Friend, block, poke, tag, feed, status, ‘The Wall.’ Each are words that individually have no connection with each other. But put them all together, one thing comes to mind: Facebook.
What started as a simple social networking website for Harvard students to communicate has turned into a world-wide phenomena that has consumed not just the youth of our time but anyone ranging from your grandma to elementary-aged students. Facebook is not the first social network site to become a fad but it has outlasted the temporary status that other sites such as AOL Instant Messenger, Myspace and Xanga, among many others, have failed to overcome. What is it about Facebook that has driven our society mad with obsession, addiction and thousands of mindless games?
To explore the social network phenomenon that has become so prevalent during the last five years, the Worldview Forum Council will host a panel discussion entitled “There’s an App for That: the Impact of Social Media on Relationships” on Monday, Sept. 26 at the Johnson Center. The Worldview Forum highlights an issue that hits close to home for many students.
Sophomore Victoria Pavlantos, a self-proclaimed Facebook addict, shares that Facebook is her main source of entertainment. She embraces the site for games, social connections and distractions, among other things.
“It’s like reading a newspaper every day, but it’s only about your friends,” Pavlantos said.
According to Pavlantos, relationships can be developed on Facebook that wouldn’t have been otherwise due to lack of proximity or daily communication.
“[Becoming Facebook friends is] an informal way of saying ‘I’m interested in you,’” Pavlantos said.
Pavlantos also shares that Facebook has become a new beneficial tool in making future connections and networking with others for future employment opportunities. Pavlantos isn’t wrong. Every day more and more companies and business networks are turning to Facebook to get ahead in the workforce.
Senior nursing major Michelle Scalley has been a Facebook user for over five years and has no plans of changing that.
“I love first and foremost being able to connect with people who I don’t see on a regular basis, especially during the summer,” Scalley said.
However, one of Scalley’s friends has taken the initiative in decreasing the amount of time Scalley spends on Facebook. According to Scalley, senior zoo biology major Abigail Clifford changed her password and has to log Scalley in each time she wants to use Facebook.
Clifford was prompted to change the password after she and Scalley were trying to do homework and Facebook was serving as a distraction to Scalley.
Despite that, Scalley still sees Facebook as a useful connection tool, though she understands the distraction to face-to-face communication it creates.
Yet not everyone is a fan of Facebook. Junior middle education major Matt McConnell has never felt that he needed a Facebook to keep in touch with others. According to McConnell, he prefers face-to-face communication better for developing relationships.
“People get so caught up in what Facebook has to offer that it’s a life-sucker,” McConnell said.
He also shares that Facebook has created a new and different dynamic that didn’t exist ten years ago where people actively seek relationships on Facebook and prefer communicating with others through the Internet rather than in person.
Another non-Facebook user, junior Sara Gingerich shares that at first she wasn’t against the social network site, but after witnessing friends get so attached to it, she compares it almost to a drug.
“I don’t want to get too attached to where I waste so much time on it,” Gingerich said.
In a society where a majority of communication happens over Facebook, Gingerich does feel that sometimes she can be left out of the loop with what is going on.
Facebook isn’t fading out anytime soon and neither are its users. But is there a point where one may need to ask if the benefits outweigh the costs, or the other way around?