, and is, to connect people worldwide. I used to think it was so cool to reconnect with people that I hadn’t seen in years and over time it became the most reliable means of communication with my friends. If I needed to touch base with someone about a particular matter then I would just hit them up on Facebook. Today, I contact more people via Facebook than I do by telephone or e-mail. It’s amazing how quick it took for everyone to catch on. Anyone of any significance in the music, sports and entertainment industry has a Facebook account. Employers even use it to screen potential employees and every major politician uses it to spread their political agenda.
There is no question that Facebook has done alot of good in the world. On the other hand, it could be argued that it has made our culture more self-absorbed than ever.
This past summer, Sarah B. Weir, a blogger for Yahoo!, posted the excellent article, “10 Things You Don’t Know About Teens and Social Networking.” She interviewed several teens in order to learn about their experiences. Here is what she discovered:
There’s more ‘life’ happening online than offline. If you are not online, you are completely out of the loop–you don’t have a life, you don’t really exist.”
–Hannah, 13 years old
“I’m online even during class. I’m supposed to be taking notes but instead I’m commenting on stuff and uploading pictures.”
–Emma, 14 years old
“I feel safer online than I do offline. So I do things online that I wouldn’t do in real life.”
–Sadie, 14 years old
“I’ve become very good at taking pictures of myself. I know what angle is best, I know how to part my lips…you know. It’s like the number one thing on my mind is ‘I need to get home right now and take a new profile picture.’ All because I want someone to comment on how I look.”
–Katie, 15 years old
“Social networking affects all the things you do in real life now. Like, if you go to a party, one of the most important aspects of going to the party is to document yourself for online posts. You have to prove you were looking good, you were having fun, and that you were actually there! It’s not about the party anymore but about the pictures of the party.”
–Caroline, 14 years old
“I feel sad, depressed, jealous, or whatever when I don’t get a lot of “Likes” on my photo or when someone else gets way more Likes than me. Honestly, I’m not sure that parents realize how drastically it affects our self-image and confidence. If I see a picture of a really pretty girl, it’s like ‘Goodbye self-esteem.’ It forces me to compete and do stuff that I don’t want to do, so my confidence will get a boost.”
–Samantha, 14 years old
“Sometimes I feel like I’m losing control. I want my parents to tell me to get off the computer. Actually, they would need to literally take the computer away because I can’t stop myself.”
–Nina, 15 years old
“My friendships are really affected by social networking. You have to constantly validate your friends online. And everyone’s like ‘Where were you?’ ‘What have you been doing?’ ‘Why haven’t you commented on my picture yet?’ So you have to be online all the time, just to keep track, so you don’t upset anyone.”
–Jasmine, 13 years old
“There is so much pressure to look happy all the time-you can never just be yourself– because everybody is always taking pictures and posting them.”
–Nikki, 13 years old
“I really want my mom to be proud of me. Obviously, I want her to think I’m writing my essay or doing things I should be doing instead of being on Facebook. But I also want to be online. So I lie or accuse her of not trusting me. It’s awful, but I’ve become really comfortable with lying.”
–Maya, 14 years old
Wow. Sounds pretty intense. The saddest part is that many people in my age bracket and older have expereinced those same feelings at one time or another during our journey with Facebook. I’ve been guilty as well!
Over the past few years I’ve joked that no one really attends any event just for the sake of being there. Whether you go to a party, an NFL game, or any other major event, the only thing that matters is if you brought your camera or not. It seems as if people are more concerned with taking as many pictures as possible just to rush home and upload them to their Facebook page and show off to their friends (of which I’m guilty of). The same goes for status updates as well. I often see many people I know post needlessly “deep” updates, knowing full well they don’t even think or act that way in real life. On the flipside, you have those writing any and everything that pops into their head, regardless of how foolish it may sound.
Now there is nothing wrong with taking pictures. I love to take pictures. However, I’m not staring into my bathroom mirror taking a hundred pictures of myself with my shirt off. For one, I do not have that type of impressive physique, and two, I just think it would be a waste of energy to sit around taking numerous pictures of myself! Lol. Most of my status updates revolve around pro wrestling or positive thinking. Since I’m a wrestling fan (check the subtitle of this blog) and a very optimistic person, I’d say that I’m defintely portraying my true self on Facebook.
Sometimes I feel as though Facebook has changed the way we think about ourselves. Does the constant self-promotion help us stay connected? Or, is it simply a tool to make us all more narcissistic and self-centered?