Facebook-itis Hits Colgate

Brian Hinrichs

Email, AIM, cell phones, old CUTV programs, the Inky: the list of distractions for Colgate students is endless, as we all find incredible – and often ridiculous – ways to put off our work. And just when you thought you had conquered that desire to check your away message, or see if any new emails have arrived, the phenomenon that has slowly been invading campuses nationwide reaches Colgate in the last year. Procrastination just requested a new friend, and TheFacebook.com accepted. This all may sound a bit dramatic, especially to those who have yet to discover TheFacebook.com, but to rest of us, it’s an obsession that has me questioning two things. First, is this a perpetuation of superficiality, or merely a fun distraction that allows us to see our friends and their friends and their friends’ friends? Secondly, is this a new means of communication that is beneficial to our society or just another step in the total deterioration of physical contact (i.e. phone calls and letters)? In response to the first dilemma, I do not think TheFacebook.com is merely a perpetuation of superficiality, mainly because the people we are seeing are already our friends. It differs from the Inky in the respect that we are no longer judging these people merely on appearance because we know them. And if we don’t know them, we can take away at least a small sense of their personality from either their profile or the type of picture they choose to display. While of course TheFacebook.com feeds our superficiality to some extent – for example, in instances where one might vainly try and gain as many friends as possible just for the number – for the most part I can take it all in good fun. The second question is more complex, but despite the fun of TheFacebook.com, and the occasional use it has in connecting old pals, it is basically just another example of our society’s laziness. With TheFacebook.com, we are given reminders of our friends’ birthdays; we are given their screen names, their email addresses, their room numbers and more. Now we don’t even have to IM them for this basic information, let alone call or even write. While we are provided with a friendly picture and personal profile, what truly reminds us of a friend is lost. It’s impossible not to give in to the technology that surrounds us in one way or another, especially with something that feeds our natural curiosities so well as TheFacebook.com. So, with this being said, I know I’ll still frequent the website, and probably will continue to check it as regularly as e-mail or AIM, as I’m sure the rest of you will. But just keep this quote by economist Thomas Sowell in mind: “The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.”