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Articles > May, 05, 2009

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Generation Y. Us! A generation of technological information absorbing, time wasting zombies infatuated with texting, instant messaging, blogging, social networking, and oh yes, the latest craze…facebooking! With 100 million users worldwide, according to the devil itself, it is undeniable that Facebook has begun a new era of social networking. But not all of us are as infatuated and taken with Facebook as the statistics imply.

Don’t get me wrong, I often use forums for advice on technical problems and I am certainly no stranger to MSN or creating websites, but Facebook, I avoid like the plague. Am I unsociable? No! Trying to be different? Definitely not! Obsessed with security issues? No. So what does really prevent me from creating a profile and gaining hundreds of ‘cyber-friends?’

To start with, I fear being haunted by acquaintances long forgotten, able to track me online, and the thought of having countless cyber friends each of whom I would barely know exist until a rather random poke or sheep was sent my way. The other week, I googled my name and found a blog from an old friend who wanted to know if I could be found ‘floating around the Internet’ and it really confirmed my theory about what I would become on Facebook; someone who ‘floats’ around online, becoming another near meaningless friend on a ‘friend’ list, no longer a contactable individual or to be blunt, a physical human being. Who would bother to phone for a chat to see what I am up to if my profile says it all? I want to hear my friends’ latest news from them, not their profile.

My next fear is probably my main anxiety – I fear the possible addiction, paranoia and inevitable obsession with other people’s profiles. With every addiction comes denial; the point when “researching” or taking a “short break” becomes an excuse for another visit to Facebook for the umpteenth time that day, in the hope that someone had in the last hour updated a picture or suddenly has a thing going with the guy met last night. I never want to fear going near the Internet with the worry that I can’t restrain myself from looking on Facebook for the latest gossip and news of other people’s lives. Facebook is a drug which I do not want unleashed.

Time considerations are also an issue in two respects. Firstly, how much time would I spend transfixed on Facebook which could be spent studying, socializing and basically having a life? Not yet convinced? Look in the newspapers for stories and shocking statistics about the productive time wasted by employees at work. Look in your university library to see how many students at any one time are drawn to Facebook, and then you will understand the issue of time wasting. The other time consideration is that via Facebook, we are subconsciously not making time to actually see people. Yes, I understand we all lead very busy lives and time does certainly not get any slower, so checking a profile saves an awful lot of time than actually having to phone or meet up with someone. But we must make time!

Do I miss out? Of course – everything has its drawbacks. Not only do I endure endless moans from friends’ concern about my non-existent Facebook profile, and one very disappointed friend who thought she had added me as a friend, (but in fact added some poor person with the same name), but I also miss out on invitations to events. However, despite this, I strongly believe that avoiding Facebook and thus relieving myself of being succumbed to temptation, obsession and paranoia is worth missing a few socials.

Ok, so maybe this article comes 10 years too early and my fears about friends no longer orally communicating with each other is way OTT. But I do warn facebookers out there to be vigilant against becoming too transfixed and obsessed with Facebook and forgetting their nearest and dearest friends in favour of too many cyber acquaintances. Remember, Facebook is only four years old, it has yet to mature.

It’s up to us how far we let the Facebook phenomenon go.

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  1. Georgina Price

    I agree with almost all of this article, I deactivated my Facebook account for almost a year out of protest and had to face my friends complaints about that decision. I have now been convinced to reactivate it so that I can be informed of events (society events and reminders about assignments and tests for my course, plus the occasional party/night out) but I never go on it to see what people are doing/play games/update my status, which annoys people. However I do use twitter (but mostly for celebrity stalking). To conclude, it has its uses, but the world is better off without it, stick to emails, texts and phone calls.

  2. J

    My comment appears to have been deleted? Please do update me as to why? I personally love Facebook. I have recently been able to find information about someone, even their current boyfriend. It is a great tool for keeping in close touch don’t you think.

  3. B

    If you don’t live in your life in a way you are proud of then perhaps it would be better not to live your life online. unfortunately people these days grow up online and the mistakes they make will stay to haunt them forever. Future relationships can be put in danger by things we did in the past if the online trail is there but in the past people wrote letters in times of distress or love and these were often discovered and could do just as much harm. It is certainly much harder to forget and lose your past these days. If we have grown up online let us hope others can forgive the mistakes we have made in life.

  4. J

    A friend recently tracked down her husbands x lover on Facebook. This girl, nineteen years younger than her husband had caused no end of pain to the family she had nearly destroyed. to see the saintly image she portrayed online compared to her real life behaviour was astounding. Church going, opinions about things that in real life she certainly didn’t live by made the lady at first weep for weeks. Comments on how society was breaking down due to the collapse of the family while she was sleeping with someone she knew to be married did astound the wife. Thank god for Facebook etc however as after some time the friend took comfort from the fact that she at least was so unlike the young self obsessed selfish hypocrit. Our online lives may indeed empower the most unexpected of people, let us hope it may also shine a mirror on our own failings so we can all be better for it, not zombies as you suggest.

  5. Zahra Abu-Abdo

    I wish I’d never gotten facebook
    Realising that your entire life is practically is an open book for anyone to read is fairly unsettling ><
    I personally have no problem with being found by old friends- but I realise that 5minutes on their page and there is suddenly nothing more to talk about because you've essentially "caught up" on all you'd missed.

  6. Selam

    I totally agree with this article, facebook does infact zombify people. Ever since I deleted my facebook account 5 months ago, i somewhat feel a lot more intelligent. I can actually have a decent conversation with people without having the need to tell them about the new ‘status by that person’. Life generally feels a lot brighter.

    Bare in mind, the first few days of having it deleted just made me feel utterly anxious to knowing what people were up to. The next couple of weeks seemed a little bit better. But now, 5 months past…I barely even remember it. Whoever was truly a friend…..Hello emails.

  7. Dsf

    Brilliant, brilliant article. You’ve written what I have been thinking.

  8. O'Rume Ena

    Yay for someone who receives the samme reaction I do for not being on facebook. Nick’s stereotypical comment is laughable.”Grew up on a farm”… Well, Thank you, I’m not yet ready to be stalked by friends of the past because of facebook. Life goes on.

  9. Simi

    I also agree. Undoubtably, most people who have facebook accounts are addicted – and i also admit that if i had my own, i would also become a zombie, so i steer clear of it. A facebook free life for me thanks!

  10. Gabby

    Well written, I must say! At least it applies to those of us who don’t want to ‘float’ around online. The desciptions you have enclosed in your article, I can fully identify with as the characteristics most, (note i say MOST) facebookers have adopted these days.

  11. Laura

    As suprising as it may seem, I do actually see the positives of Facebook (I have just started up a facebook group for a project!), but I can also see how different young people are with each other when face to face and not behind a screen. For example, how many people stare at the floor when walking past in the street because they don’t know how to be? How do you make a friend feel like a good friend instead of a number when they are just grouped with all other cyber-friends? Why does everything including friends have to turn cyber?

  12. Nick Blurton

    You sound like you grew up on a farm

  13. Emma

    You make alot of assumptions here…you use facebook for what you want, and for most of us, that IS staying in contact with the friends we want to, and being able to ignore the ones we dont 😛 you dont have to add someone if you 1.) dont want to talk to them and 2.) dont want them to be stalking you 🙂 When you go to uni this is one of the best ways (and a lot cheaper than texting or phoning) your mates at unis ALL round the country!!!