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The Great Big Facebook Debate

Love it or hate it Facebook is here. I’m confused as to whether it is a positive thing or not. Here are my thoughts, what are yours?

Before right at the end of uni I was never on facebook. I just wasn’t really interested. I remember people talking about it and thinking it sounded a bit self indulgent and material. I always said I wouldn’t do the whole myspace thing, feeling that I would rather people got to know me through actually speaking and spending time with me then visiting some webpage. But alas people kept on saying they’d seen drunken pictures of me on there, my vanity and curiosity got the better of me, I just couldn’t help myself. At first I thought it was really good, I was getting in touch with school friends I hadn’t seen in years and being able to show people where I had been and what I had been up to. But now I’m starting to worry it’s gone too far, I have 312 friends and 811 pictures of myself there. This past year has been documented with various pictures from various people, I feel as though my each move is under surveillance. This means I might as well of put on 2.2 pictures of myself on everyday this year and as for 312 friends, there are some people on their I don’t even know who they are, just accepted their add because I didn’t want to be rude. Nation under CCTV, I’m starting to really understand what people are talking about. We all have our own personal ‘big brother’ and it’s a page we have created ourselves!

Sometimes I’m out and I see a group of girls taking pictures of each other making comments like “that’s going on facebook” and another squealing at the prospect of a bad picture being online of them. I can’t really judge because we are all guilty of untagging those just plain awful pictures are so called ‘friends’ post of us. Sometimes people can be really vindictive and post pictures of things you’d rather the whole world didn’t see or scrutinise your every move but it can also be an innocent mistake as a picture is just a picture, isn’t it? I suppose that’s the nature of facebook, our culture is obsessed with reality and showing things how they really are even though a facebook page can never truly represent a person, it’s like a half truth. Even though you set up your own page and status other people can also control the side of you that facebook represents through pictures and wall postings.

Pictures are what facebook really is about. It’s a good way of keeping a massive photo album with all your memories. The only thing that I find disconcerting about this is the way people, especially girls, have stopped smiling in photos. It seems to be more about wearing the right outfit and being in the right place than actually having a good time. Some people have say 20 photos of them and their friends from a single night out and they are all pulling the same pose all the way through. But then again I can’t say I’m not guilty of striking a pose knowing that the picture will probably end up on facebook at some point. Since when has taking pictures been more about how it looks on the Internet than capturing a happy moment? The saying a picture can say a thousand words just isn’t true on facebook. I’ve looked back on pictures from times where I remember feeling really unhappy and see myself pouting back like I was having the time of my life. It’s difficult because everyone seems to be so happy all the time on facebook. I wonder if other people put on the same pretence as me? Negative statuses are normally tongue in cheek or people just think you’re weird if you bear your soul. Facebook is by nature intrusive, telling people you barely know exactly where you’ve been and what you up to. But there is one small snag; it only wants to know so much. Facebook only wants to know the bare minimum, like; are you in a relationship or out of one? As if it’s as simple as the icon of a cartoon heart being whole or broken in two. Life just isn’t this simple, that’s why it can only ever be a half truth or should I say half lie?

There is of course, as there is with everything, another side to the facebook phenomena. The side that allows friends to communicate with each other from the other side of the world or show pictures of special moments that people would have otherwise missed. It’s incredible how you can be hundreds of miles away and all you need is Internet access and you will be able to communicate with the people you love. This is where it is brilliant, free to use and effective, short burst of information about people you care about. It can also be expressive, changing your status and going public about how you really feel is pretty brave. It’s a way to let everyone know how you feel and that you’re not afraid to show it. Which is really positive if it’s not hurting anyone else in the mean time and of course if you get the response you want.

On a few occasions I have considered giving up facebook. You know, deleting my page and taking away all my pictures. This is when facebook has betrayed me, showing me pictures of an ex with someone new, finding out something that I wouldn’t normally of known about or want to know. This is when I want to wash my hands of it and be done. Sometimes I think my mini feed has a mind of it’s own, showing only snip-its of people’s lives that would be relevant to me. Being burnt by facebook can be the harshest type of burn, sitting alone at your computer and being faced with only the facts “the person you love is now in a relationship with …” or a picture that will make you jump to all the wrong conclusions. I might have 312 friends on facebook but hearing bad news in this blunt generic way can make you feel like the loneliest person in the world, facebook offers no hug or a chat. But then people say to me why don’t you just delete that person from your friends list? Truth is I’m not that sort of person, sooner or later they’ll find out they’ve been deleted and I would feel even more foolish than I did when I got hurt by a single sentence or a picture on my news feed. You can also control who you get news about hear less or more about different people. I find this really weird; it aids stalking and obsessive behaviour if you ask me. You can also put down that you want to hear less about someone, which really means you want to hear more, so what’s the point anyway? So I leave it alone, let the fates of facebook decide who/what I hear about. It’s a bit like my ipod shuffle sometimes, I’ll be thinking about someone or see a street name and then a song will come on that will remind me of that person. Facebook’s like that because for however many times it’ll piss you off and show you things you don’t want to see, they’ll always be a some happy coincidences along the way, something that will make you want to get in touch with someone you were already thinking about. Things like an old friend being in the same town or someone you like is going to the same gig or club that weekend, it wouldn’t be much fun missing out on these little coincidences now would it?

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