Facebook claims more than 10 million Facebookers and it is an indisputable college phenomenon. College thought leaders are not universally giving Facebook positive "pokes," however.
College students across the country are questioning the worth of Facebook interactions, both personal and political. Below are some college students thoughts on student communications at Facebook.
Facebook wrong site for advocacy
by David Medeiros, sophomore political science and English and textural studies major, Syracuse University, The Daily Orange, 9/29/06
Taking time off from the first crop of papers and projects, Syracuse students may have noticed the growing genre of purposeful "groups-with-souls" on Facebook. Could it be that the site hitherto known as a forum to declare that one attended "public school... bitch" and to announce a fondness for vintage Nickelodeon programming has suddenly grown a conscience? Be still, my heart!
Carrying the banners for a wide spectrum of causes from abortion rights to awareness of the Darfur genocide, there is a group for just about any political or charitable position imaginable. It would appear that our generation has a new tool in the fight against societal complacency. Yet I refuse to join the swelling ranks of these groups.
I offer as an example the most prominent such group: the self-explanatory "For Every 1,000 that join this group I will donate $1 for Darfur." This is a noble idea at face value. On closer inspection, it is in fact the height of pretension and superficiality. The creator of the group, Marek Grodzicki of New York University's network, set out three objectives for his group.
"Cuz [sic] so many people ask …," the groups description reads, two of its key goals are to "get Darfur some attention" and "Inspire to [sic] people to donate on their own to any charitabl [sic] organization." Grodzicki also posts that the group aims to "raise money (groups over 300k exist, 300k=$300 here, hopefully this will be bigger)."
That's right, folks. The group's error-ridden constitution states that its entire raison d'être is to raise $300. With that money, Grodzicki should be able to send at least one video iPod to the Sudan. He might even have a little money left over for festive gift wrapping. And they say the developed world isn't charitable.
Some will say that even poorly constructed gestures like this have powerful symbolic value. Unfortunately, this claim only holds weight if such gestures actually translate into some meaningful action - something a tad lofty for Facebook, which is essentially a gussied-up phonebook. I would argue that putting such serious issues as the systematic extermination of entire villages together with groups like "I Hate Ugg Boots" is tasteless at best and, at worst, downright offensive.
Joining this or a similar group will likely do little more than bolster the creator's curriculum vitae and give Mark Zuckerberg even more advertising revenue.
I still believe in the awesome potential of the Internet, but real world change requires more effort than clicking "join." It also requires and a hell of a lot more dedication than $300.
Unrestricted access spoils the fun of Facebook
by Heather Bonecutter, columnist, The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University, 9/28/06
It's yet another case of someone ruining a good thing. Facebook used to be fun, but now it has become an uncontrollable mass that clogs inboxes and controls people's worlds.
Daily, I receive invitations to join groups. In the beginning, each Facebook group had a purpose. We had a Maniacs group, many hometowns had their own groups and sports teams formed groups of supporters. Now, the groups are just dumb. People have either run out of ideas, or are just bored enough to sit there late at night and think, "You know, there just aren't enough groups about Chuck Norris - I think I'll make one."
As though the groups weren't bad enough, there is now the live "News Feed." Can someone please explain to me the newsworthiness of someone deciding to confirm a friend request and becoming "friends" with someone? Most often, these people barely know each other and just want yet another superficial Internet connection to make them feel special. That's all it is.
That's another thing. I recently started going through my "friends" list and deleting all the people that I don't know or only added me because we happened to go to the same high school. If I didn't talk to you in high school, odds are, I'm not going to sit here one night and go, "Hmm, wonder what's going on in their world? Think I'll message them." What happened to the good old days when you go could just go on Facebook and find your friend, see what's going on in their world and then go about your merry way?
It used to be this wonderful device that allowed many people to keep in touch with family and friends that they had to leave behind when they went to college. Now, the developers have opened it up and allowed access by pretty much anyone.
I understand that there are people who go into the military or just decide not to go to college, but that takes some of the novelty away from the system. If you allow everyone to use it, it is pretty much the same as MySpace. The thing that made Facebook so cool was the exclusivity. Now it is merely a way to stalk people you know and find out information about those you don't.
I will admit that I have sat at my computer many a sleepless night just floating from friend to friend and group to group in this ball of madness that has been presented to us. It is merely a way to waste time; that's all it is anymore. Will I cancel my account? Probably not. I like to go on and see what my real friends who I don't get to see anymore are up to and look at the pictures they have posted and remember the good times.
It's time to go back to what Facebook used to be. It used to be a mere network of friends that came together to find something to do online. Now it is a tangled mass of people who can watch each other's every move. Something has become creepy about a very good thing. I'm going to MySpace.