9.15.2006

Face to Face


by Adrienne Lee

I walk in after a difficult eight hours away from my computer and check out the latest. I click to find out that an acquaintance from high school has just become “friends” with someone I vaguely know at school, that Emily is doing laundry and that seven of my friends have joined DC CLUB LIFE. I recognize that it is slightly bizarre that I know that one friend, whom I have not seen nor spoken with in ages, had typed of his intention of making some soup exactly fifteen minutes ago and is likely enjoying a bowl at this very moment.

We have talked about how, in some ways, our culture, and mankind in general, has evident voyeuristic tendencies. It is not just those who follow every gruesome detail in the JonBenet Ramsey case or keep tabs on where Justin and Cameron vacation. It’s every day, when we come into our rooms, after checking our e-mails and before we find the energy to start our homework. And it’s getting easier. A couple of years ago, through profiles and away messages on AIM (AOL's Instant Messenger), we got the necessary information about those we don’t have enough time or familiarity with to actually have a conversation with using vocal chords. We saved the screen names of “buddies” we occasionally IMed or simply checked in on sometimes. That was all good and creepy, but then came Facebook. I couldn’t write on modern media and not talk about Facebook. As frivolous as it seems, it is undeniable the astounding command it holds over college students, and the effect it has had on our communication.

Facebook.com is an online directory that connects people through social networks, according to the site’s homepage. Whether one finds the website absolutely contemptible or completely addicting (or very likely a combination of the two), there are indisputable truths about the digital phenomenon. Truth number one: it is nearly impossible to find something so universal among college students. We list different interest and opposing political viewponts, but, let’s face it, nearly everyone uses it. And, how could I write about Facebook without mentioning the News Feed fiasco? When have so many different people been so unified on one topic except, amusingly, to rebel against the site’s “privacy-invading” feature (I admit that I, myself joined the group ‘Facebook’s new mini-feed makes me so angry I want to punt raccoons’).

Truth number two: It’s strange and awkward that potentially daily, strangers are judging you based on your number of so-called “friends” and the ditty you pasted into your “About Me” section. Through this ‘networking,’ are we increasing our communication or merely cheapening it?

I think that the answer varies by individual.

Truth number three: If we recognize its lack of substance in defining and communicating with our fellow students, it is a fun addition to college culture. In reality, we are (or should be) identified by what we do after we turn our computers off. (Or, more likely, put up an away message!) :)




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