I have serious issues talking about Facebook, for the simple reason that its metacriticism makes me feel like my grandmother (oh, technology these days!). Then again, I recall this super tech-savvy conversation about servers that an older couple had in a doc’s waiting room earlier this week. So I am shutting up.
But yes. Facebook. That thing looming over our breaks in unavoidable acceptance of our need to feel somewhat connected — to believe that our social lives go on once we leave our snow-covered ivory towers. Or something.
The list of things about Facebook I can kvetch about is endless. And since break is boring for all of us, why not metacriticize our leisure, right?
1. I used to love writing on my blog. I think I stopped blogging when I started taking Facebook a little more seriously. It’s not that one is necessarily better than the other, but one is faster and more far-reaching than the other. And it’s sad, because I think F.B. notes are shorter than what my posts were ... and now, with Twitter, even status updates are getting shorter still. Are we somewhat encouraging our ADD with all this? Maybe?
2. God. Damn. Facebook. Updates. Every few months or so, we need to relearn how to navigate through the page. Why does it not stop doing that? It is a terribly frustrating thing. And then come the groups that tell you how to keep the previous layout ... though that doesn’t seem to happen anymore.
3. According to a study from AIS Media, 27 percent of people use Facebook in the bathroom (or so says a friend’s status update). Aren’t we becoming a little too obsessed with this thing? And the worst thing is, we don’t exactly stop once school starts. I just spent about 20 minutes reading my newsfeed and articles from said newsfeed instead of writing this column (and believe me, this is pushing it!). Addictive? Probably. More like, definitely, maybe. It may be the simpler, faster way of people-watching that we did when we hung out at the mall as teenagers. It may even be better than that — more information is available, and you can actually say something and it will be fine. Which brings me to …
4. Walls. They are so not private. There are friends that tell each other how much they love each other on their walls. Ugh. True, there’s something about non-privacy and … loudness: People are loud, they want to be heard. There’s some exhibitionism in there too. It’s amusing to see whole drama stories unfurl on my newsfeed. Sadly enough, though, by the time I get to my friends, I know what happened so well that there’s no point in talking about it anymore.
5. And there’s something even worse in that department: Facebook Officiality. F.O. is … it’s just wrong. People getting engaged, starting a relationship or breaking up is something that happens all the time. And it makes sense to have your friends know. But it’s sometimes ridiculous. More people find out than you’d like (come on, you do not speak to the 600 Facebook friends you have, do you?). Or you find out about it because you read it on your newsfeed, not because you’re actually close to these people. Isn’t that weird?
6. 75 percent of Japanese people don’t even know Facebook exists. … Really? Seriously? Japan? No Facebook? Maybe they are smarter than us. Identity is something that is a lot more masked in the popular sites over there than whatever Facebook does to protect our identities.
7. Which is not difficult to do, at all. Facebook cares zero about that. Have you noticed how your posts can be seen by people that do not know you? Friends of friends can see it, see your profile, see everything about you that you post there. You can enter other people’s photographs with relative ease. At least strangers can’t leave comments on your photos anymore.
8. What’s up with this privacy thing anyway? We read our information is not being used or sold or anything ... when it totally is. The ads on the right columns are terribly tailored to you depending on how much info your profile has. A friend even told me that, about two years ago, a Facebook prompt would be sent to you if you didn’t specify your gender. And you’re on Google searches if you have a Facebook profile, pictures and all (unless you take the time to change this. But I know relatively few people in the U.S. that do). Seriously, your info is out there.
9. And what is happening through Facebook is similar to that which happened with cell phones, in a way: We are creating a new social code in which lack of a profile will somewhat restrict you from further and successful social interactions. I live off getting invited to events on Facebook, more so than I do via my phone. People without Facebook can spend months without knowing about me (and don’t give me that look. You know you do it too sometimes). We are creating a permissive, implicit rulebook by which people can read about our lives as if we did things that are always worth reading about (and that is so NOT the case if you’re telling me you just went to the bathroom five minutes ago. Come on.).
10. Which sucks, because one of the consequences of updating the status of our lives is the also implicit fact that we need to disclose more information about ourselves in order to make us more likeable/socially accepted. As if we shopped around for people that shared our interests through this information, as if we were browsing dating sites or window shopping. Are we giving out too much?
But classes start after a wonderfully wild last-weekend-of-break-weekend. So it’s fine. At least we’ll now be procrastinating for a reason.
Florencia Ulloa is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Innocent Bystander appears alternate Fridays this semester.