Click, refresh. Wait 30 seconds. Click, refresh. Rinse and repeat. If this sounds familiar to you, chances are that you have caught the Facebook bug. With over 100 million users worldwide, Facebook has become the cook way to stay in touch with anyone and everyone.
Although Facebook offers an easy way to communicate with people, teenagers should not use it as their primary way to socialize.
Sending messages back and forth lacks the advantages of face-to-face conversations. This is especially true for building friendships. Emotions come across muddled through text and body language is completely gone. Because much of Facebook is open to the public eye, wall messages are little more than meaningless chitchat that does little to advance friendships.
“The way I see it is that some high school students are kind of busy doing their own things in reality,” freshman Esther Park said. “So to continue their friendships, they go online, like Facebook, email or MySpace too.”
Undeniably, Facebook is not all bad. It offers some advantages, such as a quick and easy way to get in contact with people who can’t be seen as often because they go to another school. Facebook’s event feature makes it easy to organize any kind of group activity. It allows the event organizer to send updates or reminders to the entire invitee list.
However, the ease of communicating through Facebook oftentimes goes too far. Many teens who use Facebook have more people added to their friends list than they are able to keep in contact with in real life. Because students can carry on conversations with so many people at once, it is tempting for them to spend long hours twiddling away time on the internet while sending messages back and forth. This only amounts to a waste of time, as much of what happens on Facebook is never mentioned in real life. In addition, constant online chatting greatly cuts productivity because it provides a constant distraction.
“If the person is on it 24/7, then that’s a problem,” senior Tessa Raguz said. “Facebook is supposed to be a way to communicate, but your life is not supposed to revolve around it.”
More and more teenagers are using Facebook as the one and only way to communicate outside of school. Long gone are phone calls and catching up over coffee. Those who do not have Facebook are considered out of the loop. Furthermore, students are not just using Facebook to deal with school matters but also with personal issues. It is much easier but also much less effective to deal with a sensitive matter when one cannot see the other person’s face or hear the person’s voice.
The popular Honesty Box application on Facebook goes even farther than removing sender’s face and voice; it removes the sender’s identity. The Honesty Box allows users with the application to comment on each other anonymously, for better or for worse. This often erupts into drama when an insult is received, and because the sender is unknown, the conflict can rarely be resolved.
“I think that the internet has definitely changed peoples’ friendships,” sophomore Teresa Fabbricino said. “It’s an easy outlet to confront people both negatively and positively and also takes away [sincerity] and closeness from a friendship or relationship.”
Facebook has greatly skewed the definition of a friend. In pre-Facebook days, most people saw someone as a friend if they shared a bond. Now it is only a matter of if you are added to each other’s friends lists. Rejecting someone’s request to be added to the list has come to be interpreted as not wanting to associate with that person. This has pressured many teens into adding people to their friends list even if they barely know each other.
The combination of peer pressure addictive time-wasting features make Facebook hard to resist. But teens should take a step back and use Facebook in moderation as a tool to enhance their social life and not as a replacement for it.