Some thoughts on Facebook

ReAnne Utemark

Facebook is slowly turning into MySpace. All of the silly applications and the top friends list, which gives you 20 spaces, rather than eight, so there is less competition among your friends for who gets a top spot, clog up one’s Facebook page to the point that someone trying to wish you a happy birthday gets lost trying to find the Wall to write on.

As well, Facebook has become a tool of indictment; some schools have taken to using posted photos of underage drinking, hazing and other general debauchery to punish students for these wrongdoings. The fact that the user generally puts those drunken, Friday night photos up willingly yet still gets angry about the wrong person seeing them is an entirely different issue. Of course, the anger is slightly more legitimate if someone else puts up the beer-bong photos, but that does not mean the photo can’t be untagged. As the saying goes, do not do anything that you do not want on the front page of the paper, which is, in some cases, how those photos are being used. The Student Press Law Center is doing research and exploring cases of schools using photos to punish students. In regard to jobs and graduate schools looking at those photos and quotes, there is not much the user can do except try and sterilize their Facebook page. That quote with the “F” word is not that witty anyway.

Another way that Facebook has been perverted is the attempt by college administrations and organizations to permeate Facebook. I should explain that I do not disagree with students creating groups or sending messages to their friends about upcoming events. However, a college trying to force its way into a student’s personal time and personal space seems to be counter intuitive. If, for example, a student wants to search an electronic database in the library, they are either going to go to the library and ask the knowledgeable staff, go to the library and use one of the computers, or steer their browser to the library Web site and use it appropriately. To try and put the library on Facebook or MySpace would be fairly pointless, as students would not use it. When students get on Facebook they are trying to figure out why So-and-so broke up with So-and-so or see the pictures from So-and-so’s recent trip. This is not to say that making the library Web site more user-friendly or creating other applications for one’s computer would be a bad move. Indeed, it might be most useful for those who really use the library’s electronic resources. But Facebook and MySpace are a no man’s land for academia.

This contention could be extended to the school setting up a social networking site. The reason I continue to use Facebook, despite having 59 requests and four notifications, is because I can keep up with friends from high school and those who have already graduated to see which college they have hopped to or when they are going to be home for breaks and we can hang out. I care about those friends at Washburn, but I see them on a regular basis. Also, I am Facebook friends with my sister, which is just silly.

Facebook, why did you have to ruin such a fun, simple thing with a bunch of stupid apps and by letting everyone in? Colleges won’t get any more participation in trying to use Facebook. It will just create more headaches and possible lawsuits for everyone.