Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Facebook: Putting a finger on what really irks me about it

I never really became obsessed with Facebook. I rarely updated my profile, I didn't visit daily, and I never added a single photo album. Originally, I wasn't even going to be a part of it, but after more than a month of pleading from my roommate, I finally joined (albeit a little reluctantly) in the Fall of my Sophomore year.

And honestly, I did enjoy it. It gave me a place to really stretch my OCD muscles with lists, wonderful lists of things I like and that totally prove how much cooler I am than you are because I don't listen to Fall Out Boy or Dashboard Confessional or like the movie An American President. It also happened to be an easy, un-awkward place to get in touch with people you haven't talked to since middle school before they moved away, or figure out where you first met that guy in your English class (oh! He's the guy from Poly Sci! It all makes sense).

I guess for a while I was a fan. I was co-administrator of the Amish Country Fan Club and a handful of other groups. I was always on the lookout for a good profile photograph of myself and spent an embarrassingly large amount of time writing on my friends' walls. And then, oh! Things got a little creepy.

First, I had to take my screenname off because I kept getting messages from people at Miami I didn't know. Whatever, no big deal. That sort of thing comes with the territory, I guess. And then Facebook decided to take the creepy factor into its own hands: if you're going to make it hard for creepy people, it said, we're going to make it hard for you to avoid the creepiness.

And they did.

At first, it was harmless: a list of recently updated profiles here, a photo album there (Tag the people in each photo! Leave notes! Write comments!). Then there were the high school accounts, followed by the status bar (fill in the blank: Loren is _____.). And now, every single update made by every single person I know is documented on my welcome page, which means that my information is being shared with everyone else.

So what's the point? When I first signed up for facebook, it was to share interests with new friends and catch up with old ones. Now, it seems like I should use it to follow closely each and every move of every person I know between the ages of 14 and 24 (alumni are welcome to continue using the site as well). Not only does that idea make me feel uncomfortable, but it also makes me feel like I have no privacy. Does my friend in St. Louis (hi Sarah!) care that I added Eric as my friend? No. She just likes to drop by and say hi on occasion. But that's not really what Facebook is catering to anymore.

With all this in mind, I deactivated my account tonight. Partially because I don't really care to be in the internet-social-circle spotlight, and partially because I am unimpressed with the way the site has become so powerful in the lives of the people around me. My stomach always lurches a little when I hear "I saw it on Facebook," and especially when it's coming from my own mouth, so I decided to do something about it. So don't look at me when the girl from your Sophomore economics class knows what you had for lunch last Thursday.

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