Facebook celebrated its 10th birthday last week and apparently invited all the users to celebrate with them by creating a personal video montage of each user’s Facebook history. It’s essentially a compilation of your first posts, most-liked statuses, and pictures you’ve uploaded all in a short “look back” movie with nostalgic-esque music. It was a bit disappointing to me, when I clicked on someone’s video and expected to see something other than what Facebook already contains.
Anyway, as I was watching my video and thinking about how Facebook is only ten years old, I realized what a wasted few minutes that was for me to sit there watching statuses and pictures that I had already posted. I waste more time creeping and browsing than I’d probably care to admit. It’s the bane of my academic career, and I spend more time on it than I expect to and more importantly need to. It drains the clock and pushes back that time I could have spent doing homework or actually having a social life other than the one behind the computer screen.
If you’re like me, you log on when you get to a computer or check it periodically throughout the day on your smart phone because let’s face it, checking Facebook on the bus or waiting in the massive stairwell-line in Eddy between classes requires less energy than striking up a conversation with a stranger. And who doesn’t like creeping on their ex’s new partner? You might be in the same position. OK, maybe not that last part, but it is my experience that Facebook is to college students what crack cocaine is to addicts.
You’ve probably heard the drawbacks of Facebook. Stuff like it’s a tool for procrastination, a source of jealousy and envy (Look how great his/her life is. Mine isn’t that great.), an invitation for employers to comb through your personal life and just generally a bad habit. I definitely agree with some of these and it’s probably a good idea to go through your pictures every once in a while and delete those questionable, usually-alcohol-involved photos. I’ve often thought about deleting my Facebook altogether to avoid these pitfalls, but upon second thought, I don’t think that’s necessary.
Facebook has many upsides that often don’t get recognized. First of all, it’s a great, easy way to connect with friends and family across the globe. In our increasingly mobile society, it’s important and often times difficult to stay connected with those people with whom we’ve built relationships. Facebook makes it easy to keep up; see who’s getting married, having kids, changing careers…etc.
When we are part of social media, we are in the loop. I mean, how many heard about the Arapahoe shooting from a news feed? It might be sad, but it’s also very true that some get their news about politics, music, popular culture, and global issues from their news feed. I’m also very connected to groups and the subsequent communication. Yeah, the constant updates do get annoying at times, but I’d rather be in the know on what, when, and where than lost in the abyss of no social life. In an odd sort of way, my social media actually promotes my social life.
Another upside to Facebook usage that I am particularly fond of as a college student is the reality that Facebook is a brain break. After sitting at a table and staring at the same computer screen and document for five hours straight, my brain needs to just chill for a bit. That’s where mindlessly scrolling and watching hilariously stupid vines comes in handy. The trick is to putting a time limit on this, though, or using it as a reward system like if I get this page written, I can spend five minutes on Facebook. (Yes, sometimes my academic life comes to this)
So how should we handle our sticky relationship with this online personal profile that allows us to both connect and creep, veg and waste time? I’d say be smart with it. Limit your usage time, clean it up and don’t be insufferable (Every picture should not be a selfie. Save that for Instagram.), and give yourself a break. Log on for a few minutes and enjoy scrolling. Click on an old friend’s profile and nonverbally “catch up” with him. Read that ridiculous CSU confession. It might be nice to just exist online and not let it dictate your off-line life.
Meg Monacelli is a junior English major and hates to love Facebook. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.