If Facebook were suddenly shut down, our school would probably shut down with it. I don’t think we realize how much we rely on Facebook, not only as a social outlet, but also as an academic and extra-curricular resource that keeps our lives in order and priorities balanced. Almost every club, sports team, grade, and even rigorous class has its own group on Facebook, meaning that we have a lot of commitments to keep up with, which require our frequent attention to social media. We have to constantly check in on Facebook to see the major announcements and reminders posted by Roman Gov, our peppy and well-maintained Student Government profile run by Hannah Crane. We also use Facebook to facilitate our advertisements, making statuses about upcoming performances, sports games, club sign-ups, and even new issues of this very newspaper. On top of that, we often have to use Facebook as a way of communicating with our peers regarding that impossible lab report question or that Nazi Mind brief that’s due tomorrow. Even as I write this article, I find myself returning to my Facebook window to make sure that I’m not missing any important messages or announcements. Needless to say, Facebook is vital to the networking of our community and the organization of our school-affiliated lives.
Unfortunately, Facebook is a double-edged sword that’s not as simple and clear-cut as some might think. In order to reach those urgent announcements or contact someone with a question about your homework, you need to fight some serious distractions. For those of us high school students with Facebook accounts, I think it’s safe to say that we all know what it’s like to be overcome by the many distractions that Facebook presents, namely Facebook stalking. However, some people take drastic measures to try and fight the distraction. For example, in order to stay focused on her schoolwork, Junior Caroline Chu “decided not to go on Facebook for a good two weeks, and even though [she] was more productive, it was difficult [for her] to keep up with school-related announcements.” Despite the distractions that it presents, it’s basically impossible to not go on Facebook because you have to be able to access the school-related side, much like Caroline realized when she “finally went back on” and “found about 20 messages, some time-sensitive.”
Facebook can also be very spotty when it comes to privacy. Those of us with accounts put our whole lives out there on the internet in the form of photos, posts, videos and so on, often times without even considering the consequences, which has caused severe issues in the past for students at Latin. We display our lives on our profiles, but then feel the need to hide all of it because those who don’t have our permission can still invade our privacy, which is why we adopted the tradition of seniors wittily changing their Facebook names so that colleges won’t be able to find them. So, when you get a Facebook account, you’re obtaining inside access to convenient school-associated information, but you’re also making yourself susceptible to distractions (which, in turn, can lead to procrastination) and invasions of privacy.
Because Facebook plays such a pivotal role in our school, we hardly even notice the amount of times it gets mentioned during student announcements in gathering. We hear things like, “Just check Roman Gov for the details” or, “Freshman, be sure to ‘friend’ us so we can add you to the Facebook group.” The whole faculty is there with us in gathering, so many teachers take notice of this phenomenon. Mr. Gilden, a teacher who has had no interaction with Facebook, commented that “every time someone makes an announcement…[he], as a nonmember, [is] conscious of [the mentions of Facebook]” and feels that it must “be annoying for students who aren’t on Facebook.” Mr. Gilden brings up a great point: we often assume that everyone has an account because it’s such a large part of our lives, so we sometimes neglect to cater to the needs of students without Facebook accounts when running Facebook groups for clubs, sports teams, grades, etc..
To get a different perspective, I talked to Ms. Hennessy, who, unlike Mr. Gilden, is an avid Facebook user and believes that “Facebook is a wonderful facilitator for all things happening at Latin.” But, because she isn’t allowed to be Facebook friends with us until we graduate, she isn’t involved in the same things as we are on Facebook. She believes that “the difference for an adult is that the best part of Facebook is staying in touch with friends from college and former students: people who [she doesn’t] see.” For Ms. Hennessy, Facebook is still school-related, just in a different way, and we will be using Facebook in the same way once we’ve all graduated.
Facebook has become such a significant part of our community of students that it seems that even email has become obsolete. It allows us to communicate with one another about assignments, organize our various clubs, grades, social groups and sports teams, and access important announcements about school. And even though we won’t need Facebook for those same reasons after we graduate, we will all remain connected with one another. As long as Facebook is up and running, the same will be true for the Latin community.