A Facebook Problem

MJ Porzenheim Editorials Editor Let’s have a discussion here, guys. Let’s just talk about Facebook. Freshmen: use security settings! Maybe it’s because you’ve all friend requested me, (I’m not that nice. You don’t want my friendship.) but I can see your profiles. I’m cool with that, but if your settings are public, for crying out loud, make them private. (You know what I’m not cool with? Duckface. Stop.) This also goes for some upperclassmen. You know who you are. You really don’t want that info out there- even if it’s not incriminating, it’s just creepy. And I was tempted to use that info in this article. I could actually write about friend groups and people who make imbecilic faces for the smartphone camera and name people by names. You know how some of you don’t want to be quoted on everything you say, especially when you think that you’ve an unpopular opinion, so in exchange for quotes we give you anonymity? I could quote anything you’ve said on your timeline if it’s public. And guess what? ANYONE on the internet could do that too, could figure out what you do and who you are and use that information against you. Make that information private, or I swear to God, I’ll publish my own little Facebook highlights news every week about who was photographed committing what felony. Okay? Got that down? Good. Moving on. Personally, I think liking each others’ profile photos ad nauseum is just odd. I’m given to understand that the number of ‘likes’ one gets on one’s profile photo is sort of a numerical measure of popularity. (And am I crazy, or did all the freshmen girls make a pact to like each others’ profile pics whenever they came out?) However, this is a faulty test- it’s actually a measure of how many Facebook friends you have that spend enough time on Facebook to always see profile pictures and like them. For the record, my current profile photo has 16 likes. Drat, I must be highly unpopular- or it must not be as viable a measure of popularity as some would like to think. Additionally, let’s think about the psychological ramifications of the ‘liking as a measure of likability’ thing. When people attach their human value to a number that depends upon others, they give others a lot of control over their own emotional state. When you count your ‘likes,’ you make it that much easier for people to bully you. I’m not blaming the victims, but if you don’t care about facebook, Facebook can’t hurt you. Another thing to consider- I’m sure some of you have heard of Dunbar’s Number. For those of you that haven’t, that’s cool, just look here. NPR is legit, folks, even if they are the favorite radio station of my forty-something mom. Anyway, it’s the idea that there’s a limited number of people who you can know. So if you have 1000 Facebook friends, truth is, they don’t all know you. And let’s talk about the “truth is” thing, while we’re at it. (For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, people post on others’ walls the phrase “truth is” and then proceed in the post to “reveal” a “truth.” More on my quotation mark usage below.) We don’t tell each other the truth on Facebook. I’m a terrible liar, but even I can lie on Facebook. Communication without audio or visual of me only gives the info I want it to. Real communication is not so under the control of the communicators- when I talk to my friends, I can’t lie and say I’m happy when I’m upset. I’ll still seem upset. However, if I were to Facebook message them that I was fine, then they would be none the wiser. So, actually, truth isn’t what you’re telling on Facebook. (Furthermore, does anyone get anything out of it that is productive or new? If I post on my aunt’s wall “truth is, I love you,” she’ll be rather unsurprised, and the majority of “truth is” posts that I’ve seen seem to be either of this rather obvious nature or jokes. Also, “truth is” could be a lovely thing- and it could actually serve a purpose- if it was done face to face and not just to the people you’ve always done right by. There are a fair number of people who deserve apologies from me- and I’m guessing the same is true of you. Just saying.) And it cheapens truth. We cheapen communication on Facebook. At the end of the day, if you want to connect with someone emotionally, you can’t do it on Facebook. If Facebook is a major way to connect and replaces face to face connection even a little, then our connections in general are cheapened. Full disclosure: I use Facebook. A lot. I’ve got a Facebook tab open as I type. It’s invaluable for school and clubs and teams. It’s just not invaluable for actual emotional connection. Thoughts, beautiful Forum readers? Leave them in the comments.  ]]>