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|Written by Terrah Smith|
|Thursday, 31 January 2008 19:00|
If you have been living under a rock, you most likely have never heard of Facebook. But considering that even older family members of mine have accounts, chances are, you are all too familiar with the popular social networking site. Love it or hate it, Facebook is a cultural phenomenon of our time that deserves recognition for its innovative transformation of our social lives.
Now it can’t tell you the numerical rate for converting celsius into fahrenheit, nor is it good for finding the proper method of flambéing fish. But if you want to know everyone else’s business and have them stay updated on your life, it’s the perfect tool. Using Facebook to be more aware of the lives of those in your inner circle is convenient, not wrong. I should wish Kate a happy birthday when I run into her. It doesn’t make me a bad person (albeit a forgetful one) for only remembering because I was checking my messages that morning. No, what would be a social faux pas is if I completely forgot.
Obviously it’s far from healthy to base your life on the virtual relationships Facebook creates. I don’t recommend that you only socialize with Todd when you post on his wall. Trust me, getting sent a virtual kiss is far less fun than real lip locking. But if you are fearful that asking him out in person will make you so nervous that your palms will drip sweat and you throw up a little, by all means, send the boy a message instead. No sense looking like you’re psychotic from the beginning- let him get to know you first.
If anything, the popularity of Facebook shows how important social circles are to our lives. It’s more than a self-promoting venture or a means to creep attractive people. Everyone is so busy dealing with their own issues that it can be difficult to stay in touch. Yes, I see your argument coming. If we didn’t waste so much time on Facebook in the first place, we could afford to remain close with everyone. It’s just not true. Different schedules, time zones, commitments, etc. make it impossible to spend as much time as you would like with the people you care about. Facebook is the next best thing (a telephone is a good investment, too).
This is all sugary sweet, but admittedly Facebook presents a few dangers, too. Aside from getting addicted, which you most likely will, the possibility of anyone being able to interact with you is scary. You wouldn’t talk to the creepy man on the bus whose eyes are glued on you, but you’d let him look at photos of you with your family and friends, read your personal messages, and write down your home address? I think not. Without maintaining a strict level of security, it is possible for anyone to view your page. You must be responsible when you use Facebook. Even if you want to collect more “friends” than your rival, don’t add just anyone. If you can read their personal message and in between the lines it says “Hey, we don’t know each other, but you look cute. I’m 25 and have been looking to meet a nice 16 year-old like yourself,” then steer clear! Certainly don’t include private contact information on your profile, unless you’re welcome to the idea of strange people knowing where you live. Good riddance if you are.
Another concern to keep in mind is how your reputation is maintained. Prospective employers have been known to search the Facebook profiles of potential employees to get an impression of their true personalities. Maybe mom and dad would be better off not viewing the photo album that chronicles last weekend’s drunken binge at the cottage. Again, you have the power to choose how you represent yourself, so be responsible.
With all it’s annoying features (here’s a short list: stupid applications, fake friendships, other people tagging unflattering pictures of you, routinely having to check messages, slang abbreviations), Facebook still has charm to it. Like that ratty old stuffed animal you keep in your bedroom, it has its downsides, but you wouldn’t want to be without it. Take it for what it is and laugh at it for what it never will be.