Whether you love or loathe it, you probably have Facebook. Though connecting millions of people and a tool for activism, it’s often a platform for vanity and hate. Does it make our lives better or worse?
Facebook, a mystical land of narcissists, selfies and pointless status updates – or is it? Facebook has transformed social networking in a way that no one could have imagined 10 years ago when we all hung out on msn sending emoticons back and forth. Facebook is a world of global connections, hilarious photo sharing, event planning, activism and news. As an individual who is currently studying abroad I find Facebook to be a blessing as it allows me to stay connected with my friends and family back home while at the same time connecting me to new friends here in Leeds. I’ve not only made new friends but have also kept busy through events and groups on Facebook that I likely wouldn’t have known about had I not had Facebook.
Facebook is all about connection, which is one of the most important things in life, to be connected with others. The extent to which our personal reach can be made is far greater today than it has ever been. I can stay in touch with childhood friends, high school teammates and university flatmates while simultaneously exploring my pals travel photos from South East Asia, while I listen to another great song that my best friend has just posted. Before Facebook there were sites that you could do one or two of the previously listed online activities, but Facebook put them all in one allowing anyone with access to the internet to share in the fun.
I realise that a lot of people criticize Facebook for the monotonous selfies or ‘pointless’ other posts, but in reality Facebook provides a space for people to share their creativity, interests and passions with one another while allowing a network of friends, acquaintances and strangers to ‘like’ and discuss material that is posted.
I remember the spiteful glee with which my then friends responded to the news that I had caved in and got Facebook. It really felt like defeat. I didn’t want Facebook then and barely a day goes by where I don’t feel something of a lagging resentment about the apparent necessity of participation in the world of social media.
In actual fact I am a daily user of Facebook. It helps me keep in touch with far away friends and to keep up with the societies I love so much about my university experience. After all, who doesn’t love the occasional Buzzfeed article or Upworthy video to aid in procrastination? Such an informal medium that it is, it makes not losing touch an easy and virtually effortless pastime and letting not-so-loved ones know what I had for breakfast can be done with a single click of a button.
I sometimes can’t help thinking that actually making a more substantial effort to keep relationships alive would suit me better. Distance helps the heart grow fonder after all and it’s hard to get the distance required when not an hour goes past without you being updated that somebody you saw an hour ago is now drinking a caramel latte and musing about something probably banal. Of course I’m just as guilty as the next person of uploading aimless photographs of food (probably croissants in my case) or similarly self-indulgent pursuits on to the Internet.
I suppose in the end it’s because it all seems rather harmless. Or is it? On days when I’m not feeling my best, I really don’t want to log on to see an estranged lover, enemy, bully from the past appearing on my wall because they’ve commented on a mutual friend’s post. But this kind of minor pang pales into insignificance compared to the realms of misogynist diatribe that people feel the need to share. Or the notorious cases of virtual bullying that are worrying teachers all over the country (and world?). I can’t really pin point why my grievance is so persistent, but there it is. Even though not a day goes by without me using it, I don’t like Facebook.