Facebook’s a Tool, Not a Rule

Kaela Chow '10

The Editor’s Column in last week’s edition of The Maroon-News discussed what Facebook has done to “face-to-face” relationships and the consequences of putting our private lives in the public realm. In all fairness to the editor, I must disagree on several points.

Any intelligent individual (as I assume most of us are since we got into Colgate) with 20 seconds on their hands can set their Facebook privacy settings so that the entire world doesn’t know what they’re up to. Maybe some people have nothing to hide or are too busy stalking strangers, but anyone who doesn’t take steps towards limiting who can and can’t view their profile has no place complaining if their future employer or parents look them up.

The claim that Facebook takes away from personal communication also seems to be painted with a broad brush. True, you might have seen that your friend had an internship in D.C and the pictures, but pictures are only chapter headings of life-not the whole story. The only way you’d find out what they were thinking or feeling in the snippets that you get is, of course, by asking. Sometimes you need to ask them over Facebook; sometimes you don’t have to, but either way, it’s still engaging in meaningful conversation with people you care about.

When I was a freshman, I too looked up the people in my class and the impressions I got from it were lasting — and nearly always positive. Just because someone has pictures of a late Jug night on their profile, that doesn’t mean you would necessarily think badly of them. Give them the benefit of the doubt or maybe try to hang out with them once-they obviously know how to have a good time. Maybe I’m the in the minority on this, but when pictures of me at the Jug come up that I might wish didn’t look so unfortunate, people never blog under them with comments of maliciousness. I get a lot of, “You look ridiculous” and “hahaha” but it’s pretty obvious that everyone is joking. I’m sure it happens out there in the wide world of cyberspace, but is it a real issue here? I don’t think so. Nor have I encountered instances of malicious picture posting. Again, I’m sure it must happen somewhere, but at pandemic proportions?

The long and short of it is, we have the ability to use Facebook as we want. It’s not ordering you how to interact with people. If you consider someone your friend and care about them, don’t just bemoan the evils of Facebook; get off the computer and take a little of that time you would have spent stalking them to go talk to them. Do something nice. My roommate and hallway mates thought I was crazy (and still do) to write them notes and mail them but it’s things like that that let them know you care. In the age when you can text, email and wall post just as easily as talk to someone, putting a little extra effort for the people you love will be sure to put you in their Top Friends list.