In college, Facebook equates to the world.
When you meet someone, there is a requisite Facebook-stalking session to see what they're all about. When you're organizing a party or throwing an event, you better have that Facebook page with the details. When you find that (temporary) special someone, you damn well know you're updating your "Relationship Status" as soon as possible so EVERYONE knows what's up.
I was wary of Facebook then -- but now, as an "adult", I hate the damn thing.
There have been more threads than usual here on WSO as of late on the topics of quarter-life crises / depression / jadedness / disillusionment. The WSO demographic caters to folks who are generally better off, in many ways, than the Average Joe -- it's self-selected in a pretty special way. People who are successful, from upper-middle-class backgrounds, and have a high likelihood of "making it" in life shouldn't have these problems, right?
Enter Facebook, a tool that has revolutionized the way we communicate, but in a lot of ways has done more harm than good.
I would argue that, for many things, Facebook is a useful tool -- though not as useful as other technologies that are available to us.
1. As a news source, it's simply OK...clearly overshadowed by mobile apps like Zite and Facebook's more agile evil brother, Twitter.
2. As a means of communication, Facebook is only great for keeping up with acquaintances. For professional contacts, LinkedIn will suffice, and for close friends -- well, I hope you value your close friends enough to at least pick up the phone and call them instead of dropping a "hey omg i miss u lol" message on their Wall once a year.
3. As a tool for organizing/mobilizing/enacting social change, Facebook has some pros, but at the same time things seem to go viral far less quickly on Facebook than they do through hash-tags on Twitter. But I think Facebook is necessary in this instance, and probably a good tool for this -- though I'm not much of an organizer or activist, and neither are most folks on WSO. ;-)
On the other hand, there are also many things Facebook is INCREDIBLY successful at doing:
1. Wasting your time. How productive would you be if you didn't have the News Feed? How many hours per day are wasted refreshing for absolutely no reason?
2. Making you feel like you're doing something wrong. Everyone's life on Facebook is perfect: the perfect picture with the SO, the perfect vacation blog/note, the perfect profile picture, the perfect job titles, etc etc etc. Feel like you're not keeping up? Guess what -- you're not alone. Why do you think people spend so much time taking the "perfect" shot and refreshing the News Feed to see how many "Likes" they get?
3. Invading your privacy. Everything you put on Facebook becomes someone else's property. There are also countless stories of people losing jobs, getting into huge trouble, or creating situations of misunderstanding through Facebook. It can be used wisely, and somewhat safely, or it can be used recklessly and quite dangerously. There is no truly "safe" way to use the 'Book.
4. Making it so that one is odd if he/she does not have a Facebook. This one is pretty clear -- if you're in your twenties, or even just starting out college, people will find it very strange if you're 'Book-less. I know this sounds silly, but think back to the last time you met someone who didn't have a Facebook...now you see where I'm coming from?
The bottom line is that Facebook creates the perfect environment for a measuring contest. Everyone wants to have that vacation shot, that significant other picture, that job title, and everything in between. In some ways this is probably a good thing, though I would be cautious in saying that motivation coming from Facebook is healthy, but it's motivation nonetheless. In other ways, the News Feed is a constant reminder of things that you "should" be doing because other people are doing them, and in almost all cases, doing things just because other people are doing them will leave you feeling somewhat unfulfilled (best-case scenario) or in a "WTFI DOING WITH MY LIFE?" (worst-case scenario) crisis later on.
The time-sink aside, the gain I receive from Facebook in terms of communication probably doesn't offset the fact that it's incredibly distracting (in more ways than just clicking "refresh"). Like one user said a few days ago, I'd probably pay a small fortune to never see the News Feed again.
Thoughts? Would you ditch Facebook? Is it a necessary evil? Do you dislike using it, but still return to it everyday? How addicted to Facebook are you?
Thanks for reading.