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The Facebook Craze

Musings on the ubiquitous social networking site.


Sometimes, it disturbs me to think of how prevalent the ‘F’ word has become in our society. It’s so popular that people who don’t use it are almost considered uncivilized. I am, obviously, talking about the social networking site, Facebook. Yes, Facebook—the site that you have probably opened up in another window or your mobile phone, this very second, as you read this article.

So, what is so special about the ‘F’ word that it has revolutionized the way people communicate? Why are people addicted to it?

Facebook’s tremendous impact on people, particularly college students, is evident from the fact that it has become one of the primary forums for advertising college events, clubs and organizations. Every club that I am a member of has utilized Facebook groups or events as one of their marketing strategies. Having a site that almost everyone on your college campus is guaranteed to check at least once a day makes it a great publicity platform.

For prospective applicants to U.S. universities, social networking is of special significance. “Four out of every five college admissions offices use the social network to recruit students,” says a report on www.allfacebook.com. “That statistic comes from Kaplan Test Prep’s 2010 survey of college admissions officers. And like the company’s Senior Communication Manager Russell Schaffer clarified in an e-mail, ‘we found that 82 percent of admissions officers reported that their school is using Facebook to recruit students.’ ”

“That doesn’t mean that the content of a Facebook profile factors into decisions on whether to admit students, but we suspect that the more competitive institutions might pay more attention to applicants’ social media presences,” the report adds.

In a blog post in February, Studentadvisor.com editor-in-chief Dean Tsouvalas shared some great advice on how applicants can use social networks to their advantage. Tsouvalas suggested following the social media feeds of the schools one plans to apply to; using blogging tools to show off good writing skills; making use of the privacy settings to limit what college admissions officers might see; and uploading a video on YouTube talking about why you want a particular institution to admit you.

Facebook helps people keep in touch through status updates, profile updates, relationship updates and pretty much every update possible. The only reason why I know that a high school friend, who is 11,000 kilometers away, and who I barely ever talk to, broke up with her boyfriend, or watched an amazing movie, or ate some delicious chocolate cake is because of Facebook. However, sometimes status updates serve practical purposes. For instance, my friend wanted to make 150 photo prints for a birthday collage so she set her status asking friends to suggest places where she could get free prints. Now, with the help of this amazing Facebook forum, I know exactly what to do when in need for photo prints. But as I said before, statuses are only useful sometimes.  Most other times, they are a source of unnecessary details about someone’s life or song lyrics.

To add to the addiction factor, Facebook provides free online games that let you play against your friends. What could be better than competing with your friends and showing up on everyone’s newsfeed as the champion of Tetris Battle? Pretty much nothing. During finals week of last semester, I walked into a study room full of students who seemed to be intensely focused on something. I had just settled down and pulled out my notebook, when I was deafened by an uproar of excitement. What I had mistaken to be a group of intensely focused, academically motivated individuals turned out to be a bunch of procrastinators glued to their computer screens playing Crazy Taxi against each other. Even if you are one of those people who don’t really care about Facebook notifications, friend requests and juicy gossip, you might just fall victim to one of these super-addictive games.

A couple of days ago, I heard this exchange between two girls on my way to class.

“Did you hear that Katie and John broke up?”

“No way, they’re totally in love with each other. Who told you?”

“No one, it says so on Facebook.”

“Oh, so it’s ‘faceficial’ then.”

It amazes me to think that in order for something to be believable, it needs to be posted on Facebook, advertised on multiple newsfeeds and commented upon by several people. Some people are taking the “It’s not official, until it’s ‘Faceficial’ ” phrase too seriously.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to pretend I hate Facebook or that I’m not a victim of the amazing wonders of the Facebook world. In fact, to make this whole process more fun, I tried to keep count of the number of times I used the writer’s block excuse to get on Facebook. Twenty-one times. Of those 21 times, I played Tetris, the best game ever, five times. In the time it took me to write this article, I spent at least an hour and a half on periodic Facebook checks.

Don’t let the “Face-bug” get you!

 

Bhavna Murali is a junior at Ohio Wesleyan University.