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.