Facebook.com, like MySpace.com or livejournal.com or many of the other sites designed for angst-ridden teens, has become wildly popular on our campus. New phrases reflect this changed social landscape. “We’re just Facebook friends,” or “Facebook me!” or “Go Facebook yourself.”
First, a brief explanation of what Facebook is, to those who have somehow avoided the Internet, possibly through illiteracy. Or maybe you’re one of those zany Amish-types who prefer friends who aren’t electronic.
Facebook is a network of people who attend various colleges and high schools, post profiles containing personal information and pictures, and join e-groups to show how individual they are. Facebook is also an excellent way to keep up-to-date on the relationships and future plans of your friends without the hassle of actually talking to them.
This brings us to the first major use of Facebook – stalking. That cute girl in your history class? Look her up, see if she’s single and ask her out to a showing of one of the movies listed under her favorites. Top it off by dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, paid for with her credit card. (Tip – posting your credit card number on the Internet is an excellent way to rack up frequent flier miles.)
If you’re too shy to ask her out in person, there’s always the Facebook mating ritual. It begins with a series of pokes, which are harmless e-jabs, then into a few exchanged flirty messages, maybe a posting on the wall about how cute that picture is. Finally, you can change your relationship status from ‘single’ or ‘desperate for anything. anything!’ to ‘cooler than you single losers.’
Facebook also lets you post pictures of you and your friends partying it up. In theory, this shows you’re a fun-loving individual and shows off your whacky accomplishments. In reality, this serves as evidence for the inevitable trial and as a chronicle of your growing alcoholism. (Tip – posting that picture of the stolen stop sign in your dorm is an excellent way to get a free ride downtown.)
Don’t forget that Facebook is a great way to connect with people you haven’t talked to since third grade. Just type any name in the global search, add them to your swelling ranks of e-friends and ignore them for another 15 years. They weren’t worth the effort the first time, after all. Of course, they might be rich now. Check their photo albums for nice cars.
Facebook can be used for legitimate things, too. There’s a built-in function that lets you search for people in your class. You can use this to get easily caught up if you miss a day because your stupid alarm malfunctions and shuts off just because you’ve unplugged it. Or if it’s too pretty outside to go to class. Or too cold. Or too close to a weekend.
Really, with a tool like Facebook, one truly has to marvel at the wonders of the information age. The Internet didn’t just change the way we get and steal information – it changed the way we get and steal social lives.
Johnathan Kastner is a senior English major. His column runs every Thursday in the Collegian. He is currently logged in from a non-residential location.