Friday, October 7, 2011

The Facebook

I am going to take a brief break from my normal life updates, to go on a little rant. Stay with me here… there is a point (I think).

I remember my brother coming home from college during his freshman year and telling me about this illustrious website called www.TheFacebook.com. It was a site only accessible by college students, with a registered University email address. The Facebook validated each person’s email with the college before the student was granted access to the site, and not every University had access quite yet. It was still in the growing phase. I remember Joseph showing me his page, that allowed basic contact information and one profile picture.

My freshman year at ASU, I remember the day that photo albums became live on Facebook (between Joseph’s freshman year and mine, the website dropped the “The” from their name). I remember my first album, and the silly pictures I posted of my roommate and me. The site was now open to anyone with a college email address, all colleges were now represented, and you could connect with friends around the country, if not world, as long as they were a college student.

Six years later, Facebook is accessible by anyone and it is the most popular and widely used social media site in the world. College students are now joined by 5 year olds, grandparents, and dogs, all of which are eager to post their full contact information, interests and activities, education and employers, friends, family, and thousands of pictures. Facebook is accessible on your PC, laptop, iPad, BlackBerry, and cell phone… so you can stay updated with your “friends” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And what defines a “friend” per say? Pre-Facebooka friend was a person you were attached to by strong affectionate feelings. Now thanks to Facebook, a “friend” is anyone who can access your full information on your “page”. They have access to every personal detail that you post, or anyone posts about you.

Psychology studies have shown that the generation below me (people currently in high school and younger) has stronger feelings of anxiety and less ability to socialize with people. The cause? Social media. Kids, and adults for that matter, have grown so accustomed to communicating only through Facebook, that when confronted face to face with a human interaction, their skills are lacking. Individuals are feeling high levels of anxiety in social situations and feel as if they must always be “connected” to others, hence why the Facebook application on phones is so popular.

Please don’t read this as a “I’m holier than thou because I don’t use Facebook” rant. I am on Facebook. I have it on my phone. What bothers me is that I have friends and family that I ONLY communicate with through Facebook. There were friends at our wedding who I had not actually spoken to since college or graduate school graduation, yet we had stayed updated with each other’s lives through Facebook. It’s sad and disheartening.

So here is where I make my point (I know you were waiting for it). I am challenging you, to challenge me, to step away from Facebook. Instead of writing on my Facebook wall, pick up the phone and call me. Instead of posting a picture to my wall, print it out and sent it in a card to me. I have a college friend who I am pen pals with. No not email, actual snail mail with a licked envelope and stamp. I send and receive about 2 letters per month. They are the highlight of my day. While it is not the same as a phone call or a lunch date, it is personal, unique, and it takes time and effort. Which aren’t these characteristics that build every solid friendship?

I am making a pledge to you. I am taking Facebook off of my phone. I just removed the application. I swear. That one small step will help me be a better friend, daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, and wife. That is one less thing I will be addicted to on my phone. Slowly but surely, I will also delete my Facebook account. Maybe that will be my New Year’s resolution.

Just deleting Facebook off of my phone took a huge weight off of my shoulders. I encourage you to take the same step.

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