Be Social, Don’t Network

Although they come with many names, social networking sites or “keep-in-touch” tools have a common effect on our privacy. I’m not the first to criticize social networking sites such as Facebook, nor will I be the last, but I think many of us have forgotten what life used to look like before Facebook. While websites such as Facebook and MySpace were questioned and criticized upon their conception, that air of skepticism soon flew out of the window. Eventually, even corporations and politicians started using these forums to attract more followers, like President Obama, whose Twitter page updates us on his daily comings and goings. We make private information extremely accessible by putting it on websites and communicate important facts to our friends by writing on their walls. While we are somewhat aware of this almost willful disregard for the sanctity of personal information, it is as if we never think twice about spending numerous hours on Facebook. The supposed purpose of these sites is to make it easier to socialize with people and keep in touch with old friends. However, although we frequently find ourselves in a room with dozens of people, it is not uncommon for them all to be typing away on their laptops, looking mildly amused by something they are reading on their Facebook accounts. The concept of talking to those around them never seems to enter their heads. The worst part is, although we are all aware of the effects of technology on our lives, we’ve stopped caring. We have gotten used to writing on someone’s wall instead of walking over to their room. Being “facebook-stalked” is an occurrence that seems to be routinely taken for granted. Now allow me to examine PAnet, our very own social networking site. It was meant to act as a way to keep in touch with other people in the Andover community. However, people often use it as a way to “schedule stalk” their fellow classmates. Even the student directory has become a tool for gossiping. Not up-to-date on campus romances? No problem, consult the student directory to put a face to the name in the latest gossip. The ironic part is that many students on this campus spend far too much time on Facebook and other websites while still complaining that they don’t have enough time to hang out with their friends or do their work. These sites also promote a self-absorbed mentality. This is especially true for sites like Twitter and Facebook, which encourage you to constantly update your status, boosting your ego, receiving comments and approval from others about the most miniscule and trivial aspects of their daily lives. Moaning about Upper spring, commenting about the weather in an amusing fashion and quoting well known lyrics have become the staple of statuses. Twitter is nothing but a portal for narcissism where people are asked to tell everyone and anyone who cares (or doesn’t care) about their lives in 140 words. But, if we need to let someone know how our day was, why not just talk to them? By posting our lives on the Internet, we’re allowing these details to pop up on everyone’s monitor and making it accessible to people we might not even know. It’s also important to keep in mind that Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and as well as the Internet, itself, are fairly new developments. One could even say that Facebook is a fad. Needless to say they have some advantages and are fun to use. However, they aren’t necessary in the long run. Facebook doesn’t achieve anything that can’t be achieved by email; it just presents it in a better package. Just as the pinstriped jumpsuit was the mistake of the 60’s, perhaps Facebook is our generation’s mistake. Maybe we’ll look back and think, “Wasn’t it so weird when you Facebook stalked me? Good thing we got over that.” Tia Baheri is a new Lower from Plano, TX.