Archive for February 9th, 2010

When I was a Junior in High School, I had a Myspace page, which my mother was less than thrilled to see. I convinced her that Facebook was a better, safer alternative, and it had only just been opened to high schoolers, meaning it had to be safer. I remember making a profile, adding a few friends who were in college and receiving my first wall post from one of them: a girl I knew from Model UN that had graduated a year before. She said “Since when did they let hs-ers on here?!?!”.

It has been really cool to see such a dramatic evolution of a medium that has started to change the way that we make friends and network. I had a paper facebook that was published in high school. My uncle still has his from college. Now, my “People you may know” box says that “You and Kathleen Cullen-Harwood went to Cornell Together!!” Uh, hell no we didn’t, that’s my mom…

Facebook

Sure, I love being able to still be connected with people I would have otherwise forgotten from small events few and far between, but has Facebook maybe added to the degradation of conversation in our society? My 14 year old cousin has a Facebook profile, do I need her looking at my pictures? I had an interview and the employer said that she had searched me. Do we need that risk? When did a summer job start to care what I did the other 9 months of the year? Fun may literally be being killed as we freak out about what will appear on our profile. Could I not get hired by a company because they don’t agree with one of my quotes?

Meanwhile, the bank I worked at this summer required executives to do shots of vodka before their presentations at the regional retreat. The real world apparently has fun, so why can’t I? Why do I have to be so nervous?  We live in such a changed digital age. Should I be worried about an employer finding this blog?

I see this all as harmful to our society. The increased self-censoring is bad news for all of us. A recent Wired magazine article discussed how the public conversation has been totally changed as our social networks expand to the point where it is no longer a group of a manageable size. It isn’t just that our social networks have grown to the point where we cannot feasibly sustain all of our connections either. We have downgraded our forms of communication: I asked a fraternity brother for help on picking classes last year via Facebook message. His response: “I am your brother and friend. You can’t pick up your goddamn phone and call me?” And he is right, we seem to have gotten to the point where we no longer directly communicate with people.

That is not to say that Facebook is a bad thing, I just don’t know if I am really in the generation that can utilize it the most efficiently. My mom, who has already learned how to talk on the phone and maintain friends, without the internet, is now on Facebook, and uses it to reconnect with people she has fallen out of touch with for various reasons. My generation is way too young to be able to appreciate that power. Instead, we use it as a cop-out to real communication and connection and run the risk of allowing the “real world” to see what we actually are…

Well, I guess at least I can type faster because of it now…

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