Negative Networking

Negative Networking

Jackson Leeds

Mark Zuckerberg has always been the one to say that the purpose of Facebook is to make the world a more open, connected place. He wants people to be able to share what is important to them in an easy way that is free for everyone. However, it is tough to imagine that he knows ex­actly what the negative effects are that his website causes for its daily users.

I am not one to say that Facebook is solely a time-wasting site with a completely negative effect on our society. I have Facebook and use it almost daily, so for me to have one and say it’s completely useless would be hypocritical. Since the creation of Facebook and Twitter, the world seems to be much more in sync with it­self. We can hear about the protests in Egypt from the same place we hear about what our friend had for lunch, and somehow it works.

Facebook is making social interaction less human, though. When I first got a cell phone when I was 11 years old, I noticed myself immediately become a different person. All of the sudden, I had more independence; I was able to talk to my friends more and stay in better touch with my parents at the same time.

Fast-forward three years to ninth grade. That was the year I started to hear about Facebook and how everyone in my high school had one.

One of my friends at the time convinced me to get an account, and after a few days, I already had 100 friends. I was shocked at how many people were connected through the site.There was a frightening amount of information on this site, even just at a cursory glance.

People were putting everything up on their pag­es, from their favorite music and books to pictures of themselves on vacation with their families. Friends would have conversations in public cyberspace as if no one was paying any attention to their discourse.

Facebook has allowed us to create a digital map of our social position in the world.

It now even allows us to link family and relatives to our account. However, with this “digital map” there are a few problems.

First of all, the people who are going to enjoy a site like Facebook the most are more likely teenagers or college students. Teenagers and college students say hurtful things to each other, and recently it seems like Facebook has become an outlet for such banter.

Classmates can make subtle inside jokes about others and post embarrassing photos. Whether it is in good fun or mean spirited, Facebook has no concern: it just wants to know as much about you as possible.

Saying something online or on Facebook is usually a very weak way to communicate with others. It is difficult to show your true emotions, say anything significant or too private (although Facebook does offer a certain amount of privacy within itself ).

My fear is that those growing up with Facebook, e-mail and Twitter are weaker at communicating in person because so often they use these outlets. Facebook started as a website with little ads, applications or games. The site was originally quite tidy and neat for such a grand idea; now advertisements, games and spam overrun the site and make it quite different than it was before. The advertise­ments on Facebook are catered to you: after all, Facebook knows where you live, what you like and who your friends are. It’s an advertiser’s dream. By signing up for the site, you are guaranteed countless solicitation by the site’s many incessant advertising companies.

Facebook has also made it difficult for students to prioritize their lives.

Should their profile be catered towards what employers would like to see or what friends would like to see? I think about this every time I see someone tagged in a photo with a beer in his or her hand.

I’m not saying I have never had a beer, but I proba­bly would not like a picture of myself on Facebook with one. Maintaining a reputation is difficult enough; man­aging one’s self-worth on the Internet is an even more dangerous proposition.

Facebook also makes far too much information visible, even if you may not believe such a thing possible in the digital age. If someone I have recently met adds me on Facebook, I am instantly handing out hundreds of pho­tos, displaying my personal taste and showing everyone who I know. Are these things people who hardly know you should be able to find out in an instant?

I have to say I will probably not stop using Facebook in the near future, but I certainly am cautious about the effect it is having on others and myself. As cliché as it sounds, we need to not forget that human interaction comes first, not some social networking site.